Q : Are there legal regulations that I must comply with?

Yes there is numerous legislation involved in letting properties and we will advise you accordingly and work with you to ensure full compliance.

Fire and Furnishings Regulations (Fire, Safety, Amendment) Regulations 1993
These regulations came into force on 1 January 1997. From this date, all properties that we have available for rental must have furniture complying with the fire regulations. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 Section 12 (1) and the 1988 regulations make it an offence to ‘supply’ any furniture to a property unless the furniture meets what is generally known as ‘the cigarette test’, ‘match test’ and ‘the ignitability test’. What this means to you as the landlord is the following: If you have supplied any upholstered furniture or beds to your rented property that do not comply with the regulations you could have broken the law. We reserve the right to remove any furniture from the premises that does not comply with the above regulations and charge any reasonable expenses incurred.

Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 and 1996
As from 1 April 1998 all gas engineers must be ACOPS (Approved Code of Practice ‘Standards of Training in Gas Safety Legislation’) qualified as well as Gas Safe registered. Gas engineers must meet certain criteria for each type of gas operation carried out. The ACOPS certificates are broken down into different elements depending on the type of work carried out. It will be the responsibility of the landlord to check that all the gas engineers used have the relevant ACOPS certificate. Failure to do so may result in both civil action being taken against the landlord and a criminal offence being committed. The above regulations state the landlord must ensure that all his gas appliances are checked annually to ensure that they are safe. The regulations came into force in October 1994 and must be enforced by Gas Safe registered installer. You must obtain proof from the Gas Safe registered engineer that all appliances are safe. You must keep a record of when each gas appliance was checked and from 31 October 1996 a copy of the safety certificate must be given to the tenant. We will require a copy of this certificate prior to the tenancy commencing. We reserve the right to appoint a Gas Safe registered installer to carry out an annual safety check or take remedial action to make safe a faulty appliance and charge any reasonable expenses incurred if it is brought to our attention that you have failed to take appropriate action.

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
The above regulations came into force on 9 January 1995. Your property and all electrical appliances supplied must be safe and have properly fused plugs with the correct fuse fitted. In order to comply with the regulations it is essential that your property and all electrical appliances provided by yourself are tested by a qualified electrical engineer and a certificate of safety and compliance is provided prior to the start of the tenancy. It is your legal obligation to ensure ‘duty of care’ that the electrical appliances and the property are safe and comply with current regulations.

Energy Performance Regulations 2008
From the 1st October 2008 your property will require an Energy Performance rating and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), this must be produced by a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) officer. Energy performance Certificates for rental purposes will be valid for 10 years, this applies for both existing and new build properties. A new certificate is not needed on renewal of a tenancy agreement.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
Since 1st October 2015 landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove). After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

The requirements will be enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice

Legionella Management
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella. All man-made hot and cold water systems are likely to provide an environment where Legionella can grow. Where conditions are favourable (ie suitable growth temperature range; water droplets (aerosols) produced and dispersed; water stored and/or recirculated; some ‘food’ for the organism to grow such as rust, sludge, scale, biofilm etc) then the bacteria may multiply thus increasing the risk of exposure.

The law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property (or even a room within your own home) then you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards, including making a risk assessment for Legionella.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
On 6th April 2006 The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) introduced a new risk assessment system. This affects all owners and landlords, including social landlords. It focuses on identifying and tackling the hazards that are most likely to be present in housing to make homes healthier and safer to live in.

The system can deal with 29 hazards relating to:

Dampness, excess cold/heat
Pollutants e.g. asbestos, carbon monoxide, lead
Lack of space, security or lighting, or excessive noise
Poor hygiene, sanitation, water supply
Accidents – falls, electric shocks, fires, burns, scalds
Collisions, explosions, structural collapse

Each hazard is assessed separately, and if judged to be ‘serious’, with a ‘high score’, is deemed to be a category 1 hazard. All other hazards are called category 2 hazards.

A risk assessment looks at the likelihood of an incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome. If a local authority discovers category 1 hazards in a home, it has a duty to take the most appropriate action.

Q : Can I trust you?

We have over 20 years experience in the lettings industry. We are members of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA), an accredited member of The National Landlords Association (NLA) and Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association (MKPLA). We are registered with the Property Redress Scheme (PRS), a government authorised consumer redress scheme for Property Agents and Professionals, MyDeposits, a government authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme and the Information Commissioners Office for Data Protection.

Most importantly all client funds are held in a separate bank account and covered by Client Money Protection Insurance and we have Professional Indemnity Insurance as well as being an accredited Safe Agent Member.

