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Annual Landlord’s Gas Safety Certificate
A safety check must be undertaken before letting for the first time and each year thereafter, on all gas appliances and flues, in a rented property.
Electrical Installations & Portable Appliances
A landlord must also ensure that all electrical installations (fuse board, plug sockets, etc.) and portable appliances (fridge, cooker, etc.) are safe for a tenant to use. Although the regulations do not specify a prescribed test for this, nor the frequency of any testing, we follow best practice for the industry, which is to undertake tests to prove that the installations and appliances are safe – otherwise, we (and more importantly, you) would not be able to honestly state that they are. It is usual for the installations to be tested before letting and at such frequency that the NIC EIC qualified electrician recommends thereafter – often 5-yearly but sometimes 3-yearly or even annually, if they are considered to be in a state that requires monitoring. It is usual for portable appliances to be tested annually. This is often referred to as a PAT test.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Just like when you buy a washing machine, rented properties are assessed for energy efficiency and are rated A-G. It is against the law to advertise a property to let without an EPC, which must be available for prospective tenants to examine. Certificates last for 10 years and almost a decade after the implementation of this law, from April 2018, in order to rent a domestic property, it must have a rating of E or higher. We expect the required rating will be nudged gradually higher, over time and so it is best to keep your property as energy efficient as possible, such as by replacing old boilers.
A landlord must also follow fire safety regulations to ensure that their property is safe. This includes fitting smoke alarms on each level, ensuring furniture and furnishings are fire resistant (with labels proving the same) and following much more complex fire safety legislation if the property is a House in Multiple Occupation.
An HMO or House in Multiple Occupation is a property that is occupied by 3 or more individuals, who form 2 or more households and share a kitchen, bathroom or WC. A ‘household’ can be as little as one individual who is not related, nor in a relationship with any other individual that comprises the Tenant. So, for example, 3 sharers would be 3 households and therefore an HMO. A ‘couple plus one’ would also be an HMO being 3 individuals forming 2 households. But if one of the individuals in the couple were a brother or sister of the plus one, this would not be considered an HMO. The law is quite complicated and we are very happy to advise.
It is important that you understand if you have let your property or intend to let it as an HMO because a growing number of councils are introducing licensing schemes which require those properties to adhere to a higher standard of safety than other properties. It has always been mandatory to obtain a licence when letting a property of 3 storeys or more to 5 or more households (since 2004) but increasingly now, councils have been introducing Selective Licensing for any HMO situated within certain streets of their borough and Additional Licensing which covers every single HMO, such as the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) did in June 2017.
LBHF, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) and many other councils, also have a voluntary Landlords’ Charter promoting best practice (even higher standards in rented properties than required by law) and the intention is for tenants to choose landlords who sign up to such charters over and above other landlords. So, there are plenty of reasons for you to keep your property in a safe, energy efficient and good condition.
In all cases, the answer to this is yes! However, you are responsible for accounting for and paying your own taxes and so in most circumstances, we will pay you gross. You may like to seek financial advice regarding what amount of tax is to be paid and what expenses may be deducted.
If you reside abroad then we must deduct tax from the rent that is paid to you unless we are granted an exemption, which you would need to apply for, from HMRC. The exemption is given to a specific agent and so if you are transferring to us from another agency, it must be applied for again. However, it is a straightforward formality and it is usual for the exemption to be back-dated to when you first started renting.
We always advise that a detailed inventory should be drawn up when renting your property, even if it is rented unfurnished and that it is made by an independent inventory clerk. Without this, it is virtually impossible to make any claims against the deposit for any damage, which you may not even foresee at the start.
You should also take out Contents Insurance or Landlord Insurance to cover items such as kitchens, carpets and curtains. With this type of insurance, Public Liability Insurance is also usually included without any additional premium and so it is worth getting for that reason alone. We are able to put you in touch with two wholly independent brokers should you require a quotation for insurance.
Occasionally landlords wish to visit their property and/or meet with tenants and we do make such arrangements. However, it is important to remember that although it is your property, it is the tenant’s home and they are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the same. Frequent visits to put things in and out of the loft, for example, would not be acceptable, if you were to exclude the loft from the tenancy. You might be surprised to learn that by definition, a tenant is granted exclusive possession of a rented property and may exclude all persons, including the landlord! A right of entry is reserved in every standard tenancy agreement, of course, but enforcing this is not as straightforward as it may seem and so it is always best to maintain good relations with the tenant, for this and so many other reasons. We find that carrying out inspections are a good way to keep in personal contact with tenants and we try to fit around them when scheduling visits and repairs.