Guest Blog - The Process of Letting

These are simple steps to ensure everything runs smoothly (fingers crossed!).

At the beginning of the tenancy

• Choose a letting agent who will find the tenant
• You should ensure the property is professionally cleaned
• You or your letting agent will arrange for the gas safety certificate, the EPC and electrical safety PAT testing and certification prior to the start of the tenancy.

For Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) starting on or after 1st October 2015

For ASTs that begin on or after this date, you now need to provide the following documents to tenants at the start of each fixed term tenancy (your letting agent should do this!):

• Gas appliance safety certificate
• An energy performance certificate (EPC)
• The government’s document called ‘How to rent: The checklist for renting in England’ – you can download a copy from the website

To comply with legislation, you or your letting agent will ensure there is a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a boiler and will ensure smoke detectors are in each of the bedrooms and reception rooms. You will need to make sure that this is tested and documented before the start of the tenancy. You should also read the meters.

You will have to deal with any tenant requests prior to the start of tenancy, including requests for furniture or repairs – it’s best to negotiate and understand this prior to signing the tenancy agreement.

Usually the letting agent will arrange for the inventory – make sure you do this so that you have something to compare against at check-out.

The letting agent will then draw up the tenancy agreement and circulate this for signing.

The letting agent will give the tenants your account details (usually they will collect the first month’s rent and then deduct their fees).

Your or the letting agent will register the tenant’s deposit with a registered deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it. You must then send the filled in prescribed information template and a copy of the terms of conditions. Then send this by email and post. If you don’t know how to do this then please ask the letting agent to arrange.

Really important information about deposits for tenancies beginning after 1st October 2015
(make sure your letting agent takes charge here, but it is worth you knowing):

If a landlord took a deposit after 6th April 2007, but missed the deadline to get it registered by 23rd July 2015, then this is how the law stands.

1. If the landlord has not registered a deposit in a government-backed deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the money, the landlord has to return the deposit money to the tenant immediately, as until the landlord does so they cannot serve a Section 21 Notice (for eviction).

2. If the prescribed information relating to the deposit has not been given to the tenants and any other relevant persons within 30 days of the deposit being received, then the landlord cannot serve a s. 21 notice. (‘relevant person’ presumably means guarantors, or anyone who helped pay for the deposit).

3. However, so long as the deposit money has been put into a scheme within 30 days, the ‘prescribed information’ relating to the deposit can be served at a later date, which then allows the landlord to serve a section 21 notice.

4. Do not expect the deposit scheme to provide the ‘prescribed information’ to the tenants, whatever the scheme suggests it might do. It is the landlord’s explicit responsibility to make sure all relevant persons receive the prescribed information. If in any doubt whatsoever, serve the documents yourself, keeping good evidence of having done so.

5. Also check with the scheme what documents constitute the prescribed information. The website of one deposit scheme is far from clear what documents to use. If you are not clear, ring the scheme.

6. Any deadlines for compliance with the rules that are missed mean that the landlord will be liable to the tenant for between one and three times the amount of the deposit, should the tenant bring a claim, or a counterclaim.

You will then need to arrange for the keys to be given to the tenant and so the tenancy begins.

During the tenancy

New rules for tenancies which started after 1st October 2015:

Complaints about the property

Any complaint in writing from the tenant about the condition of a property has to be responded to within 14 days. The landlord has to set out in his reply:

1. What he intends to do
2. The timeline for doing the repair work

If the landlord then either:

1. Fails to reply to the written complaint,
2. Gives an inadequate reply, or
3. Serves a section 21 notice

The tenant can complain to the local authority who must inspect the property. If the local authority inspects the property it can:

1. Serve a remedial notice
2. Carry out emergency remedial action

At this point the landlord’s rights to evict under s. 21 will be held in limbo, since:

1. No section 21 notice previously served will be valid
2. No further notice may be served for 6 months

However, the landlord can still serve a section 8 notice, but given the repair issues, the tenant may take the opportunity to try and counterclaim to prevent possession and claim damages.

At the end of the tenancy

You will agree the key hand-back date from the tenant.

You should arrange for the checkout (use the same contractor that did the inventory at the start of the tenancy) to be completed at the same time as you meet the tenants at the property to take back the keys and read the meters.

You can then compare the inventory with the checkout and determine how much should be deducted from the deposit.

You or the letting agent will then contact the deposit protection service to return the deposit, deducting any compensation for loss of rent or any damage above and beyond fair wear and tear.

To get further advice on buying property, whether you’re a first time buyer or purchasing a buy-to-let house then please check out www.ncrealestate.co.uk or find us on Facebook.

A guest blog by Natasha Collins


Disclaimer – This is a guest blog and therefore does not represent the views of Right Surveyors Ltd or any affiliated company.

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