SUMMARY OF OUR SERVICES
Linda Saunders Lettings has not taken long to become one of Bridgwater's leading residential lettings and property management businesses. Our services cover the entire property rental and letting market.
Linda Saunders Lettings are fully paid members of The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPOS), you can rest assured that our working practices and ethics are amongst the very best. With ever increasing legislation from government covering such areas as the new risk assesment for Legionnaires Desease and smoke and CO2 detectors it is even more important that you protect yourself by commissioning the right letting agent.
Our Full Management Services include:
1. Visiting you at your property, and providing a rental valuation and any other advice which you may require about letting your property.
2. Advising you on compliance with the various safety regulations.
3. Locating suitable tenants. Your property will be advertised if necessary, however we have excellent contacts with various company and other establishment personnel departments, and furthermore usually have tenants waiting.
4. Accompanying tenant applicants to view the property.
5. Obtaining and evaluating references and credit checks.
6. Preparing a suitable tenancy agreement and arranging signature by the tenant.
7. Collecting and holding as stakeholders a deposit (bond) from the tenant.
8. Preparing an inventory and schedule of condition.
9. Checking the tenant into the property and agreeing the inventory.
10. Supervising the transfer of gas, electricity and council tax accounts into the tenant's name.
11. Receiving rental payments monthly in advance, and paying you promptly, together with a detailed statement from our computerised management systems.
12. If required paying regular outgoings for you from rental payments.
13. Inspecting the property periodically, and reporting any problems to you.
14. Arranging any necessary repairs or maintenance, first liaising with you in the case of larger works.
15. Keeping in touch with the tenant on a routine basis, and arranging renewals of the agreement as necessary.
16. Checking tenants out as required, re-letting and continuing the process with the minimum of vacant periods to ensure that you receive the optimum return from your property
GUIDE FOR LANDLORDS
Before a property can be let, there are several matters which the owner will need to deal with to ensure that the tenancy runs smoothly, and also that he/she complies with the law. For brief details of a subject click on a blue link below, or scroll down the page. If you require further advice or assistance with any matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.
If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee'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 the necessary written consent before letting.
If you are a tenant yourself, you will require your landlord's consent.
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 on Landlord's Legal Protection, and Landlord's Contents insurance if required.
Bills and regular outgoings
We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. mortgage, service charges, maintenance contracts etc. to be paid by standing order or direct debit. However, where we are managing the property, by prior written agreement we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit.
Council tax is the responsibility of the occupier. You should inform your local collection office that you are leaving the property. During vacant periods the charge reverts to the owner. When unoccupied but furnished, the charge is 90% of the normal rate. When unoccupied and 'substantially' unfurnished, there is no charge for the first six months, and thereafter a charge of 90% of the normal rate.
It is most important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition be 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. In order to provide a complete service to the landlord, we will if requested arrange for a member of staff to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition, at a cost to be quoted.
When the landlord is resident in the UK, it is entirely his responsibility to inform the Inland Revenue of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. However, where the landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, under new rules effective from 6 April 1996, unless an exemption certificate is held, we as landlord's agents are obliged to retain and forward to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis, an amount equal to the basic rate of income tax from rental received, less certain expenses. An application form for exemption from such deductions is available from this Agency, and further information may be obtained from the Inland Revenue.
Important Safety Regulations
The following safety requirements are the responsibility of the owner (the landlord), and where we are to manage the property, they are also ours as agents. Therefore to protect all interests we ensure full compliance with the appropriate regulations, at the owner's expense.
Gas Appliances & Equipment
Annual 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 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 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 pipe work are maintained in a safe condition at all times.
Records: Full records must be kept for at least 2 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.
Electrical Appliances & Equipment
There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are 'supplying in the course of business'. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation - 'Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no specific legal requirement for a qualified electrician to carry out an inspection and issue a safety certificate (as exists in the case of gas appliances), it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety, and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your 'duty of care', or even of manslaughter is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.
The inspection of the wiring must be renewed every five years and the appliances inspected annually
Furniture & Furnishings
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989, 1993 & 1996) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistant standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, and 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, bed clothes including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Therefore all relevant items as above must be checked for compliance, and non-compliant items removed from the premises. In practice, most (but not all) items which comply must have a suitable permanent label attached. Items purchased since 1.3.90 from a reputable supplier are also likely to comply.
