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Landlord's Guide

Landlord's Guide | Paul Lee & Company

A guide to landlords for renting your property through us.

Preparing to let the property

Prior to you placing your property on the market we will inspect your property with you to discuss the best to prepare the property for letting, and your expectations as to they type of tenant you are looking for. We will advise on tenants expectations as to the general condition of the property, the décor, furnishing, your obligations and based on our extensive knowledge of the local rental market, the level of rent that will be achievable at that time. First impressions do count, so the property should be presented in the best possible condition. Where necessary, all works of decorations, repairs and full professional cleaning must be completed prior to the commencement of a tenancy.

Who are the tenants?

Paul Lee & Company have over many years established excellent working relationships with many varied international companies, foreign embassies, relocation agents and major letting agents. Many of our tenants come by word of mouth recommendations from satisfied tenants and landlords who feel that we cared and provided the best possible service. Types of tenant professions range from Legal, Financial, Media, Broadcasting, and Academics, both on corporate and a private basis.

Should the property be Furnished or Unfurnished?

Our speciality is letting to long term tenants who generally look for unfurnished properties. As there is no real difference between furnished or unfurnished in the rent you are likely to achieve, or from a legal point of view, we would recommend that landlords who are more flexible to either remove or supply particular items of furniture will find tenants with more ease.

Management

You will need to make a decision whether you require us to act as your Letting Agent (marketing the property and finding you a suitable Tenant), or whether you would wish to appoint us on our full Management Service. This will depend on your personal circumstances. Managing a property can demand a lot of your time i.e. dealing with tenant's demands, collecting rent and arranging repairs, sometimes at short notice.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) for rental properties - Regulations

From the 1st October 2008. All buildings, whether residential, commercial or industrial, will be required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that is no more than 10 years old, for every occasion when they are rented, bought or sold. The requirement for such certificates will come into force for all premises when they are let after 1 st October 2008. A copy of the Certificate will be required by Paul Lee & Company at the commencement of the marketing of the property as it must be available free of charge to prospective Tenants. A copy of the EPC must be given to the person who takes up the tenancy. Paul Lee & Company will be able to provide you with the contact details for an Accredited Domestic Energy Assessor who can carry out the inspection of the property and provide the required Certificate. Part Three of the Regulations outline that all private sector Landlords must not grant a new tenancy of a property (including an extension or renewal) they let after 1 April 2018 and must not continue to let the property (on an existing tenancy) after 1 April 2020, where the EPC is below the minimum level of energy efficiency for private rented properties of band E. NB: Since October 2015, where a Landlord has not provided an assured shorthold Tenant with an EPC, they will not be able to evict them using a Section 21 Notice.

Viewings at the Property

We will always accompany applicants on every viewing, whether we hold keys or are meeting the landlord, or an existing tenant at the property.   This serves two purposes, the first being the security of the property and the second to understand the applicants view of the property, to answer any questions they may have, and to give the landlord feedback on how the property was received.

Marketing the Property

On instructions from you, we will write to you to confirm that we have commenced marketing the property, which will include the asking rent, documents for you to sign and a copy of our terms and conditions of business for your reference. We will arrange to take photographs and draw up floor plans, (we will require a copy of the current EPC), so we can then produce details which will be distributed to our registered applicants who are looking to rent.

Websites

The property details, including photographs, floor plans, maps and EPC details, will be uploaded to our comprehensive website together with relevant property portals and social media websites.

Our office window display

Our office located in the heart of Primrose Hill village attracts a steady flow of passing potential tenants who always check our attractive window display for the latest listings. Your property will be advertised in our window to maximise its coverage to prospective tenants.

Boards

Only with a landlord's prior consent, and in keeping with the regulations for the erection of boards, we will arrange to have one of our eye-catching distinctive boards placed outside the property.

Relocation Agents

We have over many years established excellent working relationships with the leading Relocation Agents. They typically contact us with requirements for quality houses and flats to rent in Primrose Hill and the surrounding areas of Hampstead, Belsize Park & St. John's Wood. They act for multinational companies and financial institutions that are relocating their staff to London.

