Matters to consider before letting a property
The landlord has statutory obligations under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to repair and maintain in good working order the installations, appliances and equipment for gas, water, electricity, drainage and for heating water and space within the property.
It is our duty as Managing Agents to ensure that these obligations are fulfiled on behalf of the landlord and we must put essential repairs in hand without delay.
All owners of a property, as shown on the Land Registry, must give permission to let the property and sign the contract with Dorset Property before the property can be marketed and a tenancy can proceed.
If a property is mortgaged, the landlord must obtain the lender’s permission to let the property. The landlord must also inform Dorset Property of any conditions that the lender sets when agreeing to the let.
The landlord is responsible for insuring the buildings and the contents, other than the contents introduced by the tenant (for which the tenant is responsible for arranging insurance). The landlord should advise the insurance company that the property will be let to ensure continuity of cover and inform us of any specific conditions their insurer may impose, e.g. maximum period during which the property may be left unoccupied whilst remaining covered by insurance.
The landlord should also ensure that they have public liability cover.
Although our tenant referencing procedure is thorough, we cannot guarantee that problems will not arise. Redundancy, illness and separation are just some examples of how a change of circumstance can affect a tenant’s ability to pay rent. Other problems can occasionally arise which may result in the need to evict the tenants.
A comprehensive range of insurance products is available at competitive rates, including rent guarantee, legal protection and building and contents. Please ask for further details.
Most properties are let unfurnished as the majority of tenants own their own furniture. This is not to say that there is no demand for furnished properties. If it is more convenient for the landlord to offer the property furnished, we would recommend removing any valuable or personal items.
Inventory/schedule of condition
An inventory records the landlord’s contents in the property (furnished properties). A schedule of condition records the detailed state and cleanliness of the property.
These are the essential tools which define any loss or damage during a tenancy and provide records as evidence in the event of a dispute.
Most disputes occur at the end of the tenancy. Cleanliness (in particular kitchens, ovens and bathrooms), loss, damage and the condition of the garden are typical causes.
If a dispute cannot be settled amicably and goes to arbitration (with The Dispute Service) or to the courts, the inventory and/or schedule of condition are usually the key documents used as evidence. If a record is unclear or inadequate, an arbiter or judge is likely to rule in favour of the tenant.
Many landlords and agents are happy to rely on a scant, sketchy inventory and/or schedule of condition to save money. This is a serious misjudgment.
Dorset Property procures an accurate, comprehensive inventory/schedule of condition at the start of each tenancy. This is updated at the end of each tenancy. It will include a meticulous record of every room (noting all defects, scuffs, marks and damage) and a summary of the garden’s condition, with photographs to support the commentary where necessary.
Tenants pay for exclusive possession of a property during a tenancy and are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’, that is to live there without interference from the landlord or anyone else. The landlord cannot enter the property without the tenant’s permission or harass the tenant in any way.
Fair wear and tear
The tenant is entitled to reasonable fair wear and tear whilst occupying a property (which would include minor scuffs, marks and the odd small paint chip but not multiple paint chips, burn marks or carpet stains).
We define fair wear and tear as: ‘Evidence of day-to-day use as would be expected to occur under normal circumstances during the occupancy of a property by the number of tenants agreed to by the landlord.’
Where children and pets are permitted, additional wear and tear should be expected. The tenant is paying rent for normal usage of the property. However, the property must be left as clean, and the garden left as tidy, as they were at the start of the tenancy.
It is recommended that a maintenance contract is taken out for central heating.
The landlord is responsible for the property if it is unoccupied between tenancies. Landlords should check their insurance provision under these circumstances. During the winter it is advisable to maintain heating of the property to protect against damp and burst pipes. We are happy to check properties on behalf of landlords and make any arrangements. If this additional service is required, instructions should be provided in writing. The charge for the service is £45/hour + VAT.
Landlords are required to keep records and submit a self assessment tax return to HMRC, providing details of the rental income and any deductible expenses, including mortgage interest, letting agency fees and accountancy fees.
Any landlord residing abroad must apply to the Inland Revenue for authorisation to receive gross rental income (without tax deducted). This permits Dorset Property to pay all rent (after deduction of fees plus VAT and maintenance costs) to the landlord. In the absence of authorisation, Dorset Property are legally obliged to withhold income tax on all rent at the standard rate. Where a landlord is classed as a UK resident for tax purposes, it is not necessary for us to retain any income tax.