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10 Guithavon Street, Witham, Essex, CM8 1BN

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A LANDLORD’S GUIDE

WitLet is Witham’s most established agency Part of a family business trading in Witham since 1938, our office is based in Witham and specialises in local properties. Formed as Witham Letting Services, we have steadily grown with a high degree of customer care to both our landlords and tenants.

WitLet constantly seeks quality homes for suitably qualified tenants. We are small, friendly office who care. We fully appreciate that letting a home can be extremely stressful and we are here to help. Please do not hesitate to pick up the phone to discuss any details, which may be troubling you.

For those letting for investment we can help with any advice you require, we are well experienced and have connections in all aspects. We can help with advice from decorators to lawyers! If you want to build an investment portfolio, then we can help. If you ask us to manage your property, we use the best tradesmen in town. Most have worked with us for years. Unlike many agencies we pass their cost straight on to you with no mark up. We can provide you with insurance cover to suit your needs. Policies which cover building, contents, maintenance, rent and legal fees are all available. WITLET have a very high level of rent collected with very low void periods between tenancies.

We’ll combine our local expertise and the latest market intelligence information with the huge marketing power of the internet, to help you find the right tenant fast!

All our properties are advertised on Rightmove.co.uk, the uk’s favourite property website, attracting over 5 million visits from home movers every month, as well as all the other leading internet portals: Zoopla, Findaproperty.com and Prime Location.

We appreciate every landlord is an individual. We will always find time to talk to you.

What to do first?

You may have already decided that you wish to let your property or you may just be seeking advise – simply pick up the phone and speak to us. We will be pleased to meet you at your property to discuss your specific requirements and answer any queries you may have.

 

We can carry out a FREE rental appraisal and advise you, in our opinion, the best way to proceed. This service is provided at no cost to you and without obligation. Contact us today to arrange your FREE lettings appraisal!

Before a property can be let, there are several matters which the owner need deal with to aid the smooth running a tenancy and ensure the property complies with law. For brief detail of each subject click the link below, alternatively please contact our office for further information:

Finding a tenant
Your Property:

Insurance:

Deposit Law

Income tax

The Management Service:

Charges & Fees:

Finding a Tenant

The success of a good tenancy is carefully selecting a suitable tenant for your property.

Restrictions concerning pets, smokers, multiple occupancy etc can be incorporated. It is our job to find the tenant which best suits you and your individual property.

All prospective tenants will be accompanied to view your property. We never send prospective tenants to properties without an escort.

WitLet uses the Let Risks tenant assessment service to qualify all prospective tenants offering fast and effective comprehensive referencing; click here for more details. Some tenants may require a Guarantor, who will also be party to the agreement to ensure your protection.

Our many years of experience have enabled us to build an excellent reputation in selecting tenants for our clients, however, we never forget that it is your property and you have the final word.

Once a suitable tenant has been chosen and approved, the necessary Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements will be prepared and appropriate notices under the Housing Act will be prepared in house. We will have already asked your permission to enter into tenancy.

Your Property

Furnishing & Fire Safety Regulations

We would recommend that properties are let with carpets, curtains and a cooker only.

Should you decide to let your property furnished then as a landlord you will have to meet the current Health & Safety regulations.

The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) stipulate that items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds and futons, and much more. The regulations do not apply to bedcovers, curtains, carpets, or antique furniture (furniture made before 1950). Items of furniture or furnishings purchased since 01 March 1990 will automatically comply with the regulations, providing they have a suitable permanent label attached or the receipt kept. All non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.

A detailed explanation is available in ‘A guide to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) regulations’ from the department Trade of Industry. For details visit http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file24685.pdf

Gas Appliances

Whilst it is recommended that the occupier of any property with gas appliances connected ensures that they are regularly serviced for safety reasons, as soon as you fall into the category of ‘Landlord’ you immediately have responsibilities under the law to ensure that your gas appliances are safe and certified.

Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 stipulate that all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be serviced and safety checked within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent GAS SAFE REGISTERED engineer.