Important Pre-Instruction Requirements Before Letting

We can only accept your instructions upon the basis that the following conditions have been met:

Sub-Letting

If you are a lessee it is essential that 1. The intended letting is permitted by your lease 2. The intended letting is for a period expiring prior to the termination of your lease 3. Your Landlords written permission is obtained for sub-letting.

Mortgages

Where the property to be let is subject to a mortgage, permission is normally required from the mortgagee to let or sub-let the property. We require you to confirm that you have obtained your mortgagee's permission in advance.  

Please note that applying for permission after a Tenant has been found could prejudice the tenancy.

Insurance

You must ensure that the building and contents insurance is adequate and that the policy covers lettings; please note that many household policies do not automatically provide such cover.

The Consumer Protection Act

This is the legislation which dictates the way the law is applied to the following regulations. The Trading Standards Office is responsible for enforcing the act.

Furniture and Furnishings Fire Regulations

From the 1st January 1997 you must ensure that furniture supplied conforms to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 and the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993 and you will hereby indemnify us as a result of any breach. The regulations apply to all upholstery and upholstered furnishings, loose fittings, permanent or loose covers. Furniture manufactured prior to 1950 is exempt from the regulations.

Gas Safety Regulations

On the 31st October 1998 the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 came into effect (replacing the earlier 1994 Regulations). As a Landlord it is your duty to ensure that a registered Gas Safe Register gas engineer checks each appliance for safety at intervals of not more than 12 months.   The engineer will provide you with a report called a Landlord's gas safety record.   A copy of the report must be given to Paul Lee & Company at the start of every letting, as it is our duty to provide a copy of the report to the Tenants, from the commencement of the Tenancy.

Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations

On the 9th January 1995 the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 came into effect. You must ensure that all electrical equipment, provided with the property, should not jeopardise the safety of people, domestic animals or property. Each item should be safe and if possible, recently serviced, at the commencement of a tenancy.

Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations

The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations Parts I & III came into force on 3rd August 1994. Part II of these regulations came into force on 1st February 1995. You must ensure that all appliances provided with the property have pre-fitted plugs which are undamaged, with insulated sleeves and with the correct fuse.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

It is the law that all newly built premises from June 1992 must have mains fitted smoke alarms with battery back-up.

From 1st October 2015 the Landlord will have the legal obligation to fit smoke alarms on each storey of the property and a carbon monoxide detector in any room with a solid fuel appliance before entering into any new Tenancy. In addition the Landlord is required to have the detector and alarms tested to ensure that they are in full working order on the start date of the Tenancy and to hold records of such tests. Maintenance of the appliances is the Landlord’s responsibility during the Tenancy. The Tenant will be responsible for testing the alarms and detector during the Tenancy, replacing all defective batteries and informing the Landlord or the Agent of any defect in the alarm or detector.

The Right to Rent Checks Immigration Act 2014 for Landlords, Agents and Sub-Lettings 

Under Section 22 of The Immigration Act 2014 the law introduces from 1st February 2016, a requirement for all Landlords of private rental accommodation in England to determine whether occupiers have the right to live in the UK legally by carrying out Right to Rent checks before a new tenancy agreement is granted.

This applies to All adult occupants aged 18 and over with tenancy agreements starting on or after 1st February 2016, that they intend to occupy as their only or main home. They will have to present in person their original identification documents i.e. passport (and visa if applicable) to be checked by the Landlord or agent. You are required to make Right to Rent Checks if you are a private Landlord; have a lodger, are sub-letting a property; are an agent appointed by a Landlord to make Right to Rent Checks. Any occupier who sub-lets all or part of their accommodation to a person for money will be classed as a Landlord under the law and liable for penalty.

