You are here

 

About LettingaProperty.com

Plans for the formation of LettingaProperty.com began in 2008 when Lettings Director Jonathan Daines teamed up with his brother Matthew, a Director in the Services Sector to create an evolutionary online letting agency business model aimed at servicing today’s landlords and tenants.

Following 12 months of development, forging relationships and developing its online presence, the company launched its operations in August of 2009.

Up-to-date technology, a strong lettings knowledge and a cost efficient infrastructure enables the company to offer a traditional lettings service without the higher administration costs found with conventional high street letting agents.

LettingaProperty.com manages all that a high street agency would be expected to do, but far more cheaply, efficiently and at a higher service level.

We give you maximum exposure

Our story so far

LettingaProperty.com has gone from strength to strength in a relatively short amount of time.

The firm has already received a string of customer and industry plaudits, of which it is extremely proud of.  With over 98 per cent of their own customers recommending them and top marks in an independent Property Ombudsman survey, service is a foundation value they uphold to in any landlord and tenant interaction.  The company won the 2012 winner of the Landlord Buy to Let Awards for ‘Best Website’ and has been awarded the GoodWebGuide’s ‘Property Website of the Year Award’ 2013.

Thousands of landlords and tenants have registered to use the service and the Company is overjoyed to still be serving their first ever landlord who to this day has successfully re-let their property each year through the website.  LettingaProperty.com has a loyal customer base with over 73% of their private landlords using their services more than once.

Privately funded by both founders and a portfolio private landlord turned investor, the company is well positioned to engage in ambitious growth plans over the coming years and continue to provide both value and service to their new and loyal landlord clientele and their tenants.

The ethos behind LettingaProperty.com is to provide landlords with the option to let and manage their property without the high costs and failing service culture often associated with the conventional high street letting agents. Customers play an integral role in shaping the delivery of LettingaProperty.com’s service where continuous improvements are made on the feedback provided by both landlords and tenants.

LettingaProperty.com is a member of the Property Ombudsman, The UK Association of Letting Agents, National Landlords Association and Safe Agent instilling confidence in any property owner embarking on becoming a landlord for the first time.

If you are considering how to become a landlord or you are already a seasoned professional landlord,  we hope you'll find this guide for landlords useful.

With more than 3.5 million people in England now living in rented accommodation (that’s more than one in six households across the country) one would say that the demand for rental property is at an all-time high – this is good news for Landlords.

The lettings industry can sometimes be a little confusing, regardless of how experienced a Landlord you are.  Learning how to be a Landlord can be daunting for some and for others, the thought of owning an investment property that reaps the rewards of rental profit is exhilarating and can often lead to serial property investment.

Our first tip on how to be a Landlord is to treat your property and Tenants as if the property is your business and the Tenants, your customers.  Treat your customers well, and they will look after your business (most of the time anyway).

During the learning stages on how to be a Landlord, you will no doubt read about all sorts of dangers lurking around the corner such as rent arrears, increased licensing fees, reduced benefit entitlements and the increase in the cost of borrowing, however, as long as you are prepared and have a contingency plan, you should be able to navigate your way around these obstacles with relative ease.

There is an upside of being a Landlord too.  The prospect of long term capital gain and a steady monthly income is certainly attracting more and more Landlord investors both locally and from abroad.  It is estimate that approximately 60 per cent of new-builds in London are purchased by overseas investor Landlords.

The trick to learning how to be a Landlord in the UK is: ‘Research, research, research’ and in most cases, to follow your head and not your heart.

Where should Landlords invest in property to let?

When speaking to Landlords, it is evident that the decision on where to purchase the rental property is normally tied to where the Landlord lives.  This may be practical from a management perspective however, the property may not net a high return on investment (ROI) based on the purchase price and the rental market in the area.  A Landlord should look for areas of high return rather than proximity to their homes.

What type of property should I be investing in?

Flats are often seen as low maintenance for Landlords however, when it comes to marketing a flat to find potential Tenants, you may find yourself up against a lot of competitors.  In our experience, small affordable homes with 1 or 2 bedrooms make ideal rental properties and rarely stay marketed for long.  This type of property can often be picked up at the same price as a new build flat, however, may not have the “modern look” and may require a little more attention.

How to be a LandlordFlexibility on your Tenant criteria will certainly influence the ‘letability’ of the property.  Tenants with pets and Tenants claiming local housing allowance form a client list desperate to be serviced.  If a Landlord would accept Tenants under these circumstances, the likelihood of a property remaining empty is greatly reduced.

However, before you begin to start marketing your property to find a tenant, let’s take a look at the first steps of learning how to be a Landlord, and that is – obtaining what the Industry refers to as a ‘Consent to Let’.

Before you begin to let your property, Landlords may be required to obtain permission to let the property from a 3rd party.  Obtaining permission is what is referred to as obtaining a ‘Consent to Let’.  The most common type of consent required is usually from the mortgage lender i.e. your bank.

Here are some other organisations you may need to get a letter of consent from:

  • Mortgage lender (unless the property is on a Buy-to-Let mortgage)
  • In respect of leasehold properties, the head Landlord
  • Any housing association or other body which has regulations applying to the property, e.g shared ownership
  • Any adult who has been living in the property with the Landlord as husband, wife or partner who may have occupancy rights
  • The Landlord’s insurance company who must confirm that cover will be maintained if the property is let

Why do you need to obtain a consent to let?

Your mortgage lender will have issued you with a contract, i.e. your mortgage documents.  The contract of lending usually implies that the bank will lend you the money to purchase the property on the condition that you have been able to prove your income and confirm that either you or your family will be living in the property as a home owner.

If you let a property without the proper consent from your bank, you may be in breach of your mortgage contract which could result in financial penalties or even worse, the bank may require the mortgage to be paid back.

How do you obtain a letter of consent?

The first step in obtaining a consent to let from your mortgage lender is to call them and discuss your options.  We would suggest that at this stage, you are simply ‘exploring your options’ with the bank rather than suggesting you are trying to let the property out immediately, why?

