Browsing all articles tagged with letting agreement » LettingLinks - Connecting Landlords & Tenants
Nov
27

Using a Rental Agent? Which Service Should I Go For?

Is this your first time letting out a property? Maybe you’re planning on using an Agent but you really aren’t sure what service you should be using. They generally fall under 3 different types of service categories.

Introduction Only or Let Only

As you can imagine from the name, this is the basic service that will market your property for you and be available for potential tenants to view the unit. The Agent would then take references, for which the prospective tenant would most likely be charged for this service. Once a suitable tenant was found, you would probably pay extra to your agent to have the tenancy agreement written up and signed. As soon as the tenant moves in the agents service is complete and the responsibility for collecting rent and taking care of the property falls back to you – the Landlord.

Rent Collection

Most agents will market this service as an add-on to the Let Only model, but is again a basic service that has its limitations. The agent will collect the rent on your behalf by setting up a standing order with the tenant’s bank account to have the monthly rent transferred into a rental account which would then be transferred to you. This is not a rent Guarantee. The agent will most likely have a few standard letters that would go out to remind the tenant that the rent is due, should they go into arrears, and he might even make a few calls on your behalf. If however the matter becomes a court situation in order to collect back rent, this would become your responsibility. If you want to save the 2 – 3% that the agent would charge, it would be just as easy for you to set up the standing order yourself.

Full Management

This is the hardest decision to make; do you want to manage the property yourself or hire an agent to do this for you. There are several things you should consider before making this decision.

If for example you do not live locally, it would be quite impossible for you to be there quickly should there be an emergency, or to do check ins and outs, or for periodic inspections.

How knowledgeable are you about repairs and maintenance? You need to have a basic understanding to be able to figure out what was wrong, and either how to fix it or who you should call. And without the basics, it becomes more likely that you could be taken advantage of by some unscrupulous tradesman. This is where an agent would have the advantage, especially if they have several properties they are managing. They would hopefully have a good team of tradespeople they could call on, and if they are giving them steady work, the tradespeople have a tendency of putting letting agents in priority sequences.

And the most important question you need to answer is: do you have the time it takes to manage the property yourself? Problems have a way of occurring at the worst possible time and could interfere with your other commitments, such as family. Your tenant doesn’t care what he’s interrupting; all he knows is that he has a problem and wants it fixed – now!

If after reading this you’ve decided that managing the property yourself is just not worth it, try to negotiate with the letting agent about their management fee. Most agents like the benefits of managing the properties such as receiving repeat let only fees so they are more likely to be flexible when charging a management fee. Let Only fees are usually paid up front whereas the management fee would be received monthly.

In order to find the right letting agent for you, why not let ‘Letting Links’ help you find what you are looking for? We can even match you up with some potential tenants, so check out our services.

Nov
5

How To Rent a Property – The Tenant’s Guide

 

How To Rent a PropertyThe rental business is fast and finding the right letting agent or landlord is very important to assist in the process and sometimes using a property portal like Lettinglinks.com can help a great deal. Letting Links is trying to make the process of connecting tenants, landlords and/or agents smooth and painless.

Once you’ve made a connection with an agent, make sure they know exactly what it is you’re looking for in a property, including your budget, location and length of the term. Make sure he is aware of how serious you are so that he’s bound to put you at the top of the list when appropriate properties become available. It’s also very helpful if you can give specific feedback to the agent after each viewing so he’ll know when he’s on the right track and when he’s off base.

Letting agents will generally ask for an administration fee of between £25 and £150, as well as a deposit of around £50 to £200. This deposit will be used towards your first month’s rent unless you pull out of the deal in which case you would likely lose it all. For this reason you should ensure you have a reputable letting agent so you can be comfortable with handing over your money. You should also ask the age of the property and if it’s looking a little on the tired side, find out how long it’s been on the market – you may just be able to make a deal.

So now you’ve found the property you want to live in – now comes the signing of the tenancy agreement. This is a legally binding document and should be treated with respect and serious consideration. It will have a lot of information such as: party’s names, the address of the property, the term, how much rent is expected and when and what percentage of an increase can be expected, the responsibilities of both parties, information about the inventory, the deposit scheme and the notice period that either you or the landlord must give in order to end the tenancy.

