Wilkinson Estates

A Landlords Guide to Residential Letting
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Landlord Rental Assessment

Company Objectives

At Wilkinson Estates, we aim to forge a long and lasting relationship with our client during the time that a property is let. We can only achieve this by providing them with a quality of service that is not available from other agencies.

We believe that we have created the foundations of the company on this basis and a high proportion of our new clients are referred to us from existing customers. Once the working relationship is established, our customers appreciate that we really do want the best for them and their property and, subsequently, our client base has remained extremely strong since our foundation in 1995.

A Landlords ambition when letting a property is to achieve the best rental possible for as great a proportion of the year as is feasible. Not only this but they must have the reassurance that the tenant is suitable for their property: Wilkinson's want to find the 'right' tenant for the 'right' property.

This guide has been compiled to inform Landlords, prior to letting, of the basic information they may require regarding the 'ins and outs' of the letting process. However, it will not answer all the questions you may have and, should you require any further information, no matter how basic or complex it may be, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Market Appraisal

Our initial rental appraisal of your property (or properties) and advice on the letting market is unbiased, without obligation and free of charge. We believe a Landlord should have no reservations in fully exploring the letting market and the potential of their property prior to putting their property on the market or investing in rental property.

Our estimate of the achievable rental of your property will be based on our experience and knowledge of the prevailing market conditions at the time. Generally, we believe it is better to be flexible on rental price to improve response from applicants, rather than hold out for a higher rent and have little or no response. This is particularly true when the property is available in the imminent future.

Furnished or Unfurnished?

This is a frequently asked question to which there is no right or wrong answer. Safety is now of paramount importance and as your letting agent we must ensure your soft furnishings comply to current regulations - these Regulations are explained later.

A Landlord also now enjoys the same legal protection whether the property is furnished or unfurnished. At one time properties that were furnished achieved a higher rent but in today's market the rental is likely not to be dissimilar, though it is true to say that smaller properties (studios and one/two bed apartments) generally achieve rental quicker in a furnished condition.

Unfurnished:

The property should be professionally cleaned throughout including carpets and curtains to all rooms. A property can never be too clean at commencement as this is how the tenant will have to hand back the property at termination.

The kitchen should include Cooker, Fridge/Freezer, Washing machine and Dishwasher (optional).

The remainder of the property can be entirely unfurnished with the exception of carpets, curtains/blinds and light fittings.

Furnished:

A fully furnished property should be ready for immediate occupation without the tenant providing anything but their personal belongings (with the exception of TV/video, Hi-Fi) and should include the following:

Kitchen:

  • Cooker
  • Electric Kettle
  • Fridge/Freezer
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Washing Machine/Dryer
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Dishwasher (optional)
  • Broom
  • Microwave (optional)
  • Dustpan & Brush
  • Matching Dinner Service
  • Mop & Bucket
  • Cutlery & Kitchen Utensils
  • Crockery
  • Set of Saucepans & Frying pan

Lounge:

  • Three Piece Suite
  • Coffee Table
  • Table lamps

Dining Room:

  • Dining Table with Chairs (suitable for size of property)
  • Sideboard or equivalent
  • Placemats

Bedrooms: Each bedroom should have:

  • Bed & Mattress in good condition
  • Pillows & Duvet
  • Wardrobes
  • Dressing table & stool
  • Bedside Table & Lamp
  • Mattress Covers

Bathroom:

  • Bathroom Cabinet
  • Electric Shower (optional but preferable)
  • Shower Curtain (if applicable)
  • Bath & Pedestal Mat

Garden:

  • (Should be left in a manageable, 'seasonal' order)
  • Dustbin
  • Lawn Mower
  • Gardening Tools

Garage:

  • (Should be left empty with keys)
  • Hosepipe

It is important that furnishings, fittings and décor should be of suitable quality and in keeping with the style of the property. This will make the property more appealing to prospective tenants, improve your prospects of achieving optimum rental value, avoid continual maintenance and repair of low quality items and, we find, encourages tenants to respect the property as if it were their own.

Safety Regulations

The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 & The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire)(Safety)(Amendment) Regulations 1993

Effective from March 1st 1993, Landlords letting residential property must ensure that all upholstered furniture complies with the Fire and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988. Failure to do so could result in up to 6 months imprisonment and/or fines up to £5,000.00.