What you need to do: Landlords must:

  • Establish who will live in the property, all adult occupants aged 18 and over as their only or main home.
  • Ask for the original documents that show they have the right to live in the UK.
  • Check the original documents in the presence of the holder and ensure they are valid. Take copies of the original documents and record the date the check was made.Keep copies of all documents throughout the tenancy and for at least one year afterwards.
  • Conduct follow up checks at the appropriate date if the initial check indicates a time-limited Right to Rent. Record any dates regarding occupants who have time limited right to be in the UK, this will be on their passport visa, passport stamp or biometric residence permit.
  • Make a report to the Home Office if follow up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the Right to Rent.

Acceptable documents (some examples), for a Landlord to check include:

  • A UK passport showing the holder is a British citizen.
  • A passport or national identity card showing the holder is a national of the EEA (European Economic Area), or Switzerland.
  • A registration certificate or document to certify or indicate permanent residence issued by the Home Office to a national of a European Union, European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  • A permanent residence card, indefinite leave to remain, indefinite leave to enter or no time limit card issued by the Home Office to a non-EEA national who is a family member of an EEA or Swiss national.
  • A current immigration status document containing a photograph issued by the Home Office with an endorsement indicating that the named person is permitted to stay indefinitely in the UK.
  • A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.

Additional documents may be required; a full list and more information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents

The impact of the act to you the Landlord

You can be fined up to £3,000 per occupier if you rent your property to someone who is not allowed to stay in the UK and you cannot show that you checked their Right to Rent.You can also be fined if you make a follow up check and do not make a report to the Home Office saying that a Tenants stay has run out or you do not make a follow up check on the Tenant who has a time limited permission to stay in the UK. For more information visit here: https://www.gov.uk/penalties-illegal-renting


Please note that Paul Lee & Company cannot be held liable for any difficulties arising as a result of failure to observe the above.

A tenant is found, the next steps

A rental offer,  negotiating the terms of the tenancy between the landlord and the tenants and taking up references.  

You will be immediately notified when we receive offers on the property. The offer will include, the amount of rent the tenants are prepared to pay, the proposed start date, the tenancy term and specific conditions, and the tenants requests known as the wish list.

Once an offer has been accepted by you, we will ask the prospective tenants to supply details so we can apply for a comprehensive reference and credit search report provided by Diligent Services a specialist tenant referencing service. Alternatively we can apply for the more traditional references from their Bank, Employers and a Character or Previous Landlord/Letting Agent. In the case of a Company or self employed applicant we ask for information from their Bank or a copy of the current Annual report, Accountant or Solicitor and a Trade referee. All references are submitted to the Landlord for prior approval. We will also ask the prospective tenant for a holding deposit payment usually equal to one weeks rent, so that the property is withdrawn from the market whilst their application is processed.

Tenancy Agreement

Unless we are otherwise instructed we will use our own comprehensive Tenancy Agreement in respect of all furnished and unfurnished lettings. Landlords instructing their own Solicitors to prepare a Tenancy Agreement or to check tenancy documents that have been supplied by another company such as a Relocation Agent will be responsible for their Solicitors costs and charges.

The tenancy agreement forms a legally binding contract between the Landlord and the Tenant and both parties have to abide by the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. Please read the tenancy agreement carefully and make sure you understand the clauses contained therein. Whilst we will be happy to explain the tenancy agreement to you, if you have any queries you should consult a solicitor. In the main there are two forms of tenancy: -

Assured Shorthold Tenancy for a Private Tenant – Housing Act tenancy
The tenancy is taken in Tenants own name or names, this type of agreement is a Housing Act tenancy called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (known as an AST). The property must the Tenant’s only or principal home. Normally the term is for a year with or without a break clause that is effective after the first six months of the term by serving two months notice to quit (so a minimum of 8 months).

Common Law Tenancy – non Housing Act tenancies
If the rent exceeds £1,923.08 per week - £100,000 per annum the tenancy agreement cannot be an AST as it will fall outside the Housing Act. This tenancy is as a Common Law tenancy - non Housing Act tenancy this is also the case if the Landlord is a resident Landlord, the Tenant has another main or principal home, or the letting is to a company as a Company Let. If a company is undertaking the tenancy for their employee, an agreement is drawn up that identifies the company as the Tenant and the employee as the occupant. The agreement must be signed by an authorised signatory of the company, which cannot be the occupant. We will request a letter of intent from the company.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Neither a Landlord nor an Agent has a liability for Stamp Duty Land Tax, or for submitting the declaration forms to the HM Revenue & Customs. The liability will be the Tenants.