Consent to let a propertyMost banks will be reasonable and may be able to give you consent for either a certain period, i.e. 12 months or for a small fee.  Other banks may insist on you changing your mortgage from a homeowner’s mortgage to a Buy-to-Let mortgage.  This process can be costly depending on the new interest rates and the administration fees applied.  The bank may even insist on running checks again.

If you are unsure on how to obtain consent to let, we would advise that you seek assistance from a qualified Financial Advisor who may be able to contact your bank on your behalf.

According to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – most deposit disputes result from property cleanliness problems at the end of the tenancy.

These problems can be overcome. We would always recommend that you enlist the services of a professional cleaning firm to give the property a deep professional clean before you start to market the property for let.

First impressions count, if a Tenant walks into the property and it is clean and smells fresh, this will already be a positive start to the viewing.

Once you have had the property professionally cleaned and you have kept hold of the receipts, you must ensure that you and the Tenant agree (and it is a clause in the tenancy agreement) that the property is to be cleaned to a professional standard at the end of the agreement.

Preparing to let a propertyTip - Just because you have had the property professionally cleaned and retained receipts, this does not automatically mean that the Tenant must do the same at the end of the agreement.  The Tenant could be a very good cleaner and do a good job of it.  What you are looking for at checkout is whether the property is in the exact same condition as at the start of the agreement (excluding fair wear and tear).  If the property is not, you may then enlist the services of a professional cleaning company and deduct their costs from the Tenant’s deposit.

We would advise that you carry out a pre-check out visit about a week before the tenancy comes to an end to advise the Tenant on what you are going to expect at the check-out and this may be a good opportunity to highlight any issues.  This should give the Tenant sufficient time to make good on those areas of concern.

An Energy Performance Certificate or otherwise known as an EPC, is essentially a certificate issued to the Landlord or owner of the property that is produced by a qualified Energy Assessor after having carried out an energy assessment at a property.

It is often misunderstood to be an electrical assessment – these are two completely different assessments.  The Energy Performance Assessment does what essentially is says, and that is an assessment of the efficiency of the way in which the property performs from an energy consumption standpoint. 

Energy Performance CertificateThe easiest way of describing an Energy Performance Certificate is to consider when you purchase a new fridge, you may recall seeing a colourful graph on a sticker which indicates how energy efficient the fridge it.  Most fridges nowadays has a good energy efficiency rating such as A – B.  A poor energy efficiency score would be G.  The higher the rating, the better the efficiency of energy consumption the fridge it = lower cost and less carbon emissions.

The same technically applies to the property’s energy efficiency however, the way in which the assessor assesses the efficiency of the property is somewhat different to that of a fridge! 

Various factors are included in the Energy Performance Certificate such as:

  • Ventilation in the property
  • Thickness of walls
  • Cavity wall insulation present / not present
  • Type of windows i.e. uPVC or wood
  • Thickness of loft insulation
  • Room dimensions
  • Type and efficiency of boiler etc

Having an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC displayed on all properties for sale or to rent was made a legal requirement as from the 1st October 2008. Landlords caught without following these regulations may be faced with a financial penalty.

What do Energy Performance Certificates mean for Landlords?

Landlords will be able to make changes to the property to let based on the recommendations of the Energy Performance Certificate report. The report will include information for the Landlord such as:

  • Suggested improvements (such as fitting loft insulation)
  • The approximate cost of such improvements
  • Possible cost savings per year if the improvements are made
  • How this would change the carbon emission rating and energy efficiency of the property

Landlords can use this information to:

  • Encourage Tenants to rent property based on potentially lower fuel costs
  • Cut your own fuel costs or standing charges for vacant properties
  • Improve energy efficiency in your house or flat to rent
  • Help cut carbon emissions from your property

Landlords are not required to act on the recommendations suggested from the energy efficiency report however, in order to promote the attractiveness of a property to let, a more energy efficient property should encourage price conscious tenants to make further enquiries.

An Energy Performance Certificate is not required when a tenant rents a room and shares facilities.

What do Energy Performance Certificates mean for Tenants?

Energy Performance CertificateThe energy efficiency of a property to let is measured by using the same calculations for all homes, houses and flats to rent. This allows Tenants to make an informed decision when they come to selecting a property to rent. A higher energy efficient property may be cheaper to run when calculating the cost of heating and fuel bills.
As a tenant, if you are interested in renting a property then an EPC must be made available to you free of charge by either the Landlord or the Letting Agent.

An EPC is only required for a rental property which is self-contained, and is valid for 10 years. An EPC isn't required when you rent a room and share facilities.

Who is required to have an Energy Performance Certificate?

The EPC is required by law when a building is constructed, sold or put up for rent.

This is one of the most common questions that we have been asked: “Would my property let better if it was furnished or unfurnished?”  In our experience, there really is no right or wrong answer to whether the property should be let furnished or unfurnished. 

We believe through experience that this is a case of 1) considering your target market, 2) whether you have the inclination, willingness or budget to furnish the property and 3) whether you were living in the property previously and found yourself with furnishings that you no longer require.

Choosing to let a property furnished or unfurnished will depend on the type of tenant, the market that you are aiming to service and property that you have to let:

Letting a property furnished or unfurnished

Letting to student Tenants.

Chances are that students won’t have accumulated any furniture during their lives at home and so it would make sense for the property to have the bare essentials such as desks, chairs, sofas, bed frames, cooker, oven, fridge freezer etc.  (Remember, any furnishings must comply with fire safety regulations and any gas appliances will need to be tested by a Gas Safe Registered plumber).

From the student tenant’s perspective, a property with adequate study facilities such as broadband, computer desks etc. would be far more desirable than a property without those facilities ergo; you let your property out faster.

Always insist that any gas appliances are fitted by your own qualified Gas Engineer and that they are added to the Gas Safety Certificate.

Letting to professional Tenants.

