Landlord Services - Guide to Letting Property

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Establishing a Letting Strategy

Whether you have decided to rent out a home you already own, or have purchased a property especially for rental purposes, you will need to plan your approach. You should first consider which type of tenant to target. Think about where your rental property is located and the type of person that would most likely want to rent in this area.

Once you've decided which type of tenant you want to attract, you should consider tailoring the property in a way that might appeal to them. However, it is important to remember to keep your property flexible and decoration neutral to prevent alienating other types of individual who may be thinking of renting in your area.


Think about

  • How you will present the accommodation.
  • How you will let it - as a single unit or to multiple tenants.
  • The cost of running your rental property and the rent you will charge.
  • Whether you will manage the marketing and maintenance yourself or through a lettings agent.
  • The answers to these questions will help you formulate a basic strategy for your rental property.

Important Considerations

Before you can market your property for rental purposes, you will need to do the following:

  • Obtain specialist landlord insurance. You will not be covered by regular household insurance.
  • Consider your mortgage. If you are thinking about letting a property you will need to inform the current mortgage lender that tenants will be living in the property. In most instances you will be required to switch to a buy-to-let mortgage.

Appointing a Professional Letting Agent: Rea Esates Lettings & Management

The amount of commitment and work involved in letting property should never be underestimated. The majority of landlords choose to use a professional letting agent to help with the many and varied responsibilities that come with owning a property lived in by others.

Rea Estates Lettings & Management takes away the stress and strain of finding a tenant, negotiating rent, carrying out property inspections, and dealing with ongoing maintenance requirements.

Preparing your Property to Let

Before you let any property it is vital that you present it in the most attractive way possible. You should carefully maintain its condition for each viewing.


Internally

  • Clean the property thoroughly and ensure it smells fresh.
  • Repair leaky taps or cracks in the walls.
  • Decorate rooms in a neutral colour.
  • Make sure the property is clean after a previous tenant has moved out.
  • Complete any repairs
  • Ensure all safety certificates are up to date.

Externally

  • Ensure gardens are neat and tidy - mow the lawn and weed the flowerbeds.
  • Give window frames and doors a lick of paint.
  • Ensure rubbish bins are not visible.

Cost of Letting your Property

Letting property can be a sound investment but you should be prepared to incur costs throughout the tenancy. Remember, even when your property isn't occupied, you will still need to pay the mortgage and rates.


The following costs should be considered:

  • Refurbishment costs.
  • Safety inspection costs.
  • Energy Performance Certificate.
  • Monthly mortgage repayment (if you have one).
  • Ground rent and service charges if you are letting a leasehold property.
  • Income tax.
  • Letting agent and management fees.
  • Maintenance costs.
  • Professional fees

Legal Responsibilities

The law requires landlords to maintain their property and undertake any major repairs that are required.

In addition, there are special rules that apply:


Energy Assessments

Landlords who are letting or re-letting their property for the first time are now required to present an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to tenants. Rea Estates can organise the provision of an EPC.


Gas Safety

All residential landlords are required to ensure that gas appliances and flues are safe. This regulation is intended to avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. All rental properties must have the following:

  • A valid gas safety certificate from an approved gas engineer.
  • Approved appliances and pipework. Gas Safe Register is responsible for the registration of gas engineers.
  • An annual gas safety check. Tenants must be provided with an appropriate gas safety record and the landlord must keep gas safety records for a minimum of two years.
  • Rea Estates also recommends that carbon monoxide detectors are installed in properties that have gas installations. This is a small price to pay for extra peace of mind.

Furniture and Furnishings

All furniture provided in a rental property must meet safety standards.

All soft furniture items must have a permanent label clearly stating that they are fire resistant.

Furniture manufactured after 1989 should comply with these regulations and will generally have a label showing compliance.


Electrical Equipment Safety

All electrical equipment supplied in a rental property must be safe to use.

Unlike gas appliances, there is no legal requirement to have an annual safety check. It is sensible to have appliances checked by an electrician, however.

Each item should be labelled to prove it has been tested and the date of testing written on the label.

Operating and safety instructions for all electrical equipment should be provided for tenants.


Smoke Detectors

Properties built after June 1992 must have mains-operated smoke detectors fitted on each floor.

Although there is no current legislation requiring a smoke detector to be fitted in ordinary tenanted properties, doing so is generally considered the common law "duty of care," which means that the landlord could be held liable should a fire cause injury where no smoke detectors are fitted. It is strongly recommended that landlords fit one smoke alarm on each floor of the building.


Certificate of fitness

Any property built before 1 January 1945 (please note this date relates to the date of construction of the building and not the date of any subsequent conversion, for example, into apartments) will require a fitness inspection by the local council prior to obtaining a tenancy. Where required we will liaise with the Environmental Health Department of the local council and arrange necessary inspections. Further information is available at www.rentofficer-ni.gov.uk.

Landlord Obligations

  • Confirm that you are the legal owner of the property and have permission to let the property.
  • Furnish us with evidence of identification and address in compliance with Money Laundering Regulations.
  • Notify Rea Estates immediately of any changes in the ownership of the property prior to letting.
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