Q : Do I need to still pay buildings or contents insurance?

Yes, it’s important that you have landlords insurance covering the building and your internal fixtures and fittings (i.e. fitted kitchen, white goods, carpets, curtains, etc). There are specialist insurance companies who can provide this and we are happy to put you in touch with our insurers to arrange this, if required.

The tenant is responsible for insuring their own personal effects and furniture.

Q : Do I need to tell my mortgage provider?

Yes, you must obtain written consent from your mortgage provider and freeholder (if property is leasehold) and we will require evidence of this.

You should also inform your insurance company that the property is to be rented and appropriate insurance obtained for a tenanted property. There are specialist insurance companies who can provide this and we are happy to assist you, if required.

You will also need to inform the Inland Revenue within six months of letting your property, flat or apartment in the UK. Failure to do so may mean you could incur penalties, interest and other consequences. The Inland Revenue have been known to deal harshly with landlords who do not declare rental income and it is always best to seek advice on tax planning and capital gains tax from a fully qualified accountant

Q : Do you accept pets?

We are a nation of pet lovers. Latest research suggests that 47% of households in the UK own a pet, so there is a sound business case for accepting pets to open up your potential tenant market considerably.

Unfortunately, some pets can cause a lot of expensive damage. Cats can claw furniture and decoration and dogs can scratch and chew doors and walls. Also, pet odours can become embedded into carpets and soft furnishings, making it difficult, or perhaps even impossible to remove the odour. Irresponsible pet owners don’t always clean up after their pets and sometimes gardens can become full of animal waste.

If a landlord is prepared to consider pets we follow the Dogs Trust guidance on Lets with Pets www.letswithpets.org.uk.

If accepted, tenants are required to pay a non-refundable £300 Pet Cleaning Supplement to the landlord at the start of their tenancy, to cover any additional cost of pet hair removal, anti-bacterial, anti-mite and anti-odour treatment of carpets, curtains and soft furnishings, as well as two months’ rent as security deposit. Pet owners are also contractually obliged to have – and maintain throughout their tenancy – tenant’s contents insurance that covers accidental damage by their pet. Don’t worry though, we can arrange the appropriate insurance cover for tenants through our insurance partners.

We also recommend that pet owners offer to pay a slightly higher rent to incentivise the landlord to accept their request to keep a pet.

Q : Do you accept tenants on benefits?

As a rule, we do not recommend our landlords to accept tenants ONLY in receipt of benefits and many buy to let mortgages will have restrictions against this. However, if we find some ideal tenants who are on a lower income and are in receipt of a benefit (i.e. housing benefit, disability allowance for themselves or children, etc) that would need to be included in their affordability check, then we will carry out our enhanced vetting process and ensure that they provide a creditworthy guarantor.

We can also arrange ‘Nil Excess’ Rent Guarantee for tenants in receipt of benefits – contact us for details.

Q : How do I attract quality tenants to my property?

The rental market can be competitive and it’s important to maximise your chances of achieving the best rent and attracting the best tenants. Our experience has taught us that tenants prefer a well maintained and clean property, ideally recently decorated, with neutral coloured walls and plain carpets, or wood flooring. Properties in good decorative order will generally attract the best tenants and encourage them to respect the property and treat it like their home.

First impressions count! Remember to maximise ‘kerb appeal’. Keep all front gardens, front door, porch and hallway clean and tidy, with no clutter in sight. If you have pets we recommend that you put them outside during viewings and ensure the property has been aired to remove any animal smells.

We always recommend that properties are professionally cleaned, especially the kitchen cooker, before a tenancy starts and we would expect the tenants to do the same before vacating the property.

Of course if you want to put on a pot of freshly ground coffee then it all helps to make your property welcoming and stand out from the rest.

Q : How do I receive the rent?

We are almost unique in that we use Direct Debit for rent collection, which reduces the risk of your tenant defaulting on their rent and prevents them from cancelling a standing order without us knowing. We are immediately notified if a tenant cancels their Direct Debit, allowing us to act swiftly, contact the tenant and collect payment, even over the telephone, before rent arrears develop.

You will receive your rent directly into your bank account no more than 7 days after we receive it.

Q : How will I know that I've got the right tenants?

Here at The Right Place we don’t just find you a tenant, you get complete peace of mind.

You get 6 months FREE ‘Nil Excess’ Rent Guarantee and Legal Expenses Cover with our Platinum Professionally Managed service, which includes a full Tenant Eviction Service, covering completion of court paperwork, court fees and court attendance by experienced solicitors, as well as bailiff costs and any rent due up to vacant possession. We recommend that you allow us to automatically renew the initial 6 months free guarantee to give you continued protection in the event of a sudden, or unexpected change in your tenant’s circumstances.

