Most mortgages of houses and flats require the borrower to get permission from the bank or building society before granting a tenancy. If the borrower grants a tenancy without permission, the lender might demand repayment of the loan. The lender might also ask a court to end the tenancy. If the Landlord has a mortgage on the property, he/she should therefore check with the lender before granting a tenancy.
On receipt of your signed agreement, we will advertise your property on Rightmove, Prime Location & Zoopla websites and send out the property details to prospective tenants. All appointments to view are agreed with you beforehand and we supervise accompaniment.
The Landlord should advise us if he will accept sharers and/or DSS tenants or would only consider professional couples / families. Landlords also often choose to exclude smokers and pets.
Once we secure a tenant, we take up references via a credit checking company, which include Bank, Employer’s, existing Landlord or Mortgagees and an independent status enquiry from a person who has known the tenant for at least 2 years. The approval will normally be received back within 24 hours.
On receipt of satisfactory replies, the agreement will be drawn up, inventory and necessary documentation.
The type of agreement that we use is called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is for a minimum of 6 and recommended maximum of 12 months (which is called a ‘term certain’) either furnished or unfurnished, the rent being payable monthly in advance. In addition, the tenant is responsible for electricity, gas, telephone, water and council tax, unless you instruct us to the contrary.
The Agreement sets down reciprocal obligations together with your rights of enforcement and repossession in the event of default by the tenant.
The tenant is in charge of the property and must act in a responsible manner, ensuring that it is properly secured when left vacant, maintaining adequate heating during the winter months, cultivating the garden (if any) and generally behaving as a reasonable owner.
If the property is leasehold, the tenant is also bound by the rules contained in your lease. We require a copy of the lease for our reference and that of the tenant, prior to completion.
You are responsible for maintaining the structure, external and internal decorative appearance of the property and installations subject to general wear and tear on the furniture and fittings. You are also required to keep the building and your contents properly insured. The tenant must insure his/her own personal belongings.
Subject to complying with the conditions set out in the Agreement, the tenant is entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the property during the term without any interruption. Any visits should be agreed with the tenant by prior appointment if possible at least 48 hours beforehand. The Agreement sets out further conditions in detail.
The document also provides statutory rights and protection in order to secure vacant possession at the end of the tenancy.
On completion of the Agreement, we collect a deposit equivalent to the amount of rent payable for one and a half months. If you choose full management, this sum is held by The Deposit Protection Scheme during the tenancy as secured against damage or expenses, e.g. gardening or cleaning costs necessitated by the tenant’s use of the property. It will not be released to the tenant until after he/she vacates the property and all service accounts have been paid, i.e. water, council tax, electricity, gas and telephone.
If you choose unmanaged, the deposit will be your responsibility and will be forwarded to you shortly after completion.
On completion of the Agreement we collect the first month’s rent in advance and we remit the balance due to you less any fees due to Fitz Homes. Thereafter we request payment by bank standing order.
If you choose full management, this is payable to ourselves and will be forwarded to you on a monthly basis, less our fees, together with a statement for your information.
For unmanaged, the tenant will pay the full amount due on a monthly basis directly into your bank account.
For fully managed properties, on completion we read the service meters and can transfer all utilities into the tenant’s name for the course of the Agreement. You are normally responsible for any accounts incurred prior to commencement of our instructions and between tenancies.
The tenant is also responsible for payment of council tax, water, use of telephone (if any) and for payment of a television licence regardless of whether or not a television is provided by you.
For managed properties, at the end of the tenancy we shall take final meter readings. The tenant will be responsible for payment of final accounts on all services and council tax up to the date of departure. If necessary, we shall deduct them from the security deposit.
For unmanaged properties, it will be your responsibility to take final meter readings and ensure outstanding accounts for services and council tax are settled.
An inventory of the contents (furniture, fittings and effects) recording their general condition is necessary. For fully managed properties, we will prepare this important document for you and include it in your set up fee. The inventory is checked and agreed with you and the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and verified again at the end of the term. Payment for any missing or damaged items is usually deducted from the tenant’s deposit.
We will not provide an inventory for unmanaged properties, but once again stress the importance of this document.
If we are instructed to manage the property on your behalf, we shall carry out regular inspections to check the condition, cleanliness, state of garden (if any) and progress of the tenancy. We shall report any difficulties to you and endeavour to resolve them satisfactorily.
If full management is chosen, Fitz Homes will be the point of contact for routine and emergency maintenance. We will supervise any repairs and maintenance to your property or contents up to £200. We will endeavour to seek your approval before our maintenance team begin work. For more major work exceeding £200 we will seek permission from you first before commencing works, except in the case of an emergency and you are not contactable. We hope that this occasion will not arise but mention it for the record.
If unmanaged is chosen, the Landlord must deal with and rectify any problems the tenants may have during the tenancy and must be available at all times.
If you require possession of the property at the end of the agreed term, the tenant is entitled to a minimum of 2 calendar months’ notice. For fully managed properties we will undertake this on your behalf. For unmanaged properties, there is a charge of £40 plus VAT. Please note the correct Service of Notice is imperative to comply with strict legal requirements.
In practice, many tenants request renewal of their tenancies and most landlords are agreeable to this proposal so that continuity is ensured. For fully managed properties there is a charge of £50 plus VAT to cover the administration costs.
For unmanaged properties the charge is £75 plus VAT. Landlords and tenants of unmanaged properties should not renew the tenancy between themselves. An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding document.
Should Fitz Homes be terminated as managed agents of a property, and the original tenant introduced by the company remain in occupation after the end of a fixed term of tenancy, the Landlord will be liable to pay 5%, plus VAT, of one month’s rent for each month the tenant remains in the property.
In the event that a tenant or connected person introduced by Fitz Homes purchases the property of which they have had a tenancy during the previous twelve months then the Landlord will pay Fitz Homes 0.75%, plus VAT, of the agreed purchase price as an introductory commission. This is in addition to the letting fee.
The letting will involve you with a potential tax liability. We recommend that you discuss this subject with an accountant.
Please note that if you are to be resident outside the U.K. we are required to retain a tax reserve from gross rents unless we are permitted to waive this by prior approval of Inland Revenue.
All gas appliances need to be inspected and a certificate issued by a CORGI registered engineer prior to letting a property and this needs to be renewed annually. It is advised that your major electrical appliances should also be checked for safety, i.e. storage and panel heaters and immersion heaters, as well as the general safety of the wiring and sockets.
Furnishings such as sofas, beds, bedheads, children’s’ furniture, garden furniture suitable for use indoors, scatter cushions and pillows and stretch or loose covers for furniture must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988. They must bear a permanent label confirming fire resistance or compliance with British Standard (BS7177).
Non-compliance results in a fine up to £5000 or six months in jail for the Landlord and the Agent Many landlords now only let properties unfurnished as a result of this legislation. An electrical inspection certificate can only be issued by a qualified electrician on the safety of the wiring, sockets and fuse box.
We advise you to have smoke alarms fitted and checked regularly. The detectors should comply with BS5446 (part 1).
You will appreciate that these notes provide a general guideline. Please do not hesitate to contact us for specific information on any matters arising.