The correct method of displaying compliance is to check that a permanent label is present on all items of furniture. The regulations apply to :

fire safety
  • Three piece suites, armchairs & sofas
  • Beds, headboards, mattresses, divans & bed bases
  • Sofa beds, futons & other convertible furniture
  • Nursery & children's furniture
  • Loose, stretch & fitted covers for furniture
  • Pillows, scatter cushions & seat pads
  • Garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling.

It should be noted that any furniture manufactured prior to 1st January 1950 is exempt from the regulations.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994

This regulation requires a Landlord to ensure that all gas fittings and flues are maintained in good order, and gas appliances and flues are checked for safety once in a period of 12 months. This must be done by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and the certificate issued to existing tenants and any new tenants before they move in.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

This regulation requires that any electrical appliance supplied must be safe. Where their safe use requires, appropriate instruction booklets must also be provided. Unlike the gas safety regulations, there is no statutory annual testing interval. Yet, in order to meet the requirements, it is still important that all electrical equipment be tested regularly.

Part P of the Building Regulations (introduced January 2005) require all electrical works to be performed in accordance with regulations and certain works (particularly with regard to kitchen and bathroom electrics) must be undertaken by an NICEIC approved contractor. Please ask for further details or see http://www.niceic.org.uk/

Smoke Detectors Act 1991

The Department of Environment introduced new regulations which require any new building (built after June 1992) to have smoke detectors installed. Whilst not yet a legal requirement for other properties, we feel this legislation will soon follow and Landlords can still face serious claims in the event of a fire. We would therefore strongly recommend Landlords to install smoke detectors.

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Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's)

EPC's are mandatory for all new tenancies commencing after 1 October 2008 and it will need to be available when the property is put on the market and included on the property particulars.

We can, of course, arrange the EPC for you and we would suggest having this done in the near future, whether or not the property is due for re-letting. Please enquire for costs.

Marketing Your Property

Your property will be marketed to local, national, and international businesses, Relocation Agents and private applicants. The property details will feature on our web site allowing anyone in the world to access the information.

Our offices are centrally located and widely recognised in Maidenhead town centre, and are just a few meters from the recent £90M Sainsbury's development.

We are very conscientious regarding finding quality tenants but we also recognize the importance of good applicant/tenant relations. Our company policy also differs in our approach to applicants, who tend to be given short shrift from other agents.

When a suitable tenant is found we will negotiate the terms of the tenancy (price, term, inclusions, exclusions, special clauses, break clauses, options to renew, deposits, etc, etc) and apply for references prior to drawing up the Tenancy Agreement. Needless to say, this process varies greatly in many instances so please call us to discuss any permutations and 'what-if' queries you may have.

Property details are uploaded to at least ten property portals (in addition to our own web site) for maximum exposure in the market place as well as optimum Google prominence.

Rightmove.co.uk FindaProperty.com Prime Location Google

References

References (for private and company applicants) are taken via a professional referencing and credit check company (MARAS - the Managing Agents and Referencing Advisory Service). References returned as 'Grade A' are considered as acceptable and we will discuss with you any references not issued with this rating. You will also be issued with a quotation for Rent Guarantee Insurance from the Reference Agency for extra peace of mind.

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Tenancy Agreement

The Tenancy Agreement, once signed by both parties (i.e. Landlord and Tenant), is a legally binding document and if you are in any doubt over its contents please refer to us or your solicitor. We utilise our own Tenancy Agreement except in the instance of a company tenant or Relocation Agency stipulating that their own Agreement is used. In this instance you will still be able to consult with us regarding any queries you may have.

The Agreement (for private tenancies this will usually be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement) will detail the duration of the Tenancy, rent due, rent payment dates, inclusions, exclusions, any clauses mutually agreed beforehand (such as inclusion of gardening services, break clauses etc), as well as many 'standard' clauses required for the type of Tenancy involved.

Inventories

It is in everyone's interest to have a full Inventory and Schedule of Condition report at the beginning and at the end of the tenancy, no matter whether the property is furnished or unfurnished.

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We will always employ a completely independent, professional Inventory Clerk to perform this task with aim of avoiding any disputes regarding the condition and contents of the property pre and post tenancy. The inventory is a detailed document which will highlight not just the contents of the property, but also the condition and cleanliness of a property and its contents prior to the commencement of the tenancy. It is therefore a very good idea to have the property in the best possible shape prior to letting – a tenant will only be expected maintain a property in the condition in which it is found.