Rent

Unless otherwise agreed, the rent quoted to the Tenant by us on your behalf must be inclusive of all outgoings for which you are responsible (i.e. ground rent, service charges, buildings and contents insurance, etc.). Rent is usually paid calendar monthly in advance, by bank standing order.

Holding Deposit

To reserve a property, the Tenant will be asked to pay a holding deposit to the Agent equal one week’s rent. For an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) from the 1 June 2019 The Tenant Fees Act 2019 legislation applies for holding deposits. The Tenant Fees Act 2019 legislation does not apply to Common Law non Housing Act tenancies please refer to the heading Tenancy Agreements above for more information. Please Note: We will retain a prospective Tenant’s holding deposit in the event that it is withheld for a legally permissible reason. For example if any relevant person (including any guarantor(s) withdraw from the tenancy, fail a Right to-Rent check, provide materially significant false or misleading information, or fail to sign their tenancy agreement (and/or Deed of Guarantee) within 15 calendar days from the receipt of the holding deposit (or other Deadline for agreement as mutually agreed in writing). The Agent shall be entitled to deduct from any deposit that may be paid by a Tenant of the Landlord’s Property any fees or other monies properly due and payable by the said Tenant to the Agent.

Tenancy Deposit also know as a security deposit

The Tenant will be asked to pay a tenancy deposit for, damages or defaults on the part of the Tenant. The amount they pay will depend on the type of tenancy. For tenancies that fall within the Housing Act - an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) from the 1 June 2019 The Tenant Fees Act 2019 legislation applies to Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs). The Tenant Fees Act stipulates the amount of the tenancy deposit as being,

• (PER TENANCY. RENT UNDER £50,000 PER YEAR) equal to Five weeks’ rent. This covers damages or defaults on the part of the Tenant during the tenancy.


• (PER TENANCY. RENT OVER £50,000 PER YEAR) equal to Six weeks’ rent. This covers damages or defaults on the part of the Tenant during the tenancy

For tenancies that fall outside of the Housing Act a tenancy deposit can be agreed at an amount greater than six weeks rent if required. For example – if the Tenant has a pet and the Landlord agrees and gives their consent for a pet to stay in the property then typically an additional two weeks rent is requested from the Tenant so the tenancy deposit is then equal to eight weeks rent.

However for Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) within the Housing Act where The Tenant Fees Act 2019 applies the tenancy deposit is restricted as mentioned above. So again if the Landlord agrees to accept a pet then it may be possible with the Tenant to agree to pay the Landlord a higher rent for the tenancy term.

Unless otherwise instructed the tenancy deposit will be held in the Paul Lee & Company Clients Account, on the basis, the Agent as Stakeholder, until the termination of the tenancy. Any interest earned on monies that are held in the Paul Lee & Company Clients Account, will be retained by Paul Lee & Company

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

From the 6th April 2007 the Tenancy Deposit Scheme legislation (TDS) came into effect in England & Wales. The TDS provides protection to both Tenants and Landlords entering into an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) Agreement (Housing Act Tenancy) by offering an independent means of dispute resolution. All AST’s that commence on or after 6th April 2007 or all AST’s that commenced before the 6th April 2007 and are renewed/extended for a further fixed term are affected by the legislation.

Paul Lee & Company as existing ARLA Propertymark members joined the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) which is an insured scheme run by The Dispute Service Limited for Letting Agents www.tenancydepositscheme.com. Our tenancy agreement includes the necessary clauses that are required by the TDS. They are one of the three scheme administrators appointed by the Government. The other two schemes offer both insured and custodial schemes My Deposits https://www.mydeposits.co.uk  and DPS https://www.depositprotection.com

Utilities

We will make every effort to notify the companies of the Tenants details and the Landlord must arrange for all accounts to be settled prior to the commencement of the tenancy. These should include Electricity, Gas, Water, Council Tax and Television licensing, which are paid for by the Tenant (except if Water and Gas are block inclusive). We do not inform telephone, satellite or cable companies.