If you are letting a big 5 bedroom detached home in the heart of West Sussex, you may be attracting families’ in-between homes (relocating) that have accumulated furniture throughout their lives.

Then again, they may be tenants who are relocating from another Country with work and will require a property that is fully furnished and often fully equipped

Furnished properties attract a tax allowance – speak to your Accountant about this

If you do let the property furnished, be prepared for the furniture to be subject to wear and tear.

Yes, you may take a deposit for damage to your property however, that deposit will not cover fair wear and tear.

In summary, you should know your target market, are they going to be corporate tenants or families with a need for a furnished property. Are you targeting students or young professionals?

We live by two basic rules when it comes to furnishing a property to let:

Rule no 1 - Know the Law regarding Fire Safety with furnishings.
Rule no 2 - Be flexible.  If you had a good quality tenant that was looking for a long term let and they needed a sofa – would you be accommodating?

If you have decided to advertise your property to let with us, you will be prompted to create a new property advertisement and will be asked to provide marketing information about the property such as description and photographs etc before we can advertise the property.

Write a good property description.

When writing the property description we would ask you to be mindful of the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 which essentially highlights that it is a criminal offence to make false or misleading statements about the property.

Things you say verbally about the property will be covered as well as the printed word, photos, plans, etc.

In our experience it is better to be as factual as you can be – tenants won’t be convinced by a description saying it is the “best house in the street” even though you may believe it, they might not.

Use phrases such as, Three Double Bedrooms, Double Glazing and Centrally Heated, 100ft Rear South Facing Garden, Recently Refurbished (within 3 months), 5 minutes’ walk to local park (you have actually timed it too).

Avoid using phrases like: Beautifully decorated to high standard, large bedrooms, large garden, close to park – these are subjective. 

Keep your description to a maximum of 500 – 800 words (approximately half an A4 page).  Too much writing and the tenants are put off, too little and there won’t be enough to entice a viewing.

Example of a property description.

We are delighted to offer to rent this three double bedroom property in the popular location of Solihull, B91 just 5 minutes’ walk from the Town Centre, bustling with shops and a Train Station which connects to London.

The property comprises, separate lounge and dining room area, original wood flooring throughout the ground floor, downstairs WC, recently refitted open plan kitchen with breakfast bar, French doors leading to 100ft south facing rear garden, family bathroom on the first floor and a further study room / fourth bedroom. 

Outside benefits from parking for 3 standard size vehicles. 

The property is available for a 1 year Shorthold Tenancy Agreement as from the 13/09/13.

Sorry, no students or pets please.

Prospective tenants will be asked to provide credit and reference history.

Taking photographs of the property.

Taking photos of a propertyWhen taking photos of your property, turn on all the lights, tidy up the house and put all of your personal belongings away such as photo frames, children’s toys etc so that the pictures don’t come out all cluttered.

If you are taking photographs when an existing tenant is living in the property, remember it is still their home and it is unreasonable to expect them to hide their belongings. It is far better to take new photographs each time the property is empty and to use the most recent ones to advertise the property.

Once your photographs are uploaded in your landlord account, they will be stored on our system and can be re-used or updated at any time.

Try and take at least 10 photos of the property - one in every room, a front picture and a garden picture.  Try and take the photos when the sun is out and it is behind you so that the photos don’t come out over-exposed.

If you photos are of a poor quality, it will put tenants off from enquiring.  We have in the past removed photos and noticed a better response to an advert however, the best advice we can give is to ensure that you have a camera that is no smaller than 2 mega pixels and to take good quality photos.

All furniture a Landlord provides a Tenant must be fire resistant and must meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989 & 1993).

These regulations require that the following furniture supplied by the landlord in let properties meet fire safety standards:

  • beds, headboards of beds, mattresses
  • sofas, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles
  • nursery furniture
  • garden furniture which is suitable for use in a dwelling
  • scatter cushions, bean bags, window seats and seat pads; pillows
  • padded stools and padded chests
  • put-up beds and garden loungers / seats
  • loose and stretch covers for furniture

Gas Regulations Label

Furniture manufactured since March 1989 will comply with these regulations and most will be marked with a label showing compliance.

The regulations do not apply to:

  • sleeping bags
  • bed-clothes, duvets and pillowcases
  • loose covers for mattresses
  • curtains and carpets
  • furniture and furnishings manufactured before 1 January 1950 as the inflammable materials were not in use prior to 1950
  • properties let continuously to the same tenant since prior to December 1996 until there is change of tenancy

Non-compliance with the above regulations is a criminal offence and carries penalties of a £5,000 fine, 6 month’s imprisonment, or both. In the event of a death, charges could extend to manslaughter.

Always make sure it is safe for you and your prospective Tenants to view the property.  Do not leave trip hazards or health and safety hazards lying around the house.

Try and conduct your viewings during the day and if you are going to be alone, make sure you tell a friend or family member that you have a Tenant coming over to view the property and give them the Tenants name and telephone number.

Make sure that you have all the relevant information regarding the property to hand such as, Gas Safety Certificate, EPC, gas bills, council tax, water bills, any other charges, locality to schools and public transport etc so that you can educate the Tenant about the property and local surroundings.

Showing a sample Tenancy Agreement and proof of your membership of a Landlords Association and/or Accreditation Scheme will give the viewer confidence that you are a professional Landlord and that you intend to start your relationship with trust and professionalism.

Showing TenantsPhysically conducting a rental viewing is straightforward.  Start either upstairs or downstairs or if a single story property, from the entrance hall.  Show the Tenant around the property remembering to highlight and good features such as storage space, views from windows, location to shops etc.  This may be personal preference however, we would like to then let the Tenant look around the property by themselves, this is more relaxing and they will be able to take more of the property features in.

If you are letting to Tenants with pets, some Landlord like to meet the pet too so that they can gauge how well trained the animal is!

On the day of the viewing, make sure you call the prospective Tenant in the morning to confirm the time of the appointment and the address of the property.  You would be surprised to learn how many Tenants simply forget they had an appointment to view the property. 