General Product Safety
The General Product Safety Regulations 1994 specify that any product supplied in the course of a commercial activity must be safe. In the case of letting, this would include both the structure of the building and its contents. Recommended action is to check for obvious danger signs - leaning walls, broken glass, sharp edges etc., and also to leave operating manuals or other written instructions about high risk items, such as hot surfaces, electric lawnmowers, etc. for the tenant.
Preparing the property for letting
We have found from experience that a good relationship with tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers the relationship part is our job, but it is important that the tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. This is your job. Our policy of offering a service of quality and care therefore extends to our tenant applicants too, and we are pleased to recommend properties to rent which conform to certain minimum standards. Quality properties attract quality tenants.
Electrical, gas, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the landlord's expense unless misuse can be established.
Similarly, appliances such as washing machine, fridge freezer, cooker, dishwasher etc. should be in usable condition. Repairs and maintenance are at the landlord's expense unless misuse can be established.
Interior decorations should be in good condition, and preferably plain, light and neutral.
It is recommended that you leave only minimum furnishings, and these should be of reasonable quality. It is preferable that items to be left are in the property during viewings. If you are letting unfurnished, we recommend that the property contains carpets, curtains, and a cooker.
Personal Items, Ornaments etc
Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc. should be removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the loft at the owner's risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the tenant's own use.
Gardens should be left 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 us to arrange maintenance visits by our regular gardener.
At the commencement of a 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 similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning should be arranged at their expense.
We recommend that you make use of the Post Office redirection service. Application forms are available at their counters, and the cost is minimal. It is not the tenant's responsibility to forward mail.
Information for the tenant
It is helpful if you leave information for the tenant on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.
You should provide one set of keys for each tenant. Where we are managing we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
From 1st October 2008 landlords in England and Wales offering property for rent were required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for their property. The certificates must be provided free either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted. 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 requirement was introduced to comply with the EU's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which applies to all property, including rented property. We can arrange an EPC inspection for our landlord clients upon request.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £25,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 to 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if the tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property he can apply through the court to seek a possession order.
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 as above 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.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) 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 will be supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR). Landlords and letting agents will be able to choose between two types of scheme; a single custodial scheme and two insurance-based schemes. (please note that if a landlord instructs an agent to collect a deposit on his/her behalf the agent becomes responsible for ensuring the deposit is held in an authorized scheme. therefore we cannot accept deposits for forwarding to landlords)..
The Disability Discrimination Act 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 common hold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to 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, and 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.
We hope that you will find the above information useful. If there are any aspects of which you are unsure, please ask us. We look forward to being of assistance to you in the letting and management of your property.
We let and manage furnished and unfurnished flats and houses throughout 'UK '. Please click on 'Find a Home' above to view a shortlist, although our stock changes daily and you should contact us for current availability or to register your requirements. Please note that for your safety and peace of mind -
_ All of our managed properties are Gas Safe gas safety certificated, and inspected for electrical safety, and furniture fire safety
_ All deposit are held and protected by The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of The DPS.
GUIDE FOR TENANTS
Finding a property
The first step is to contact us to provide brief details about yourself and about the accommodation you require. We then search our database for suitable properties for you to view. If not urgent, we log your details so that we can contact you as suitable properties become available. It is wise to start looking about a month before you wish to move, as the nicer properties are viewed and reserved quickly. Our tenancies are granted for a minimum term of 6 months.
Viewings will be arranged at times to suit you, including evenings and weekends, and you will invariably be accompanied by a member of staff, who can give advice and answer any questions you may have.
As a minimum we will require satisfactory references from your employer (or college), and a previous or current landlord. We may also require a personal reference, and sometimes a guarantor. In addition a credit check will be undertaken. We may use the services of an independent referencing company to obtain and evaluate these references.
Rents are normally quoted calendar monthly and payable monthly in advance. The tenant is usually also responsible for Council Tax, Water Rates, Gas, Electricity and Telephone costs. All rents are payable by bank standing order to our company bank account.
A security deposit of a minimum of one month's rental must be paid, and will be held by The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS), in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of The DPS. This is held to cover damage, breakages, and any other liabilities under the terms of your tenancy agreement. Please note that under no circumstances can the deposit be used by the tenant to cover rent.
These cover the cost of referencing and setting up of the AST.
Tenants Application Fees
Each Additional Tenant £100
Guarantor (If Required) £150
Contact Us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Us on 01278 425242