Of course your new potential landlord will want to make sure you are a suitable tenant which means you will likely need to provide references such as previous landlords, bank reference, employment and possibly a credit check.

Generally you will be asked to pay a deposit which could be anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks’ worth of rent in order to safe guard your landlord should there be damage done to his property while you are living there. Since there are several discrepancies when it comes to what is wear and tear or what is damage, you need to have an accurate list of inventory and the condition of the property prior to signing an agreement. In April 2007 the Tenancy Deposit Protection was introduced to apply to all properties being let in England and Wales. This protection will help if there are any disputes between landlords and tenants. Also each deposit is to be held in one of three approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes.

The inventory that was mentioned is one of the most important documents that you will receive at the beginning of the tenancy. It takes careful notice of the condition of each room, the interior and exterior of the property and anything that is included in the rental such as a fridge, cookery, air conditioner or furniture if applicable. The difference between the inventor taken at the beginning of the tenancy and the end of the tenancy will determine how much of your deposit you will get back.

The most important form of course is the Tenancy Agreement and the most common is the Assured Shorthold Tenancies Agreement. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant, but the most important aspect is the right of the landlord to repossess the property at the end of the tenancy. If all parties are happy the term does not have to be short, however if the term is more than 3 years a solicitor must draw up a deed.

Although it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the safety of the property and any appliances that are included, it is your responsibility to make sure that the landlord has secured the proper certificates so that your safety is never in question.

As we stated at the beginning finding the right landlord and/or letting agent is the key to a successful rental and we hope you can find that connection by looking into Letting Links. Don’t let the process give you too much pressure – just be diligent and careful so you can feel comfortable with your choices.

Lettinglinks.com is a social networking site that connects landlords with tenants. If you are interested in letting a property then visit the main site and create your account in seconds. The site is 100% FREE to use. Gain access to thousands of UK registered landlords and their properties NOW! 

Nov
3

Letting a House – A Landlord’s Guide

Letting a House

So you’ve decided to enter into the world of property letting? Before you rush off to advertise for that first tenant there are several things you should consider and do prior to that step. As with anything worthwhile it’s worth doing well, so you’ll want to remember that first impressions are everything. Take a close look at your property and see if there’s anything you could do to make your property more appealing, both internally and externally.

Haul away some garbage or tidy up the gardens, maybe throw a little paint on some unsightly walls so that the property looks its best. The same principles apply to letting a property as it does to someone who is trying to sell a property, so you’ll need to maintain this condition throughout the letting process.

There are also several safety standards you’ll most definitely need to follow and make sure that you comply with before letting the property. Some of these safety standards are; Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, as amended 1993 and Smoke Detectors Act 1991 Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

As the landlord you are expected to be able to produce certificates for all of these to show compliance, where applicable. You should also look into obtaining a Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) for any electrical appliance that you plan on including in your rental unit. If you happen to have furniture that was made prior to 1988, you should seriously consider replacing it as the furniture will not meet the necessary standards. You should include any item that has upholstery or material such as beds, mattresses, cushions, headboards or sofa beds.

The following are items that are exempt from this legislation:

Sleeping bags, duvets, blankets, carpets and curtains and any furniture made before 1950.

There are severe consequences – from heavy fines to prison sentences – for non-compliance if an accident were to happen, so it is in your best interest to be aware of the standards and how to check that your possessions are up to par.

This goes hand in hand with making sure you are also in compliance with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that has been required since October 2008. Energy efficiency is not only required by law these days but as our earth is in need of our help, it is the duty of each citizen to do our best to improve the carbon emissions and the way in which we leave our foot prints behind.

Landlords should contact their local authorities if the property you are about to let is within the House in Multiple  Occupation (HMO) leasing, as there are specific standards for this type of housing that you will need to comply with.

Other items you will need to make sure you have are; an agreed inventory which will be included in the tenancy agreement; permission from your lender (if you have a mortgage); advise your insurance company what items you intend to include in your insurance policy and what items will be the responsibility of the tenant.