When you have a Tenant that is interested in your property and they wish to apply, it would be in your financial interest to carry out the appropriate Tenant checks.

Referencing a Tenant usually involves 5 reference types namely:

  1. Employment reference
  2. Previous Landlord reference
  3. 6 Year credit check
  4. Bank check
  5. Right-to-Rent check

The employment reference.

Possibly one of the most important aspects referencing a Tenant is the employment reference.  The information gathered should contain:

  • The Tenant's salary
  • Position held within the Company
  • Length of employment
  • Full time / part time or contract

As a rule of thumb, if the Tenant does not earn 30 times the monthly rental (£500 x 30 = £15,000) then ideally, you should ask to have a guarantor sign a guarantee in case the Tenant forfeits on the rent payments.

Previous Landlords reference.

When referencing a Tenant, the previous Landlord should be contacted directly to ascertain the suitability of the Tenant.  The questions that should be asked are as follows:

  • Has the Tenant paid the rent on time and in full throughout the agreement?
  • Has the Tenant caused any damage to the property?
  • Have there been any disputes with regards to deposit?
  • Would you re-let to the Tenant?

If the Landlord positively confirms each of the above, then you should have a satisfactory previous Landlord reference.

6 Year credit check.

The credit check will contain financial information held against the Tenants name and addresses over the previous 6 years.  Any CCJ's (County Court Judgements) or outstanding / missed payments would be highlighted.

As a Landlord, you should look out for signs of unpaid bills as this is a major red flag when dealing with potential loss of rent.

The Tenant would be required to sign an authorisation form prior to any credit checks being carried out.  It is illegal to carry out a credit check on a Tenant without their authority.

Bank check.

Tenants with bank accounts are more likely to pay the rent on time as you would insist on payment by standing order.

Without a bank account, the Tenant would make payment by cash which often leads to issues with late payments.  The information you should gather is the Tenant's bank account, sort code and account name.  It would be advisable to request a copy of a bank statement dated within the last 3 months.

You should never ask for a Tenant to provide their own Tenant references as it is very easy nowadays to forge employment / previous Landlord documents.  Your referencing agency should always contact the Tenant's employer and previous Landlord directly.

Right-to-Rent check.

As per new legislation surrounding the Immigration Act, from the 1st December 2014, landlords letting property in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton are the first to be required to carry out right-to-rent checks and if found to be in breach, could face fines up to £3,000.  The legislation will be rolled out to the rest of the Country during 2015.

Our tenant referencing service will be support the requirements to comply with the Immigration Act. 

All tenants are requested to provide evidence of original right-to-rent documentation at time of viewing.  We believe that this will assist in reducing any time wasted proceeding with an application where the tenant has not got a right to rent a property in the UK.  Tenants will be reminded of this requirement at time of booking a viewing.

A Tenancy Agreement is one of the most important documents when letting a property however, be careful as you can also create an agreement between two parties verbally!  If you are ever talking to a Tenant or communicating in writing, you should always make reference to the term "Subject to Contract".

There are currently 4 kinds of residential tenancies:

  1. The Protected (Rent Act) Tenancy - tenancies entered into before 15 January 1989.
  2. The Assured Tenancy - introduced by the Housing Act 1988.
  3. The Assured Shorthold Tenancy - introduced in 1988 but amended by the 1996 Housing Act.
  4. The Company Let – where it is a company rather than an individual who will sign the Contract.

Most new tenancies are created as an Assured Shorthold, unless the tenant previously had a tenancy on the same property which gives him more security as in the case of an Assured Tenancy.

Definition - The Assured Shorthold can only be terminated by a Court Order following the legal procedure covered in Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988

All new tenancies since 28 February 1997 are automatically Assured Shorthold, unless the agreement has specified an Assured Tenancy.

Tenancy AgreementsAssured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) granted after 29th February 1997 can be terminated by using the legal procedure covered in Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 or Section 21 of the same Act providing the fixed term or the first six months (whichever is the later) of the tenancy has passed by the date that the landlord has asked for the property to be surrendered.

Only a Court Order can enforce either of these Notices and only a court appointed Bailiff can enforce a Court Order.

Therefore, in this instance, you will be creating an AST which is usually for a period of 6 months to a maximum of 3 years – anything longer than 3 years should be drawn up by a solicitor as a deed.

In the agreement, you would have described the method of rent payment and how much deposit will be held until the end of the tenancy which could be used against payment for damage, dilapidations or losses.

Many Landlords in the private sector receive a deposit against possible non-payment of rent or damage to property. When a tenancy comes to an end, there is usually no disagreement about the return of the deposit. But sometimes there is, and this can cause much hardship and inconvenience to both Landlord and Tenant.

The Housing Act 2004 (Chapter 4, sections 212-5; & Schedule 10 – as amended by Section 184 of the Localism Act 2011) made provision for both the protection of tenancy deposits and the resolution of disputes over their return.

The Dispute Service has been awarded a contract by the Government to run one such scheme: The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

The legislation came into effect on 6 April 2007. All deposits taken for Assured Shorthold Tenancies after that date must be covered by a tenancy deposit protection scheme.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme has been set up to service three principle objectives:

  1. Protect deposits throughout the tenancy
  2. Ensure the return of the deposit promptly at the end of the tenancy, where there is no dispute about the deposit
  3. Where there is a dispute about the deposit at the end of the tenancy, ensure it is dealt with fairly and quickly by the Independent Complaints Examiner (ICE)

Any deposit taken after 6th April 2012 must be protected in one of the 5 government approved schemes and within 30 days of taking the deposit from the Tenant.

The Deposit Protection Certificate and Prescribed Information for Tenants, provided by each scheme, must be given to the Tenant and any third party within 30 days of the deposit being received.

Failure to protect the deposit or to provide the correct information within 30 days will mean that the Tenant can apply to the Courts for the return of 100% of the deposit and up to 3 times the same amount in compensation.