First Month's Rent and Deposit/Tenancy Deposit Scheme

This will be collected by us from the Tenant prior to the commencement of the Tenancy. The deposit is the equivalent of one and a half months rent and is held in our fully bonded and audited Clients Account on behalf of the tenant. We hold the deposit as 'Stakeholders' which means that, at the end of the tenancy, agreement must be reached between Landlord and Tenant regarding the amount (if anything) to be witheld from the deposit for damages, breakages, cleaning etc. – the Inventory Check-out Report here is vital in order to give a fair and impartial account of the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy.

Any person or company wishing to receive a deposit from an assured shorthold tenant must, by law, register the deposit with one of the three approved deposit scheme administrators. We are members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme run by The Dispute Service Limited and will hold deposits, and handle disputes over deposit deductions, in accordance with their regulations (please see our Terms and Conditions for full details or www.thedisputeservice.co.uk).

Utilities

We will arrange for the transfer of utilities (except telephone) into the tenants' name, with the starting meter readings as taken by the Inventory Clerk. Please advise us of the names and addresses of the relevant companies in order for us to do this.

Insurance

Landlords should ensure that their buildings and contents are adequately insured. The tenant will be responsible for insuring their own belongings but you should maintain contents insurance of any contents you are leaving at the property.

We are able to offer information to Landlords regarding Buildings and Contents insurance cover, specifically designed for rented properties, through HomeLet. Full details are available on request or you can follow the Homelet link below.

Link: HomeLet

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Our Services

Our service can be tailored to suit your needs but the main thing for you to decide is whether or not you require the agent to manage the property during the term. Our 'Let Only' service will normally cease when the tenant has moved into the property though we still like to remain in frequent contact with our Landords and Tenants to answer any queries they may have.

The 'Managed' service is suitable for Landlords living abroad or in another part of the UK, or for those who simply don't want to be involved in the day to day management of the property (ie arranging repairs, collecting rent, arranging cleaning or other remedial work at the end of the Tenancy etc.).

Please note that there is a great difference in quality of service between different letting agencies. Wilkinsons have many years experience in this field and all our property management is undertaken from the Maidenhead office. Additionally we do not add a percentage to contractors fees, unlike most of our competitors.

Please see the commendations sheet in out Landlord Pack and our Terms and Conditions for full details, or contact us to discuss your specific requirements.

Inspections

Our management service includes quarterly inspections of the property during the tenancy. This is a general inspection and not an 'item by item' check through the inventory and also gives the tenant the opportunity to raise any queries with us. Should there be any areas for attention by the Tenant, we will advise them accordingly and make a repeat inspection.

Renewing the Tenancy

About two months prior to the end of the Tenancy we will write to the Tenant asking if they want to renew (subject to the Landlords approval). If they do we will then ask the Landlord for approval and negotiate any rent increase and supply the relevant paperwork to each party.

If the Tenant intends to vacate at the end of the term we will contact the Landlord to confirm that the property should be re-marketed for letting.

Income/Capital Gains Tax

Income from property is taxable at standard rates, though your expenses in letting the property are generally tax-deductable (these often can include mortgage interest payments, but will exclude capital expenditure, such as furniture/appliances etc.). The situation obviously varies with individuals circumstances so please consult us with any queries (or we can refer you to an accountant). It is likely that you will require the services of an accountant to assist in the declaration of your property income, especially if you are to be resident overseas.

Non-Residents

If you are to be resident overseas you must complete an Inland Revenue NRL1 form (available from us) to enable an agent collecting rent on your behalf to transfer this rent on to you without deducting tax at basic rate.

Please ask us for more information.

Capital Gains Tax

Again the position varies according to circumstances and we recommend an accountant is consulted for the correct advice.

In Conclusion

Wilkinsons Board

Letting your property, whether it be an investment property or your home, can be a successful and profitable exercise.

Wilkinson Estates want to help you achieve the most from your property and give you the best advice available. This will give you peace of mind that probably your most valuable asset is being marketed, let and (where applicable) managed to the highest standards by a friendly team dedicated to their job.

We hope to be of assistance to you in the near future.

Click Here to see a full list of our highly competitive landlord and tenant charges

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