It's all about people...
Personal and professional
Our most important consideration is providing you with the best tenant for your property at the optimal rental figure.
As a small business we are able to offer a personal and friendly service whilst maintaining a high standard of competence and professionalism. Since opening in 1990 we have established a good reputation in Bath and a lot of our business comes from recommendations.
Carefully selected tenants
It's not always the first person to view your property who should rent it. This is where a lot of larger agencies get it wrong because they have several staff all trying to hit monthly targets without complete emphasis on quality and suitability. We use our skill and judgement to match the best tenant with the most suitable property.
All prospective tenants are independently referenced to the highest industry standards - the cost of which is included in our commission charge.
ONE simple fee - HALF of one month's rent (60%, inclusive of VAT)
Over the years we have learned to keep it simple with one transparent and reasonable commission charge. Many other letting agents charge a low fixed fee but then boost that with numerous add-ons such as a tenant referencing fee, tenancy agreement preparation fee, administration fee... It can all add up to over one month's rent.
Our property letting service includes marketing the property and carrying out viewings leading to the introduction and referencing of a prospective tenant. This proving satisfactory, we will collect the first month’s rent payment and deposit (equivalent to five weeks’ rent) for transfer to the landlord – minus our fee. The tenancy agreement with then be prepared and signed in advance of the tenant/s moving in. Managing the tenancy, including the maintenance and rent collection, will then be the responsibility of the landlord.
Water leaks, or other emergency repairs, at any time of the day or night need to be taken care of immediately and all of our landlords are introduced to our approved contractors in Bath. Good people that we have got to know and trust over many years. Their fees are reasonable because they want to keep us and our clients happy. That way, they continue to receive our recommendation and a steady supply of work. We don't take any referral payment from them and so their costs are not increased. Did you know that some letting agencies charge commission on top of their contractors' invoices? We never have and we never will.
Preparing the property
We firmly believe that a good relationship with the tenant is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. It is important that the tenant should feel comfortable and that they are receiving value for money. It follows that a well presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Electrical, gas, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order (as per current regulations). Interior and exterior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral.
Furnished or unfurnished?
Your property can be let fully furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished. Which of these is appropriate will depend on the type of property and local market conditions. Tenants will expect to have use of a kitchen with a good quality cooker, fridge, freezer and washing machine (ideally a dishwasher too). Carpets will need to be in good condition, as will curtains/blinds and lightshades. Remember that there will be some reasonable wear and tear on the property and any items provided. Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc… should be removed from the premises, especially those of unusually high or sentimental value.
Gardens should be neat, tidy and rubbish free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. However, few tenants are experienced gardeners and, if you value your garden - or if it is particularly large - you may wish to arrange visits by our regular gardener.
At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition and at the end of each tenancy it is the tenant's responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition - allowing for reasonable wear and tear.
A 'log book' for the tenant
It is helpful if you leave information for the tenant. For example, how to operate the central heating and hot water system, washing machine, alarm system and the day refuse is collected etc…
Permission to let the property
If your property is mortgaged you should obtain your lender’s written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the Tenancy Agreement of which you must inform us.
If you are a Leaseholder you should check the terms of your lease and obtain any necessary written consent from the Freeholder or Managing Agent before letting.
You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies. We can provide information about Landlords Legal Protection, Rent Guarantee Cover and Landlords Contents and Buildings Insurance.
When resident in the UK it is entirely the Landlord’s responsibility to inform the HMRC of rental income received and to pay any tax due. When a landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, an exemption certificate from HMRC will be required before rental income can be received without deduction of tax at source by the letting agency.
Inventory & Schedule of Condition
It is most important that an Inventory & Schedule of Condition is prepared in order to avoid misunderstanding or dispute at the end of a tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the landlord to prove any loss, damage or significant deterioration of the property or contents - other than fair wear and tear.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST), provided the rent is under £100,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 or 12 months. When the fixed term has expired, the Landlord is able to regain possession of the property after two months written notice have been given to the tenant to coincide with the end of the Tenancy Agreement. In addition, if the tenant owes at least two months or eight weeks rent on the property the landlord can apply through the Court to seek a possession order.
Annual gas safety check
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within twelve months of being installed and thereafter at least every twelve months by a competent engineer (e.g. a Gas Safe registered gas installer).
Maintenance: There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipework are maintained in a safe condition at all times.