A Section 21 Notice cannot be served until the deposit is protected and if this has not been done within the first 30 days it cannot be served at all unless the deposit is returned to the Tenant before Service of the Notice.

Each deposit protection scheme has its own rules and these too must be adhered to, failure to do so will attract the penalties listed above. There are two options the DepositsLandlord can hold the deposit and pay an insurance premium to cover the cost of arbitration in the case of a dispute or the deposit can be lodged with the custodial scheme at no cost and arbitration is paid for from the interest made on the monies lodged.

The amount of the deposit can be between one month rent to a maximum of 1/6th of the annual rent. If more than this is taken it is considered to be a Premium and may change the terms of the Tenancy enabling a Tenant to sub-let the property without the Landlords consent. If the Landlord agrees to let to Tenants with pets you can ask for a pet insurance to be taken out by the Tenant and this will cover any damages caused by the pet.

The Landlord would usually require the first month’s rent to be paid in advance with the deposit and it should always be in cleared funds before the tenant takes possession of the property. (You hand over the keys)

Cleared funds may either be by cash on the start day of the tenancy agreement, by BACS transfer into the Landlord’s account or by cheque, ensuring the check has cleared.

Tip - Remember, if you are accepting cash from the Tenant, make sure that you write a receipt with the date on it, the reason for the payment and the address of the property it relates to.  Sign the receipt and have the Tenant countersign and give the Tenant a copy.  This is best practice and will help you should you require proof of payment received.

In most cases, it would be prudent to set up a standing order from your tenant’s bank account to pay your bank account on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis (determined by the payment frequency in the AST).

You can download a Standing Order Form as part of the Property Management Letter Pack and ask your tenant to complete and send to their bank.

A standing order can be cancelled by the tenant at any time and the landlord cannot insist on this or any other method of payment.  If the rent is paid in full when it is due the Landlord must accept the tenants preferred method of payment, refusal to accept rent paid by any legal means may result in loss of the right to claim that payment.

In our experience, it is highly recommended to have a fully completed, unbiased property inventory and Schedule of Condition prepared before the Tenant is due to move into the property.

There is no legal requirement for the inventory to be drafted by a professional Clerk, however, there is a reason why Clerks become accredited by organisations such as the Independent Association for Inventory Clerks (AIIC) and that is 1) they are kept up to date and operate within the legal framework of residential letting 2) they ensure that professional standards are always maintained and 3) the inventories themselves are unbiased and may hold more weight in court.

Creating an inventory can be very time consuming, particularly if the property has many bedrooms and is furnished, however, if you have the time and inclination, you can purchase a property inventory template (like the example below) and complete it room by room ensuring your descriptions are accurate and fair.

Property Inventory Template

When you are “checking” the Tenant into the property, it is wise to go through the inventory with the Tenant and ask that they sign each page if they are happy with it contents and description about the fixtures and fittings in the property.

You should make amendments to the inventory if the Tenant does not agree with you.  Remember, the same applies as in the description of the property, use specifics when describing the fixtures and fittings.  This inventory will be a vital document at the end of the agreement should the Tenant dispute any damages.

Make sure that you point out where the Tenant reads the meters for Gas and Electricity, show them how to use the alarm (if applicable) and where the ‘stop tap’ is located.

Tip - Meter readings should be recorded on the Inventory at the start and end of each Tenancy.

It is good practice to include the Manufacturers In Use and Safety Instructions with every item provided and list this on the Inventory. This will help in the event that an item is damaged by misuse.

The Gas Safety Regulations 1998 place a statutory duty on all Landlords of residential property to ensure that all gas appliances, pipe work and flues are maintained in a safe condition.

Landlords are bound to certain legal regulations when it comes to gas safety. A Landlords’ legal duties apply to a wide range of accommodation including:

  • Residential properties that are let by local authorities, housing associations, private sector Landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels
  • Rooms let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels
  • Rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways

 

Gas Safety Certificate Example

A Landlord must also provide each Tenant with a copy of the gas safety certificate when they check in.  Never should a Landlord check in a Tenant without a gas safety certificate.  You may be endangering somebody else’s life.

From 1st January 2013 there was a new regulation on gas safety on boilers.  The whole flue must be visible for inspection and if it is not the engineer will not issue a gas safety certificate and will turn off the boiler until the issue is rectified.  This can mean inspection hatches need to be fitted in ceilings or walls where the flue is hidden.

Every electrical appliance supplied by the Landlord must be safe to use; the electrical installation in the house must be completely safe.  Unlike the Gas Safety Regulations, there is no mandatory requirement for the installation to undergo any safety testing unless the property is an HMO, but there is a legal requirement for any property to be inspected by a competent person prior to being offered for rent for the first time – keep a record of this Inspection Report.

In the event that a person is hurt, or worse, a Landlord may face expensive litigation if he cannot show that he was duly diligent with the electric system and therefore having a full Electric Inspection Certificate, which lasts for up to 5 years, throughout the Tenancy would protect the Landlord from this situation.

There is a legal requirement for a visual inspection to be carried out at the turn of every tenancy or annually, whichever happens first.  This can be done by the Landlord but any remedial work must be carried out by a competent person.

Although there is no requirement for equipment to be checked, it’s recommended for every Landlord to check all electrical appliances before the start of a tenancy and regularly thereafter. If the property is an HMO, all appliances that are not hard wired in must have a Portable Appliance Test annually or at the turn of each Tenancy, whichever happens first.

The following guidelines apply to all electrical appliances supplied for the tenancy:

  • live parts should not be accessible
  • leads should not be worn or frayed and be complete with no joins
  • trailing leads and the use of multiple plug adaptors should be avoided
  • correct plugs (marked ‘B SECTION 136’) should be fitted and correctly fused
  • plug sockets should be firmly fastened to the wall or skirting
  • any moving parts should be guarded
  • electric blankets should be serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • microwave doors should be clean, free from corrosion and effective
  • washing machines, cookers, etc, should be serviced and in good working order
  • electrical heaters and central heating appliances should be serviced annually
  • fireguards should meet BS3248
  • any fire extinguishers should be marked ‘BS6575 1985’.