Ever since April 6 2007, landlords who accept a deposit on the property must ensure that the deposit is held by an authorised deposit scheme. This protects the deposit and helps deal with disputes quickly. As landlord you must inform the tenant within 14 days of receiving the deposit which scheme you are using and giving the tenant all of the pertinent information.

At this point you’ll want to decide whether to manage the property yourself or hire a letting agent to manage the day to day operations of the building, including finding the right tenant(s), handling the viewings and paperwork, and assist in working out the appropriate rent to charge for your specific location. Having an agent certainly lessens the worry and allows you to pursue other interests. The letting agent will also handle the marketing of your property since he will likely be experienced in this area. You will need to sign an agreement with this agent so make sure you read your contract carefully and don’t go into a lengthy term. Here at Letting Links we can help find that suitable letting agent or for that matter, an appropriate tenant.

And lastly, here are a few items that you should consider as your checklist: Get permission from your lending source; if you plan on making structural changes to the property, get approval from the council’s planning office; get in touch with the Environmental Health Department (if you have a HMO); get all of your safety certificates in order and include having the wiring checked out by a licensed electrician; inform Council Tax department and utility suppliers that you plan on letting the property.

Although it sounds extensive, it will prove to be worthwhile in the end. Now that all of the hard work has been done you can sit back and enjoy the experience of being a landlord. And welcome to the world of property letting! Contact us at Letting Links if you need any assistance along your journey!

Lettinglinks.com is a social networking site that connects landlords with tenants. If you are looking to rent out your property then visit the main site and create your account in seconds. The site is 100% FREE to use. Gain access to thousands of UK registered tenants NOW!

 

 

Sep
30

Tenancy Deposit Schemes – Basic Guidelines

Ever since the Government introduced The Housing Act 2004 to protect the tenancy deposits under the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, there have been 3 companies awarded the rights to run two types of Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes.  Both of these schemes apply to residential property being rented in England or Wales, no matter whether the landlord and/or managing agent operates overseas.  Theses schemes do not apply to commercial property, when rent would be greater than £25,000 or if the landlord is also a resident of the property.

Both types of Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes are generally supported by some sort of call centre and some would have a way of performing on-line registration or paying for the deposit.  A deposit has been set out as any amount of money paid in addition to rent as security and would include fees for cleaning and amount added to the rent monthly as long as the tenancy deposit is not used for making repairs or paying expenses.

The Custodial Tenancy Deposit Scheme is a deposit held by the scheme in a separate account where the fees were funded by the accruing interest of the Tenancy Deposit or by the government if the interest rate was too low to generate enough interest.   Within this scheme there are two ways in which the deposit is handled.
Several tenants could each give a deposit and it would be designated as Room A, Room B, etc, or there can be one deposit representing all of the tenants.  A main tenant would be chosen for correspondence purposes, however if tenants chose to vacate at separate intervals, this plan would be extremely difficult to control as the deposit must be repaid in full.

The Insurance Based Tenancy Deposit Scheme is differentiated by the deposit being held by the landlord and/or managing agent and is secured by the landlord paying fees and an insurance premium to a Scheme administrator.  It would be the administrator’s duty to ensure enough insurance was in place in order to assure full repayment of the Tenancy Deposit.  Within this type of schemes there are two approved – one being “The Tenancy Deposit Scheme” which can be used by all landlords, however, since April 6, 2009 this scheme can only be used by regulated agents.  The second scheme is the “MyDeposits” (previously known as Tenancy Deposit
Solutions Ltd.) and is aimed more for the landlords.  It consists of a onetime fee plus additional fee for each tenancy deposit, as well as an annual renewal fee.

The penalties can be quite severe for landlords who don’t comply with the Housing Act, so understanding the necessary information is vital to all parties.   At the end of the tenancy agreement both parties will need to come to an agreement as to the amount of the tenancy deposit due as a return to the
tenant.  If both parties are in agreement, the tenancy deposit is required to be returned within 10 days.

If however there is a disagreement over the amount, the desired course
of action would be to go through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), rather than having to resort to the courts.

