Should I let my property furnished or unfurnished?
From experience we have found that most prospective tenants are looking for unfurnished accommodation, so generally speaking this is how we would generally advise you to let your property.
Unfurnished lettings generally would include the following:
- Carpets or laminate flooring
- Vinyl or tiled flooring in bathrooms and kitchen
- Curtains or blinds
- Light fittings
- Smaller wall mounted items such as mirrors in the bathroom and cloakroom, toilet roll holders and towel rails. Door stops can also prevent damage occurring behind the doors and are recommended
If you do choose to furnish your property then you must comply with the following:
- All soft furnishings i.e. beds and upholstered chairs and sofas must comply with the Furniture and Furnished (Fire) (Safety) Regulations Act 1988. Any furniture manufactured before 1988 will generally not comply.
- All bed linen, towels and ornaments should be removed
- Only basic kitchen equipment, cutlery and tableware should be left.
- Any appliances left at the property will be your responsibility to repair or replace when necessary.
Do I need to inform my lender if I have a mortgage on the property?
If the mortgage on your property is not a "buy to let" then you must advise your lender and seek their permission before you arrange a tenancy.
If the property is leasehold, then you are required to seek the permission of the freeholder(s).
A landlord remains responsible for the insurance of the building and for any of their possessions left within the property or outbuildings. The insurance should also include personal liability insurance. Again, you are advised to contact your insurers prior to letting the property.
Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?
Landlords should note that it is a legal condition of the tenancy agreement that the landlord should keep in good repair the structure of the premises inside and out, including gutters, drains and decoration. A landlord has a responsibility also to ensure that the installations supplying gas, water, electricity are in good working order and also sanitation, hot water and heating are in good repair.
Is the tenant responsible for the garden?
Garden maintenance is usually the tenant's responsibility and most tenants are able to manage a small to medium sized garden. We would suggest however that should your property have a large garden or require specialised maintenance for example if it has a swimming pool, then you consider employing a gardener during the course of the tenancy with the cost of this being reflected in the rent.
What about safety regulations for a rented property?
The landlord must provide an annual Landlord's Gas Safety certificate, issued by a Gas Safe registered engineer. In addition, Colebrook Sturrock insist that a current Periodical Electrical Inspection certificate is held, issued by a NICEIC approved electrician, as well as any portable electrical appliances at the property having had a PAT test.
All new buildings built since June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated smoke alarms and we advise that two smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm are fitted to all properties managed by Colebrook Sturrock.
All furniture in a rented property must comply with the 1993 amendments to the Furniture and Furnishings(Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 and further details about this are in our Guide for Landlords. With effect from 1 March 1993, it became an offence to supply furniture in a rented property which does not comply with the standards contained in Regulation 14 of the 1988 Regulations.
It should be noted that furniture manufactured before 1 January 1950 is exempt from the regulations.
Items covered by the Regulations
- Furniture intended for private use in a dwelling, including children's furniture
- Beds, headboards, mattresses, sofa-beds and futons.
- Nursery Furniture
- Garden furniture which is suitable for use inside
- Cushions and seat pads and pillows
- Loose and stretch covers for furniture.
Items Exempt from the Regulations
- Bed linen, including duvets
- Loose covers for mattresses
- Furniture manufactured prior to 1950
All new furniture should be labeled to indicate compliance with the safety regulations.
Do I require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
From 1st October 2008, all rental properties with a new tenancy in both England and Wales are required to have an EPC.
Are prospective tenants referenced?
At Colebrook Sturrock we conduct the tenant referencing "in-house". We ensure that we first have photographic proof of ID for each applicant, along with proof of residency. We then obtain a credit reference, apply to employers for confirmation of employment and to Landlords or Agents for references.
Is a deposit taken?
We collect a deposit, the equivalent of 5 weeks rent. If we have been instructed by the landlord to hold the deposit, then as members of The Dispute Service, the deposit is registered with them as part of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
What sort of tenancy agreement is used?
Colebrook Sturrock uses an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST). It is usual for this to be for a term of either 6 months or 12 months.