Electrical SafetyPlugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994

This regulation requires that any plug, socket or adapter supplied for intended domestic use complies with the appropriate current standard, and specifically that:

The live and neutral pins on plugs are part insulated so as to prevent shocks when removing plugs from sockets and all plugs are pre-wired.

It is strongly advised that Landlords arrange Landlords buildings insurance on the property that they are letting. The Tenant is responsible for their own possessions and shouldn’t rely on a Landlord’s policy to cover their possessions.

Too often do we hear Landlords say that they have “already taken out buildings and contents insurance” without realising that homeowners insurance is not the right type of insurance for a Tenanted property and in most cases, they would not be covered by the insurers.

Before we explain the somewhat subtle differences in these two types of property insurance, the most important point to stress is that you are unlikely to be covered if you are renting out your property without specialist Landlords insurance.

Insurance companies have taken the stand that generally speaking, a Tenant is less inclined to maintain the property to the standard of the owner and therefore, the risk associated to insuring a Tenanted property is higher.

Equally, as with the nature of letting a property, sometimes you will experience void periods (where the property is vacant in between lets).  Landlords’ insurance should cover unoccupied property for a longer period than homeowners’ insurance.

Another key difference is that malicious damage caused by the Tenant, as well as guests of the Tenant, should be covered by specialist Landlords insurance, unlike homeowners.

Landlords insuranceThe main difference between your own home insurance and Landlords insurance is the added legal liability insurance.  This helps to protect the Landlord against any claims made for example, if an electrical fault causes damage to the property or a person residing in the property.

It is important that Landlords are covered for Public Liability because if the Landlord is successfully sued it could cost the loss of earnings for the life of the litigant – this can be a Tenant or it could be a visitor like a Doctor or other professional and in this case the loss of earning may amount to several £m.

Make sure your Tenant registers with the appropriate utility services. If your Tenants are responsible for utility bills it’s your responsibility to make sure they transfer all the appropriate utility accounts under their name. This includes services like gas, electricity, water and any other utility bill.

Even if your Tenant assures you they have taken care of the matter, you should still check yourself, otherwise you could end up with the bills yourself.

It is good practice to ensure that your Tenancy Agreement has a clause which covers the sharing of information in relation to the Tenancy and then to send a copy of the AST to all the utility companies along with the meter readings with 28 days of the start of the tenancy.

Some Tenants actually pay their bills but leave them in the name of the Landlord or a previous Tenant.

UtilitiesSection 45 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 has made it the joint responsibility of the Landlord and the Tenant to pay any water charges.  If the Landlord does not give the water provider the details of the Tenant within 28 days of the start of the Tenancy the Landlord may be held liable for any outstanding payments.

The Landlord cannot insist on a Tenant using a particular utility supplier, unless the Landlord is paying the bills, but there should be a clause in the AST requiring the Tenant to inform the Landlord if the supplier is changed.

There are two golden rules when letting a property - firstly, you should consider letting the property slightly under market value and secondly, you should respond to your Tenants needs in a courteous and timely fashion.

Lets take a look at these in more detail:

1) Letting the property under market value.

For example, you have a 2 bedroom flat in London and having searched our site and researched the comparables, you will note that there are over 50, 2 bedroom flats in a 3 mile radius each renting at approximately £1000pcm.

A smart Landlord would know that if they let their property under market value such as £900 - £950pcm, the tenant would be inclined to stay in the property a little bit longer – thereby, you increase your tenancy term and hence reduce fees when renewing agreements and the cost of potential voids.

2) Respond to your Tenants needs in a courteous and timely fashion.

For example, if the washing machine breaks down and you have supplied this as a part of the tenancy, try and get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.  When the end of the agreement is near and you would be keen for the tenant to stay on, they will be thinking of the time that you were really helpful or unhelpful which could help them in making a choice as to whether they look for somewhere else to rent or simply stay put.

Managing a PropertyIt is important to give your tenants emergency contact details, if they cannot contact you they may call an expensive out of hours repair service at your expense. It is also important to tell your tenants that you work office hours unless there is an emergency, being a landlord does not mean that we are open 24 hours. This of course means that Landlords should only contact tenants during office hours rather than calling them during the evening or at weekends unless there is an emergency.

Most Landlords would make arrangements to visit the property every 3 months (in a 6 month tenancy agreement) or 6 months (in a 12 month tenancy agreement) to ensure that the Tenant is happy and that you are happy because they are looking after your property.

This is a simple 30 minute meeting and if you take a copy of your Inventory and Schedule of condition with you, there will be no ambiguities between you and your Tenant.

You will need to send a letter in writing to your Tenant giving them at least 24 written notice that you would like to enter the property for an inspection.  For the sake of harmony, we would suggest that you give your Tenants at least a week before showing up for the property inspection.

Property InspectionsIt is important to be clear about what your visit will entail.  Landlords do not have the right to comment on a Tenant lifestyle unless it is causing damage or potential damage to the property.

A sink full of washing up or clothes on the floor will have no impact on the property after the Tenant has left.  On the other hand a fire door that has been propped open or a smoke alarm that has been disabled is not only dangerous for the property but is also dangerous for the Tenants and their visitors and this needs to be addressed.

No one likes being told how to live and, despite the fact that the Landlord owns the property, while it is Tenanted the Landlord has given Possession to the Tenant and it is his home, Landlords must respect that when carrying out a property inspection.

Under the Housing Act 1988, a Landlord who has let a property with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy has a legal right to get the property back at the end of the Tenancy. The Landlord is required to follow the correct legal procedure which includes serving a Notice (under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988) on his Tenant.