Records: Full records must be kept for at least two years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and of any remedial action taken.
Copies to Tenants: A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.
Requirements for electrical safety
From 1 July 2020, all new private tenancies in England will need to ensure that electrical installations are inspected and tested by a qualified person before the tenancy begins. The landlord will then need to ensure that the installation is inspected and tested at least every five years – and more often if the most recent safety report requires it.
For existing tenancies, an electrical safety test will need to be carried out by 1 April 2021, with regular tests following this as outlined above.
The regulations will apply to all properties across the private rented sector, including houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), although lodger arrangements where the tenant shares accommodation or amenities with the landlord or their family are excluded. These regulations will replace the existing requirements for HMOs regarding electrical installation testing and inspection.
A ‘qualified person' for the purposes of these regulations is a person competent to undertake the inspection and testing required and any further investigative or remedial work in accordance with the electrical safety standards.
Local authorities can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for a breach of the regulations. Where there are multiple breaches, the local authority can impose multiple penalties.
Electrical safety reports
Once the electrical installation has been tested, the landlord must:
- Ensure they receive a written report from the person conducting the inspection, which includes the results and the required date for the next inspection.
- Supply a copy of this report to each existing tenant living in the property within 28 days of the inspection.
- Supply a copy within seven days to the local authority, if they request a copy.
- Keep a copy of the report until the next inspection, and give a copy to the person undertaking the next inspection.
For new tenancies, the landlord must:
- Give a copy of the most recent report to a new tenant before the tenant occupies the property.
- Give a copy of the most recent report to any prospective new tenant who requests the report in writing, within 28 days of receiving such a request.
If the electrical safety report identifies a fault or potential fault, which the landlord must either investigate further or repair, the landlord must ensure further investigations or repairs are completed by a qualified person within 28 days of the inspection, or within the timeframe set out in the report if this is shorter.
Following these further investigations or repairs, the landlord must ensure they receive written confirmation that these have been carried out and that either the electrical safety standards are met, or further work is required.
This confirmation must be supplied to each existing tenant and to the local housing authority within 28 days of the work being undertaken, along with the original report identifying further work is required.
This process must be repeated until the electrical installation is found to be compliant.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.
The regulations require private rented sector landlords, from 1 October 2015, to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property which is used as living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where there is a central heating boiler or solid fuel is burned eg. Fireplace, solid fuel stove or similar. After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
Are landlords legally required to prove their property is free from Legionnaires' Disease?
Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate'. Legionella testing is required only in exceptional circumstances and generally not in domestic hot and cold water system.
Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?
If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households (i.e. not all of the same family) it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your Local Authority. Whether mandatory licensing applies or not, if there are 3 or more tenants not all related in any property it is still likely to be an HMO and special Management rules apply.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
All deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords and letting agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme is supported by an Alternative Dispute Resolution service (ADR). Landlords and letting agents can choose between two types of scheme; a single custodial scheme and two insurance-based schemes. We will normally transfer the tenants’ deposit to you within 5 days of receiving it and you must then register it with a TDP Scheme within a further 9 days if the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. If you fail to do so the tenants can take legal action against you, the landlord, in the County Court. The Court will make an order that you must pay the deposit back to the tenants or lodge it with a custodial scheme. In addition, a further order will be made requiring you pay compensation to the tenants of an amount equal to three times the deposit. You will be unable to serve a Section 21 Notice on your tenant until compliance with the above conditions and the Court will not grant you a possession order. We have no liability for any loss suffered if you fail to comply.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 2005
The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled people's rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let and commonhold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to be let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Under the new duties, provided certain conditions are met (for example, that a request has been made), Landlords and managers of premises which are to let, or of premises which have already been let, must make reasonable adjustments. A failure to do so will be unlawful unless it can be justified under the Act. Landlords will only have to make reasonable adjustments and they will not have to remove or alter physical features of the premises.
The Energy Performance of Buildings (EPC rating)
From 1st October 2008 Landlords offering property to let will be required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for their property. A new certificate will not be required on each let since, in the case of rental property, EPCs will be valid for 10 years. The certificates (EPCs) will have to be provided free either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted. We have a database of registered energy assessors and we will be pleased to arrange an EPC inspection and assessment on your property upon request. Please note that we cannot market your property to let until we have in our possession a valid EPC for the property.
We hope that the information covered in this guide will be of assistance to you. If there are any aspects of which you are unsure then please ask us.