Inventory and Professional Cleaning

A full inventory of furniture, fittings and a schedule of conditions is recommended prior to the letting. We can if required instruct established independent inventory clerks to act on your behalf on your accepting responsibility for their charges (current charges listed below). While care will be taken in giving your instructions to inventory clerks, we cannot accept liability for any error or omission on their part, since they are not in our employ. We also advise that the property should be professionally cleaned and all outstanding works are completed before the inventory clerk’s inspection and prior to the commencement of a tenancy.

If you asked us to arrange for an inventory report to be made at the commencement of the tenancy, then at the termination of the tenancy we will arrange for the inventory clerk who produced the original inventory report to re-visit the property to make a check-out report. We will submit a copy of the check out report to you and the Tenant for your consideration. Once you and the Tenant have agreed in writing to costs (if any) to be deducted for damages or defaults on the part of the Tenant, we will then return the deposit to the Tenant less agreed deductions (if any) that are due to the Landlord. Please note, for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) from the 1 June 2019, The Tenant Fees Act 2019 legislation applies so the Landlord pays for the both the inventory report to be made and for the check out report. For a Common Law Tenancy – non Housing Act tenancies then the Tenant will liable to pay for the inventory check out. 

The current cost for an inventory make, charged by the professional inventory company that we use and recommend to our clients is £150.00 inclusive of VAT for a one bedroom property, £162.00 inclusive of VAT for a two bedroom property, £174.00 inclusive of VAT for a three bedroom property, £240.00 inclusive of VAT for a four bedroom property and £288.00 inclusive of VAT for a five bedroom property. The current cost for the inventory check out is £138.00 inclusive of VAT for a one bedroom property, £150.00 inclusive of VAT for a two bedroom property, £162.00 inclusive of VAT for a three bedroom property, £228.00 inclusive of VAT for a four bedroom property and £276.00 inclusive of VAT for a five bedroom property. Please note, we do not request an additional agent handling fee on top of this charge.

Renewal or Extending the Tenancy

We will write to the Landlord and the Tenant prior to the expiration of the tenancy to ascertain if both parties wish to renew or extend the tenancy for a further term. We will then re-negotiate the terms of the renewal or extension between the parties and send out the relevant documents for both the Landlord and Tenant to sign; signed copies will be sent to the Landlord and Tenant for their records.

Taxes Management Act

You are responsible for notifying the HMRC of the tenancy. Where the Landlord of the property resides abroad, the Commissioners for the HMRC will hold us, as your Agents, responsible for the payment for any tax liability, which arises on rent collected by us on your behalf. From 6 th April 1996, legislation changed governing the collection of tax on rental income for non-resident Landlords. It is now possible for you to apply for self assessment which means that if the HMRC grants self assessment, we as your Agent will be issued with an exemption certificate and will thereafter be able to release the rental monies gross without making a tax retention. If you are not granted self-assessment, we will have to pay to the HMRC on a quarterly basis, 20% of rent received net after legitimate expense deductions. Any other payment of tax will have to reclaimed by you at the end of the tax year by submitting a statement of accounts directly to the HMRC. If the Tenant is paying rent directly to an overseas Landlord and the Tenant has not received an exemption certificate, then the Tenant will have to deduct tax from the rent at a rate of 20% and forward this to the HMRC.

We recommend that you contact your accountant or tax advisers if you require any further information.

It is hoped that all the above information will assist you in renting your property, however should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

All information is provided in good faith. It does not replace the advice of a qualified legal advisor/Solicitor.

Paul Lee & Company is an ARLA Propertymark Member.

Client Money Protection (CMP) provided by: ARLA – Association of Residential Letting Agents.

Independent Redress provided by: TPO – The Property Ombudsman.

You may find it useful to read our Landlord's FAQ's

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