Section 21 Notice – Used to regain possession of property that has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy

The Section 21 Notice is divided into two subsections, namely:

1.    Serving Notice during a fixed term
2.    Serving Notice during a Statutory Periodic Tenancy (i.e. when the fixed term has come to an end and the tenant remains in the property)

Different rules apply to these Notices:

Serving a Section 21(1)(b) Notice during Fixed Term Tenancies

The rule here is that Landlords are required to give their tenants a minimum of two months' Notice in writing confirming that he/she wants to take back possession of the property.

The Section 21 Notice must be served on the Tenant before possession action can be started.  In the case of joint Landlords the Notice can be given by any one of them.  Possession under this Section cannot take place during the initial six months of the original Tenancy.

Tip – An extra 3 days should be added if the Notice is to be sent by post as the two months starts when the Tenant receives the Notice.

The Section 21(1)(b) states:

Without prejudice to any right of the Landlord under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy to recover possession of the property let on the Tenancy in accordance with Chapter I above, on or after the coming to an end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which was a fixed-term Tenancy, a court shall make an order for possession of the property if it is satisfied-

  1. that the Assured Shorthold Tenancy has come to an end and no further Assured Tenancy (whether Shorthold or not) is for the time being in existence, other than a Statutory Periodic Tenancy: and
  2. The Landlord, or in the case of joint Landlords, at least one of them has given to the Tenant not less than two months' Notice stating that he requires possession of the dwelling-house.

Notice under this subsection can be served on a Tenant at any time during the fixed term of the Tenancy provided that the Tenant receives a minimum of two months' Notice. This is the case even if the two months’ Notice ends after the Tenancy agreement has expired.

For example, if Notice requiring possession is served on the last day of the Tenancy agreement, the Tenant does not have to give up possession of the property until at least two months after the date that the Notice was served.

The Notice should be dated in accordance with the provisions above.  Also, a Notice should not be dated to expire on or before the last day of the Tenancy as this would be invalid.

For example, where the Tenancy was due to expire on December 31st, then the Section 21 Notice could be served on or before October 31st, and the Notice dated to expire ‘after December 31st'.

Serving a Section 21(4)(a) Notice during Periodic Tenancies

Section 21(4)(a) of the Housing Act 1988 applies to Assured Shorthold tenancies that have become periodic and states:

Without prejudice to any such right as is referred to in subsection (1) above, a court shall make an order for possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which is a periodic Tenancy if the court is satisfied-

  1. that the Landlord or, in the case of joint Landlords, at least one of them has given to the Tenant a Notice stating that, after a date specified in the Notice, being the last day of a period of the Tenancy and not earlier than two months after the date the Notice was given, possession of the property is required by virtue of this section; and
  2. that the date specified in the Notice under paragraph (1) above is not earlier than the earliest day on which, the Tenancy could be brought to an end by a Notice to quit given by the Landlord on the same date  as the Notice under paragraph (1) above

The procedure for serving Notice under SECTION 21(4)(a) is slightly more complicated.

A Notice complying with the above section should only be given to a Tenant whose Tenancy has become a Statutory Periodic Tenancy - a Tenancy that continues after the expiry of a fixed term Assured Shorthold.   A minimum of two months’ notice is required and the day on which the notice expires must be the expiry last day of a period of the Tenancy.

The period of a Tenancy depends on how often the rent is paid.  Thus, if the rent is paid monthly, then the period of the Tenancy is one month.  In order to find out what day is the last day of the period in a particular Tenancy it will be necessary to refer to the original fixed term Tenancy.

The periodic Tenancy begins immediately after the fixed term expires.   E.g. If the period of the Tenancy is monthly and if the first day of the current period is 3rd March then the last day of that period would be the 2nd April and so a Notice served during the current period would need to be completed so as to expire on the last day of a period after a further two months (i.e. 2nd June).

Most cases where a Landlord fails to get a Court Order to enforce a Section 21 fail because the wrong date has been used in the Notice.

If the Tenant does not leave on expiry of the Notice, possession can be sought through the courts by either the normal fixed date action or by using the accelerated possession procedure, which can be done online and may not result in an appearance in Court.

To recover outstanding rent and possession of a property, the Landlord must seek possession by issuing a Notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, as amended by the 1996 Act and it is not necessary to issue a Section 21 Notice as well.

Where Possession has been gained through a Section 21 Notice the Landlord can take separate legal action to recover lost rent.  There is no reason why a Section 8 and a Section 21 Notice cannot be served on the same Tenant, this gives the Landlord two routes to Possession.

Renewals

Where a Section 21 Notice is served during the initial term of the Tenancy requiring possession at the end of the fixed term and the parties later agree to renew the Tenancy for a further fixed term, a fresh Notice will need to be issued to the Tenant(s) before possession can be sought.

If the Tenancy becomes a Statutory Periodic Tenancy, following a fixed term the Section 21 Notice will remain valid.

How to serve a Section 21 Notice

A Section 21 Notice may be served by post or in person.   The courts will recognise the day of postal service as the day on which the letter would normally have arrived.  When using postal service, it is recommended that you post the Notice in two separate Post Offices and get proof of postage which is free of charge.

A Notice can be handed to the Tenant or posted through the letter box of the property.  Whichever method of Service you use always get a witness statement stating that the witness read the Notice and noted that it was to (name of Tenant) at (address of property) and that it was posted/handed at xxx (time) on xxxx (date).  This is to avoid delays in legal action where the Tenant denies receiving the Notice or says that an empty envelope arrived.

Possession Proceedings

Once you have issued the Section 21 Notice on your Tenant, you are required to wait until the Notice has expired (this is the day following the date given on the Notice) before you can start possession proceedings.  If the Tenant has not vacated, or paid up any rent arrears by this point, then it will be necessary to start court possession proceedings.  This is done by obtaining the appropriate forms from your local court.  There are two procedures that can be used; the standard possession procedure and the accelerated possession procedure (APP).