We can arrange for a suitably qualified engineer to inspect and issue a safety record on your behalf.

Prices for an annual gas safety inspection are as follows:

  • £70.00 for the first appliance;
  • £40.00 for each appliance thereafter;

A copy of the safety record issued must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being conducted.

You can instruct your own GAS SAFE REGISTERED engineer if you wish, however, if we do not hold a certificate at commencement of the tenancy, we will instruct our own engineer to carry out the safety inspection.

The penalties for any infringements of this regulation are extremely high. WitLet will not permit entry into a tenancy without holding this certificate in our office.

Smoke Alarms

All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detection alarms.

Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other tenanted properties, it is generally considered the common law ‘duty of care’ meaning that landlords could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a property where smoke alarms are not fitted. We therefore strongly recommend that the landlord fits at least one smoke detector alarm in the hallway and/or landing areas of each floor of a property

Electrical Installations & Equipment

Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs & Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994, electrical installations and equipment in tenanted premises must be safe.

This Regulation recommends that Portable Appliances are tested annually and Fixed Electrical wiring every five years.

Although (unlike gas) no safety certificate is legally required, it is necessary to make a visual check to ensure that all electrical items, plugs and leads appear completely safe and undamaged, and remove or replace any faulty items.

Domestic Energy Assessments / Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)

Landlords offering property to let from 01 October 2008 will be required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). By October 2008 all buildings, whenever they are built, sold or rented out (regardless of tenure type), will require one.

The EPC provides ‘A’ to ‘G’ ratings for the building, with ‘A’ being the most energy efficient and ‘G’ being the least, with the average to date being ‘D’. An accredited Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) will produce an EPC alongside an associated report which suggests improvements to make a building more energy efficient. Landlords are not required to carry out any of the works suggested in the report.

An EPC for rented property is valid for ten years and can be renewed at any time should a landlord carry out any works to improve the energy efficiency of the property. An Energy Performance Certificate will not be required for a renewed tenancy.

Failure to provide an EPC when required by the Regulations means that a landlord may be liable to penalty.

WitLet can arrange for a home energy assessor  to carry out all Domestic Energy Assessments. Details of pricing can be found by enquiring at WitLet.

For further information please contact our office or visit www.campaigns.direct.gov.uk/epc/

Inventory & Schedule of Condition

Prior to occupation of a tenant we will employ Powerdean Inventories, professional independent inventory clerks, to produce a full inventory and schedule of condition. This will detail the contents and condition of each room and any specific defects which exist at the commencement of the tenancy, including the condition of gardens (if applicable). On inception of the tenancy Powerdean will meet with the tenant to conduct the ‘check-in’ and provide a report which will include ingoing meter readings, a general condition of the property and document any keys given to the tenant.

We consider the inventory an important document, which is duly checked and signed by the ingoing tenant as a true record of the original condition of the property. The tenant is able to make note of any points or amendments on the inventory at the time of check-in.

It is on the basis of this document that the tenant is checked out of the property at the expiration of the tenancy. Any charges levied upon the tenancy deposit for remedial works found necessary e.g. general cleaning, gardening, missing/damaged items will be subject to this report.

Landlords wishing to provide their own inventory should ensure that it is not simply a list of contents, which could be open to misinterpretation at the end of the tenancy leading to disputes and unpleasantness.

Utility Accounts

When taking a tenancy it is the responsibility of the ingoing tenant to take over the utility services connected to the property, (unless specifically included in the rental).

These may include:

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Council Tax
  • Telephone

Immediately before any tenancy commences it will be necessary for the utility bills to be finalised and a forwarding address given to each provider for the final invoice. This can in most cases be dealt with over the telephone, providing details and final meter readings etc. This course of action will ensure that the utilities do not remain in the landlord’s name during the tenancy and ensures there is no responsibility on the landlord for services used by the tenant.

Where oil central heating exists, we recommend that either a full or and empty tank of oil is provided and detailed on the inventory. Part tanks can not be inventoried.

Tenants are required to provide proof that utility accounts have been setup for each supplier before their deposit can be released at the end of the tenancy.

