If you have a property to rent, choosing a letting agent is the hassle free choice. A letting agent will take care of marketing your property and speed up the rental process. By marketing your own property you leave yourself open to dishonest individuals who may not be who they say they are. A letting agent has the ability to find suitable tenants for your property, as an agent is usually the first point of call for people searching for properties. Your property will get a lot more coverage because it will be listed on top property websites and publications.
A letting agent will vet candidates, interviewing and obtaining credit references and guarantors where necessary, minimizing the risk of potential problems later down the line. Moreover, a letting agent can provide invaluable advice regarding the constantly evolving letting regulations, protecting the landlord legally and ensuring the letting fee is money well spent.
Can I manage my property myself?
Of course, some landlords have managed their own property successfully, but remember the administration and keeping up to date with the legality can be very time consuming. You can employ a letting agent to do as much or as little as you stipulate, they can also be very useful should a dispute arise. This allows landlords to remain in control of the tenancy but relieves the burden of extensive labour.
How is the rent paid?
Usually a tenant is required to set up a direct debit from their bank to ensure that the rent is paid prior to the due date. The letting agent will then pay the rents to you using BACS transfer, following the deduction of their fees and any expenses.
What sort of agreement is used?
There are a variety of agreements used, the terms of which depend on the circumstances of the tenant, the landlord and the property. However, the most common agreement for a fixed period of at least six months is known as the Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
What if the tenant fails to pay rent?
The vetting and referencing procedures employed by many letting agencies significantly reduces the risk of this, however a letting agent can provide advice should this happen.
Will the tenant pay a deposit?
Tenants are generally required to surrender a deposit equal to one-and-a-half month’s rent. This deposit is refunded to the tenant on vacating the property subject to it being left in a satisfactory condition and after fulfilling all responsibilities detailed within the Tenancy Agreement.
What will happen when a tenant leaves the property?
If the tenant vacates the property a landlord will be required to let their insurance company know that the property is empty. While the property is empty the letting agent will be striving to find new tenants as they only charge commission on rent from the tenant.
What are my outgoings?
A landlord will retain responsibility for the mortgage, buildings insurance, any repairs and property maintenance required along with agents fees, if the property is empty for any time a landlord will resume responsibility for utility bills and council tax.
Will I need to pay tax?
The landlord will be liable to pay tax according to circumstances on any profit generated from the letting of the property. Landlords overseas for a period exceeding six months shall be considered non-resident landlords. The letting agent acting on behalf of a non resident landlord is required to deduct tax at the basic rate from any rents received, however a landlord can apply to HM Revenue and Customs for approval to have their rental income paid to them before tax is deducted. In the case of joint landlords, an exemption certificate is required for both parties, in which case tax will no longer be deducted by the letting agent. The landlord should seek advice both from HM Revenue and Customs and the letting agent.
Do I need to tell my insurance company?
It is essential that the landlord’s insurer is informed of any changes in the status of the property or any change in occupancy. Your insurance cover may lapse if you don’t notify the company that the property is being rented, the company may not provide a service suitable for your requirements.
What do I do if my property is leasehold?
If the property is leasehold then the managing agents or freeholders must be advised as a change in occupancy may affect the buildings insurance. Before letting a property where you own the leasehold, permission should be sought, and any relevant information passed to your letting agent.
Who looks after the garden?
A tenant is usually responsible for maintaining the garden to the standard it is when they move in, unless specified otherwise in the agreement. It would be to the benefit of the landlord to provide the materials required to maintain the garden even in unfurnished properties.
Do I need to provide furniture?
The landlord is under no obligation to provide furniture, particularly as there is very little difference in rental value between a furnished and unfurnished property. Advice should be sought from the letting agent as to the most appropriate option for a particular property. Even if your property is to rent as unfurnished, you will be expected to provide carpets and curtains and possibly white goods. Requirements for a furnished property depend upon the style and location of the property, again with advice being available from the letting agent.
Is it a requirement to fit smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms are required by law in any new building and conversion and it is recommended that at least one alarm should be installed on every floor of the property.
Who is responsible for any repairs?
Due to the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act the landlord is under legal obligation to maintain the structure of the building, the sanitation and the supply of services. Moreover, in accord with the terms of the Tenancy Agreement the landlord would be required to replace any item worn out or broken through fair use.
Do I need to tell my mortgage company that I’m letting my property?
As a landlord you must notify your mortgage company, and obtain their consent when you are considering renting out a property.
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