You can always be confident that we stand by our choice of tenant. Our Tenant Find Premium and Plus services both include 12 months FREE Tenant Eviction Service, covering completion of court paperwork, court fees and court attendance by experienced solicitors, so you are fully protected should something go wrong.

We perform extensive vetting of all prospective tenants and in many cases insist on a guarantor. We only rent to tenants that we would be happy to accept in our own rental portfolio.

We collect rent payments by Direct Debit, which ensures we are notified immediately should the rent payment fail, or if your tenant cancels their Direct Debit. We are almost unique in this respect, as most lettings agents still rely on their tenants to set up and maintain a bank standing order for rent payment, which is a much inferior method of rent collection.

Q : I live abroad, does that matter?

Yes, any landlords living abroad will need to provide evidence of their Inland Revenue Tax Exemption Certificate, otherwise we are required by law to deduct 20% income tax from your rent and pay it directly to HMRC. We charge an additional administration fee for this service – please see our terms and conditions.

Q : Is there anything else I should do once my property is let?

We recommend that you use the Post Office redirection service to redirect any mail as we are not responsible for forwarding your mail to you.

Q : Should I rent it furnished?

Not unless you really need to leave some furniture. From a rental income perspective there really is very little difference between furnished and unfurnished properties and if you leave furniture then you will need to ensure it complies with The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993). Any furniture you provide will need to be maintained and replaced when broken (unless breakage is caused by tenant damage). We generally find that company lets prefer furnished properties, but professionals and families looking to stay long term tend to bring their own furniture.

White goods (fridge, freezer, washing machine, etc) can be appealing and in larger family homes a dishwasher is always welcome. However, many families prefer to have their own white goods, so for this reason we do not recommend providing white goods, unless your prospective tenants request them, in which case the rent is always negotiable upwards! If you do provide white goods, then we recommend that they are PAT tested at the start of each new tenancy to ensure they are safe. We can organise PAT testing for you from a reliable local company.

If the property has gardens, then it is a good idea to provide some garden tools, lawn mower, etc. However, your tenants are always responsible for maintaining the home and garden, even if you do not provide garden tools.

Tenants always prefer a bathroom to include a shower and we would recommend that you also include an extractor fan to ensure the bathroom receives adequate ventilation.

All instruction manuals for appliances including boilers should be left at the property.

We find that family tenants prefer an unfurnished property, so that they can make it their own and it is said that tenants take better care of a property containing their own furniture and furnishings.

Q : What happens about maintenance of the property?

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 the landlord is responsible for maintaining the external structure of the property and any outbuildings, such as external walls, roofs, doors and windows (excluding glass), drains, gutters and outside pipes, together with the main paths that lead to the front and back doors. Inside the property, the landlord is responsible for water and gas pipes, wiring, heating systems, drainage, power and light fittings and any items originally provided.

The landlord is also responsible for carrying out a gas safety check once a year, if the property has a gas supply.

For all properties on our Professionally Managed Platinum Service, we will arrange any repair work and we do not add any mark up to maintenance costs. Our landlord contract specifies an agreed limit per maintenance job that you authorise us to spend without prior approval. For any work over this limit we will provide quotations for you to approve prior to the works taking place.

Tenants are provided with a dedicated 24 hour maintenance voicemail service.

Full details of our maintenance policy can be found here.

Q : What if I want to move back into the property ? Can I get the tenants to leave?

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy is protected during the fixed term (normally the first 6 months) and you will not be able to regain possession of the property during the fixed term, unless there is a serious breach of contract by the tenant. A landlord can issue a Section 21 Notice to formally request possession at the end of the tenancy (provided at least two months notice is given) and should you want to end the tenancy at the end of the term we will issue any statutory notices and liaise with the tenant on your behalf. If court action is needed, then possession can be obtained on a number of different grounds and we will liaise with you, should this become necessary.

It should be noted that it is a criminal offence, under the Protection from Evictions Act 1977, for a Landlord to threaten, or forcibly evict a tenant from their property.

Q : What if the tenants cause damage?

A security deposit is held in case of any damage or dilapidation of the property during the tenancy. All our tenancy deposits are protected by a government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. At the end of the tenancy any tenant damage costs are deducted from the security deposit in accordance with the scheme provider’s rules. We do however recommend that all landlords take out their own Landlord Insurance with protection against tenant and malicious damage to protect themselves – contact us for further information.