Mortgage

If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain the lender’s written consent to let your property. The lender may require a draft copy of the tenancy agreement, which we will be pleased to provide, they may also require additional clauses in the agreement which we must be informed of.

Leaseholds

If you are a leaseholders, you should check the terms of your lease and obtain the necessary written consent before letting your property. WitLet will require a copy of the lease prior to entering into a tenancy; this will be passed to the tenant to ensure the lease terms are maintained.

General Condition

Electrical, gas, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must all be safe and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are the landlord’s responsibility unless tenant misuse can be proved. Interior decoration, flooring and fixtures should be in good condition, preferably plain, light and neutral.

Insurance

While letting your property we consider it essential that your building, its interior and any contents are fully insured during the term of the tenancy. For peace of mind WitLet are able to arrange a variety of insurance policies to suit every need.

WitLet is an Appointed Representative of Let Insurance Services Limited and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The company is entered on the FCA register (http://www.fca.org.uk/firms/system-reporting/register/) under reference 474985. Let Insurance Services Limited is registered to England and Wales Registration No. 06413754. The registered office is at Wessex House, Upper Market Street, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO50 9FD.

We realise how difficult it can be to arrange insurance cover for rented property. Often cover is either very restrictive or provides more cover than is normally required, premiums and policy excesses can be prohibitive. Your exiting insurance may well offer excellent terms for owner occupation, please enquire whether the policy permits letting. You will probably require a landlord’s policy.

There are many insurance policies available to landlords. We can arrange cover for

Landlords Comprehensive Cover

Landlords Buildings and/or Contents

Legal Expenses

Rent Guarantee

Emergency Assistance

Expert Tenant Referencing

Landlords’ must provide buildings insurance. A popular policy with landlords is the Let Risks’ Rent Protection insurance – this can be paid either annually or monthly – details upon request.

All policies available through this office are underwritten by a major insurance company. No charge is made to our landlords’ for arranging cover on their behalf.

Deposit Law

In April 2007 legalisation was imposed by the Government to protect tenancy deposits. All deposits taken (up to the level of £25,000) by landlords and letting agents for Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales, must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. There are three schemes available to both private landlords and letting agents – for details visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/DG_066391

WITLET are members of the The Deposit Protection Service (DPS);

The DPS is the sole Custodial scheme – the running costs of this scheme are funded entirely from the interest earned on all the deposits held by the scheme. The Custodial scheme is run by Computershare who have administered similar schemes for some years in other parts of the world, particularly Australia and New Zealand. For more information visit the website www.depositprotection.com or call the DPS Helpline on 0870 7071 707.

If you are a non-managed landlord, you can register yourself with the Deposit Protection Service who will issue you with a Landlord’s ID number. Once we are provided with your Landlord’s ID number funds can be transferred from our DPS account into your DPS account. Alternatively you may wish to be insured in order to hold deposit monies, in which case we can forward funds directly to you.

To find out more information about how this may effect you visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/index.htm.

Income Tax

Whilst you are based in the UK you will be responsible for your own tax affairs, declaring rental income and claiming relief for your expenditure (including our letting & management fees). Many of our clients have arranged an appointment with the local Tax Office and have been pleasantly surprised with the help and guidance given in minimising their tax liability from rental income.

Overseas Landlords

If you are to be a resident OUTSIDE of the UK, WitLet is liable to retain 22% of the rental income unless you receive Non-Resident Landlord Scheme notification and have an approval number from the Inland Revenue instructing us that no tax deduction is to be made.

As your managing agent we would be responsible for declaration to the Inland Revenue unless you claim non-resident landlords’ exemption (which you will be required to arrange with the Inland Revenue). Further details concerning the Non-Resident Landlord Scheme can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/cnr/nr_landlords.htm

Details of NRL approval is available in our office. Alternatively you can complete a NRL 1 form available from Inland Revenue or click http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/cnr/nrl1.pdf

The Management Service

Many landlords like to detach themselves from the day to day stresses of managing their own properties. Once the tenancy has commenced and you’ve chosen to take advantage of WITLET’s full management service (our full management service is usually essential for landlords leaving the area or going abroad) the following will be provided:

Rent will be collected from your tenant. You will receive a monthly invoice showing the rent received and any agreed deductions made (e.g. management fees, repairs etc.) along with the balance of the rent.

