Before Marketing the Property
For some years now the vast majority of tenants in this area have wanted to rent their home unfurnished. This may be because they already have all their own household furnishings or because they want to create a home which is truly their own.
If you do decide to offer your property as a furnished let, you must ensure that the contents meet the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988. You should also allow a little more time to find a tenant as market demand is likely to be less.
This is a personal choice for landlords to make. If you do not want to have pets in your house we will make this clear to tenants from the outset and include a clause to this effect in the Agreement. If however you would like to consider animals you would certainly be extending your potential market. In this event we would discuss each application with you so that you can decide. Where a pet is allowed we stipulate in your contract that the tenant must be responsible for any damage caused as a result, professional cleaning of carpets etc.
An Energy Performance Certificate is prepared by a qualified assessor and is required before your property can be offered on the open market. The certificate will award a rating to your property so that your prospective tenant can gauge probable energy costs. From April 2018 it will be unlawful to let residential properties with an EPC rating of F or G and in these cases an upgrade would be needed in order for the property to comply.
Our policy at Harker & Bullman is to advise you of what we believe to be the best achievable rent for your property and this helps to let it quickly. In the vast majority of cases we are able to find good tenants within a very short time – we have been known to let properties the same day they have come to the market! Some locations are more challenging and some periods are busier than others, but generally we pride ourselves on arranging tenancies with the minimum of delay at the asking rent.
As soon as we know that a tenant is not renewing their tenancy we aim to put the property back onto the market so that viewings can be conducted while the property is still occupied. In this way any void period is minimised.
There is no minimum term for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). However, whatever the length of the contract term, a Landlord cannot legally demand the return of his property before the end of 6 months. For this reason we usually recommend that ASTs should be for at least 6 months.
The Immigration Act 2014 requires landlords and their agents to check all tenants before they are allowed to take up a tenancy, to ensure that they are legally entitled to live in the UK and to rent a property. Fines for non-compliance are unlimited. Harker & Bullman will automatically carry out these checks on your behalf as part of the referencing process.
Harker & Bullman will prepare the agreement using the terms negotiated between the parties and incorporating any special clauses that may be required for your property. They will also ensure that all documentation required by law is served upon the tenant and properly signed before the let begins. This is very important, as failure to do so can affect a Landlords’ rights.
The law now states clearly what documentation must be given to the tenant before they move into the property (e.g. EPC, How to Rent, Deposit Registration Certificate). Failure to deal correctly with this process could jeopardise the landlord’s position later in the tenancy by making it more difficult and costly to regain possession of his property.
Deposits, Inventories and the ‘Check-Out’
Yes, we always take a deposit equivalent to 6 weeks rent. This is will be held until the end of the tenancy and will only be released once our Property Manager is satisfied that the property has been left in an acceptable condition and all rent due has been paid.
Yes, by law it must be lodged in a Government approved scheme such as The Dispute Service (TDS). Harker & Bullman will be responsible for registering any deposits they hold with TDS. The tenant will receive a Certificate officially confirming this.
NB. It is very important that this legal process is performed correctly, otherwise the Landlord may find he is unable to give Notice to his tenant to quit the premises.
The deposit is held against any damage that may occur during the tenancy but in order to accurately measure this we must have a detailed description of the property whether furnished or unfurnished. Our Schedules include photographs and we ask the tenant to agree the details by signing each page. In this way it can be fairly decided at the end of the tenancy whether any monies should be deducted from the deposit.
Where a property is Fully Managed by Harker & Bullman, our designated Property Manager will conduct a full inspection at the end of the tenancy against the detailed Schedule of Condition which was prepared and agreed at the start. If there is any damage, the tenant will be informed and the Property Manager will do their utmost to reach agreement on the charges to be deducted from the deposit. In the event that these cannot be agreed, a report must be prepared and sent to The Dispute Service (TDS) along with all necessary supporting documentation. The tenant is invited to make his case and the TDS will adjudicate and apportion the deposit according to their findings.
Thanks to our detailed Schedules of Condition and the expertise of our Property Managers, it is very rare that Harker & Bullman are unable to resolve a dispute in house.
During the tenancy
The tenant, unless otherwise stated (for example in the case of an annexe with shared supply). Where a property is managed by Harker & Bullman, we will undertake to read the meters and to advise the utility companies and local authority of the tenant’s details and move in/out date.
The landlord is entirely responsible for insuring the building and any contents remaining in it. The tenant should insure his own goods and personal items.
Whether we are managing the property for you or you are doing this yourself, the Tenancy Agreement will make provision for regular visits from the landlord or his agent. Harker & Bullman Property Managers will visit a managed property after 2 months and then every 4 months and will send a report to the landlord each time. We find that this gives real peace of mind to Landlords and builds positive relationships with tenants.
The Tenancy Agreement should contain a clause to make this clear but usually the tenant must return the garden at the end of the tenancy in the same state as it was at the beginning. However where there are trees or very high hedges, these would be for the landlord to maintain.
If your garden has specimen plants or requires high maintenance it may be advisable to build the cost of a gardener into the rent.
Yes. A tenant is entitled to the repair of any equipment or fitting that is included in the let property and fails through normal wear. This would not include any breakages or damage caused by the tenant. A landlord should also expect to redecorate from time to time and to replace items such as floor coverings when eventually they reach the end of their life through fair wear and tear.
It is also in a Landlord’s best interest to keep his property well maintained in order to achieve the market rent.
If we have agreed to collect the rent for you, our systems will flag up at once if your tenant has not paid. Within a few days he/she will be contacted to request immediate payment. If this is still not forthcoming we will continue to pursue the tenant or (where applicable) their guarantor. It is very unusual for a tenant whose references have been properly checked to default but if it happens we will discuss the circumstances with you and serve any legal documentation that may be required.
Yes, this cover, together with Legal Protection, is available through Harker & Bullman at very reasonable rates. Please call us to discuss your particular requirements.
As a Landlord you have the right to review your rent at the end of a contract or once a year if the Tenancy is a rolling one. Either way we will advise on current market value and negotiate with your tenant to achieve the best results. Sometimes Landlords prefer not to increase to the full market rent to encourage a good and reliable tenant to remain in place.
About the Agent
Sadly the media carries stories from time to time of agents who have disappeared with funds belonging to landlords and tenants. This is especially worrying for landlords as they can become responsible for returning the deposit to the tenant, even though it may never been in their hands. However, agents like Harker & Bullman who are regulated by ARLA Propertymark will automatically have Client Money Protection and the ARLA insurance scheme will cover any missing funds.
No. If you have signed up for our Full Management service we will arrange for any repairs to be carried out by a suitably qualified contractor and we will settle his invoice from rent collected. The amount you pay is the amount charged by the contractor and nothing is payable to Harker & Bullman.
No. Our schedule of fees clearly sets out what we will charge and when. Our attitude to “Full Management” is just that and we will not seek to charge you for every little extra task we do.