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BEFORE YOU LET
There are a number of issues to be dealt with before you let and on which we can advise or assist.
Should you let furnished or unfurnished? There is a considerably stronger market for unfurnished property, usually retaining carpets, curtains/blinds and major kitchen appliances, whilst only a limited demand for fully furnished property. Our advice must therefore be to recommend offering your property unfurnished or, if you would prefer to let your property furnished, be prepared to remove/store furnishings. For that reason there is only limited availability of furnished accommodation, so if you really need to let furnished, you can, though we will be working in a niche market.
As you might expect, it is generally the case that a well presented property (with a reasonable level of modern furniture and equipment) will let more readily than a property which looks tired, or where furniture is in poor condition or is dated. It is therefore worth improving the condition and appearance of the property, and disposing of dated furnishings wherever possible, particularly where letting an investment property. Televisions, audio equipment, coffee makers, mixers and the like need not usually be provided. If they are, any repair charges will fall to the landlord.
A good shower facility is certainly favoured by the majority of tenants. You should consider such an installation, if not already provided, and to avoid associated condensation problems in the bathroom, you should also consider the installation of an extractor fan.
In any event, it is essential to comply with fire safety regulations, as noted below. We would be pleased to advise you on this issue.
The law requires that where letting a property, soft furnishings must comply with fire safety regulations. These apply to beds, sofa suites and other upholstered furniture, but not carpets and curtains. Essentially, furniture manufactured since 1989 must comply with the regulations. They will have a notice attached confirming compliance (with BS7177 in the case of beds), unless these have been removed. Furniture manufactured before 1950 is exempt, whilst furniture manufactured between 1950 and 1988 should be assumed not to comply and should be removed prior to letting.
Smoke detectors are not legally required, but are to be recommended.
Gas & Electrical Safety
The law requires that where letting a property with any gas installation, a Landlord’s Gas Safety Check MUST be carried out by a Corgi registered engineer prior to commencement of tenancy and annually thereafter and that any defects are rectified. A record of that check must also be made available to the tenant. This we can arrange on your behalf prior to commencement of the first tenancy. We will also arrange subsequent annual checks for management clients and send out a reminder to other clients in good time for them to make the necessary arrangements. Carbon monoxide detectors are not a legal requirement, but are to be recommended.
The law also requires that where a property is let, all electrical installations and appliances are in a safe condition. Whilst there is not yet any statutory requirement for regular electrical safety tests, in order to ensure compliance with the law, we must recommend that an electrical safety test is carried out prior to commencement of tenancy, any defects rectified and a report supplied.
When letting a property it is your legal obligation to declare your rental income to the Inland Revenue, by way of an annual self assessment tax return. The majority of expenses incurred in connection with letting the property can be offset against tax. When resident abroad, you may also be able to offset your personal allowances against rental income.
If you are going abroad, we as your rent collecting agent are obliged to deduct from rental income basic rate tax and pay this to the Inland Revenue quarterly. To avoid the need to do so, enabling you to pay only your true liability after allowances once calculated at the end of each tax year, you simply need to complete and forward to the Inland Revenue their form NRL1, copies of which we can provide, or be downloaded from http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/cnr/nrl1.pdf. They will notify us that we may pay you without deduction. Please note that each joint owner of a property going abroad will need to apply individually.
If a landlord abroad did not use a UK agent to collect rent, the tenant would have to assume the responsibility to deduct tax from the rent and pay the Inland Revenue, unless they receive notification from the Inland Revenue that they may pay rent without deduction of tax.
Mortgage, Insurance & Freeholder/Block Management Authority to Let
You will need to notify your mortgage lender, building and contents insurers and, where applicable, your freeholder or block managing agent that you will be letting the property and seek their agreement to do so.
You may find that mortgage or insurance rates are increased, or that the level of insurance cover is restricted. We offer specialist mortgage and insurance products at competitive rates and would be pleased to obtain quotes for you.
If there are any conditions of your lease or restrictive covenants to which your tenants will need to adhere, please let us have these in writing.
You should also ensure that your freeholder or managing agent knows where to send service charge invoice, and ideally arrange for payment by direct debit.