Throughout the tenancy, the property will be regularly inspected (approximately every three months) to ensure that the tenant is maintaining the house/flat, contents and garden to a high standard.

WITLET’s management package is comprehensive and inclusive; there are no extra surprise costs at the end of the tenancy. We will attend to check out the inventory, receive the keys and instigate and supervise any final cleaning, gardening, etc. as necessary. We will ensure that the property is ready for re-letting or handing back to you if you are re-occupying.

Our management fee is currently 10 % of the monthly rental + VAT. For landlords with more than one property we are able to offer special rates and will be pleased to discuss your particular requirements.

Repairs and Maintenance

Included in our management service is supervision and organisation of any approved repairs and maintenance to your property. Most of our contractors have worked with us for many years.

As soon as a fault occurs and the tenant contacts our office, we will seek your instructions before arranging estimates for the work to be done.

You may have specific contractors that you wish to use for your property, then you will simply need to advise us of your chosen plumber, heating engineer, electrician, builder, etc. Alternatively we are able to recommend suitable contractors to you, if required, who regularly undertake work on behalf of our clients and consequently do so at reasonable cost.

Re-Letting and Tenancy Renewals

Towards the end of any tenancy term we will contact you to establish whether you wish to re-let your property for a further period.

If instructed to re-let we will enquire with the existing tenant whether they would like to re-new for a further period and if so produce the new tenancy documentation and statutory notices (if requested) for the new agreed term.

If your existing tenant is moving, then the property will be re-advertised and in most cases a new tenant will be found to take occupation from the end of the previous tenancy and ideally keeping the property permanently occupied, preserving your rental income.

At each tenancy renewal or re-let, the rental value will be reassessed and increased if appropriate.

The procedures for new tenancies are followed as for an initial letting, however, re-letting and tenancy renewal costs are at a reduced rate, as shown on the charges section.

Ceasing a Tenancy

At the end of each tenancy a member of staff will attend the property to receive the keys, check the inventory and schedule of condition and make arrangements to finalise the tenancy in readiness for any new tenancy, or hand the property back if you are intending to re-occupy.

In the event that there is any final cleaning, gardening, repairs or missing items to be replaced, then our staff will arrange appropriate estimates and supervise any remedial works, the cost of which will be charged to the outgoing tenants.

If you decide to undertake your own rent collection and management, then it will be your responsibility to check the property at the end of the tenancy, and instruct us accordingly to release any deposit monies. We will still be pleased to provide the tenant check out service on unmanaged properties if you prefer. The cost of this service is quoted on the basis of size of the property.

Charges & Fees

Full Letting Service Fee’s

Initial Let – £375.00 + VAT

10% of a calendar month’s rent + VAT each month thereafter

- Please ask about discounts for multiple properties, sole agency, etc. We may also be offering special offers

at the time of your instruction (sole agency may be required).

Re-Let fee (for new tenants) – £195.00 + VAT

Renewal fee (for existing tenants) – £85.00 inclusive of VAT

Non-managed Service Fee’s (Tenant Introduction Only)

Initial Let – One months rent + VAT

Re-Let fee (for new tenants) – One months rent + VAT

Renewal fee (for existing tenants) – £85.00 inclusive of VAT

Finalising the Tenancy

Checking the tenant out of the property and finalising the tenancy are included in our management charge. Checking tenants out of unmanaged properties are quoted individually based on the size of the property and location. Please ask for a free quotation.

We aim to provide a friendly flexible service. If the service you require is not detailed in our introduction, or you require any extended services, please do not hesitate to ask. We will try to accommodate your specific requirements.

Further details can be found in our information booklet and our landlords authorisation form . Alternatively please contact our office.