The Housing Act 1996

The Housing Act 1996 amended the Section 21 of the 1988 Act by requiring the Notice given to be in writing.  There is still no prescribed form.  The Notice will be valid providing it contains the information required by the relevant section and sub-sections.  Notices meeting these requirements are available from lettingaproperty.com and other various legal stationers.

End of Landlord advice guide - thank you for reading.

Learning how to evict a tenant is relatively straightforward however, it is estimated that around 50% of landlords and agents follow the process incorrectly and end up loosing more than a few months rent and legal fees.

With the help of one of the Country's leading tenant eviction specialists, we have put together a general overview of the process of how to evict a tenant however, the information here is not designed to help anyone evict a tenant without seeking expert help. 

We strongly recommend that if you do find yourself in a position where you will need to evict a tenant, you contact a reputable tenant eviction specialist.

GET HELP - Request a call back

There is no escaping that the process of tenant eviction will set you back financially, and during the process you might not receive further rent. Therefore, it is very important to ensure the eviction process has been carried out correctly and as quickly as possible.

How to evict a tenant using Section 21 or a Section 8

As most tenancy agreements are created as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), under the Housing Act 1988, there are only two processes that can be used to end an AST agreement:

  1. The Section 21 Notice and
  2. The Section 8 Notice.

There are other processes to follow for non AST agreements however, as AST's are the most common, this will be the main focus of this article.

Step 1 - Serving a Notice on the tenant

Circumstances of the tenancy may determine which Section Notice to use, either the Section 21 or Section 8 procedure, or you may have no choice but to follow a particular process.  An eviction specialist will be able to discuss your individual case with you to decide which route will be best to take.  On occasion, both Notices may be served and then a decision is made as to which is going to be the best procedure to follow.

Evicting a tenant under a Section 21 Notice

This is the most common of Notices used when regaining possession of the property.  Under Section 21 the landlord is simply asking for the property back and is not accusing the tenant of anything i.e. late rent payment.

The tenant is given a statutory notice period of a minimum of two months by the landlord however, the tenant cannot be asked to leave before the end of the fixed term of the original tenancy unless a break clause was written into the original agreement.

Regaining possession using a Section 21 Notice can be relatively straight forward as long as the landlord has complied with all the tenancy regulations such as deposit regulations, notice periods etc and most importantly has drafted the Section 21 Notice correctly and has served it on the tenant correctly. The notice requires the tenant to leave by a given date. The good news is that around 60% of tenants do leave after this notice has been served.

If the tenant remains in the property once the possession date has passed, the next step would be for the landlord to apply directly to the courts. As the tenant is not being accused of anything, there is no requirement for a court hearing.  A judge simply reviews the papers submitted by the landlord and if everything is in order, the landlord will be granted possession of the property.

To receive a possession order can take up to six weeks and from there, the court will write to the tenant ordering them to leave.

Evicting a tenant under a Section 8 Notice

Under Section 8 the landlord is asking for his property back on the grounds that the tenant has defaulted under the terms of the tenancy agreement. This might be non-payment of rent or any one of several other grounds allowed (by Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988).

The tenant is first served a notice which includes the landlord's grounds for seeking possession and his evidence, e.g. rent arrears schedule. The notice gives the tenant a date by which to leave - at least 14 days after the notice is served.

In 60% of cases, when a tenant receives the Section 8 Notice, they do leave the property. If they don't leave, the process will be escalated to Step 2

Step 2 - Applying for a possession order from a court

This is when the notice, or the way it was served, did not fully comply with the law. All too often you could end up starting all over again.

In London, it can take 6 weeks before you get a court hearing date. Courts elsewhere aren't so busy, but they can still take several weeks.

At court, it is always recommended that the landlord attends. They are represented by one of our advocates but it helps to have the landlord there as he can verify any facts for the judge.

Using mandatory grounds, as long as we can prove that the tenant has breached the tenancy, the court must grant our landlord possession. If there are rent arrears, we would also seek a money order from the court.

If granted, possession is usually ordered for 14 days later. The tenant may not have been at court and will be written to anyway.

DIY tenant eviction vs using specialist services

Many landlords serve tenant eviction Notices themselves. They believe they are saving a few pounds however, it often ends up costing them more.

There are thousands of served Notices that are invalid unfortunately, they are only uncovered when the case gets to court (Step2). Then, a judge might throw the case out because the Notice is invalid or a tenant might put in a defence. If you lose a claim, the court will usually order you to pay the tenant's defence cost, which can run to hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Advice is available on the internet about how to serve a Notice, however, it would be impossible to list all the many variables that can make a Notice invalid.  We strongly advise landlords that if they are uncertain about the process and drafting a Notice, they should contact a specialist tenant eviction firm. 

We can put you in touch with a tenant eviction specialist who will be happy to discuss your case with you and if you wish to proceed with their service, the first step (Serving Notice) is just a flat fee of £117.60 including vat.

GET HELP - Request a call back

Meet the founders of LettingaProperty.com

JonathanDaines
Jonathan Daines
Founder, CEO
Read Biography
  
Matthew DainesMatthew Daines
Co-Founder, COO
Read Biography

Media Enquiries

The latest media content from LettingaProperty.com, including press releases, video case studies and testimonials.

Contact:
Jenny HoldenJenny Holden
0333 577 8888
jenny @ dawnchoruspr.com

Wonderful Service

5

I've been using Lettingaproperty.com for 7yrs and they are a wonderful set of people. The website is easy to use and set-up your properties and the team are always there to provide helpful advice and assistance. My ads upload quickly to Rightmove and the enquiries are efficiently sent to me...

Very professional and friendly

5

After researching local estates for find a tenant service and realising the services offered didn't meet my requirements, I decided to look on Landlord Blog site and read what other landlords were doing to find a new tenant. That's how I found out about Letting a Property, the reviews...

Excellent Service

5

We were very impressed by the service from LettingaProperty.com. We were kept highly informed all throughout the process via email and phone and found the staff very friendly and prompt.
We also appreciated the fact that a lot of the paperwork was simple to complete, transparent and all...