 

The Tenancy Deposit Schemes have been put into place to protect all parties, and it is the responsibility of both parties to understand what is required of them prior to entering into any sort of tenancy agreement.    As with any legal document you should always try to obtain legal advice prior to making a decision on which Tenancy Deposit Scheme you wish to venture into, as well as the tenancy agreement.

Sep
19

Tenancy Agreements — Know Your Rights

When first moving into a new flat or rental unit, the excitement can be over-whelming. While this is always a good sign, it is always important to know and remember your rights as a tenant, should you need to exercise them in the event of a problem during the letting period. Likewise, as a landlord it is equally important to know and understand what the rights of both you and your tenants, should there be an issue down the road.

Insurance is the first right both the tenant and the landlord share equally. On the landlord side, maintaining adequate insurance on the rental property is the utmost important way to secure your investment, in the event of an accident. This means, while the tenant is living there, should a fire, flood arson etc. happen, your physical home is covered. Always check with an insurance agent about proper coverage for your unit. A tenant should always secure insurance on a rental property prior to moving in, for the same reasons. Should there be an accident or incident in the home, many times a landlords insurance will not cover your own private property (think you bed,television, computer or kitchen appliances.)

Rental upkeep is yet another common right both landlords and tenants share equally. In the event of repairs being needed on the rental unit, it is the landlords responsibility to make sure they are made in an orderly and prompt fashion. In order to notify the owner of such needed repairs, they are expected to provide accurate and current contact information to the tenant.

As a property owner, you have the right to ensure your property is being treated properly (not damaged or used for malicious purposes) and as such, you are entitled to enter the property after giving the tenant 24 hours notice.

In regards to monetary amounts, a landlord must put the rental deposit in trust immediately after approving the lease (see rental deposits for more information) and ensure the amount is returned promptly within 30 days of the lease being terminated. In the event of needed repairs, property owners need to justify withholding any monies from the tenant. Likewise, a landlord also has the right to collect any past due rent or arrears from the tenant. A landlord may visit their tenant at any time to request the amounts in full.

Subject to not receiving any compensation, a landlord also has the right to remove any tenant from their property (only following proper legal actions.)

Knowing and respecting tenancy rights is both a landlord and tenants responsibility meant to be shared equally. Knowing these rights can save hours of frustration down the road, should a problem arise.

Sep
19

Types Of Letting Agreements

There are two basic letting agreements regarding letting a flat or house.  Both agreements are legally binding and should be determined by how long the unit is needed for.  No matter which letting agreement is settled on, both parties should investigate all legal documents needing to be signed to protect themselves should a problem arise.

One of the letting agreements is called, Assured Shorthold. This agreement has to be for a minimum of six months without an increase in the rental amount during this time. At no time can a landlord evict a tenant before the end of the binding letting agreement, unless there is a court order and just cause.   After the term has expired, the tenant can be asked to leave.

The second letting agreement is called, Assured Tenancy. This agreement is a more secure rental when needing housing for a longer period of time.  The landlord can not evict the tenant before the expiry of the letting agreement unless there is eviction grounds filed with a court.  If a tenant receives a notice to vacate the property, it is advised to seek legal advice immediately.  Whether the flat or house is left unoccupied by the tenant before the end of the agreement, the tenant is still liable for the rent.  There is an option of subletting the flat to another occupant, however, the landlord must approve of this change in occupancy, therefore ending the agreement.

If a tenant is not sure which letting agreement is best suited for them, it is best to investigate each agreement before signing it.  If there are going to be joint or multiple occupants in one flat or house, and the agreement states, jointly or severally liable, than all tenants are responsible for the rent and any damage charges if one or all the tenants vacate the flat or house.

Once the flat has been agreed on, a tenant should agree with an inventory and schedule of condition with the landlord.  This letting agreement can be done by either party and should be signed by both parties at the beginning and end of each let cycle. An inventory and schedule of contents states the contents in the house or flat along with the cleanliness, decoration and damage, if any, of the unit.  This assures the tenant will not be charged or be held responsible for existing damage.  It also assures the landlord the state of the flat is in good working order.

Knowing what each letting agreement entails are imperative before signing any legal document.  Moving can be a stressful situation on its own, let alone, having the added stress of having to leave the flat or house at an unwanted time.

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