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Landlords

Are you frustrated with your current agent? Or are you a new landlord looking to let out your property and need some free, no obligation advice? Make your choice, First Choice, with over 20 years of experience in the lettings industry we know what works, so you can sit back and relaxing knowing your property is in safe hands. Call today quoting ‘WEB13’ for 20% off our usual fees.

GENERAL GUIDANCE ON LETTING YOUR PROPERTY

WHAT IS AN ASSURED SHORTHOLD TENANCY?

Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £100,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 or 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if the tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property he can apply through the court to seek a possession order.

PREPARING THE PROPERTY

We have found that a good relationship with Tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers this relationship is our job, but it is important that the Tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. It follows therefore that a well presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this, whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Tenants are also more inclined to treat such a property with greater respect.

GENERAL CONDITION

Electrical, gas plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the Landlords expense unless misuse can be established. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral.

FURNISHINGS

Your property can be let fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished. Which of these is appropriate will depend on the type of property and local market conditions. We will be pleased to give you advice on whether to furnish or not and to what level. As a minimum you will need to provide decent quality carpets/flooring, curtains/blinds and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided.

PERSONAL ITEMS, ORNAMENTS ETC.

Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc. should be removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the attic at the owner's risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the Tenant's own use.

GARDENS

Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. However, few Tenants are experienced gardeners, and if you value your garden, or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange visits by our regular gardener.

CLEANING

At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the Tenants' responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense.

MORTGAGE

If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee's written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the tenancy agreement of which you must inform us.

LEASEHOLDS

If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain any necessary written consent before letting.

INSURANCE

You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies. We can advise on Landlords Legal Protection, Rent Guarantee Cover and Landlords Contents and Buildings Insurance if required.

TAXATION

Income Tax is payable on UK lettings irrespective of where the landlord resides. However through careful planning and assistance you should be able to avoid paying some, or even all, of this tax. Non-declaration of letting income receives increasingly harsh treatment from the Inland Revenue. We therefore advise that you employ an accountant to minimise or eliminate your tax. Provision for setting expenses against your income include, but are not limited to, the following;

  • Mortgage / Loan for the purchase of the property
  • Ground rent on leasehold properties
  • Buildings Insurance
  • Contents Insurance
  • Repairs
  • Annual Safety Checks
  • Legal Costs
  • Accountancy Costs
  • Letting Agents Fees
  • Wear and Tear of contents


Non-resident Landlords

Most property income of non-residents is subject to UK tax. The Finance Act 1995 allows overseas landlords to apply to self-assess and on approval First Choice are issued with an "exemption certificate" (NRL8) which authorises us to pay rent without the deduction of tax. However where no "exemption certificate" is available we have a statutory obligation to implement a tax deduction before remitting the rents. First Choice will supply the application form and provided the applicant's tax affairs are in order the Inland Revenue may issue a certificate. It is important that we are advised if your tax affairs, in respect of the letting of the property, are handled by you, your accountant or First Choice. Further Information is available from; Financial Intermediaries and Claims Office (Non residents), St. John's House, Merton Road, Bootle, Merseyside L69 9BB, England or by telephone on +44 (0)151 472 6208 / +44 (0)151 472 6209 or facsimile +44 (0)151 472 6067.

Miras

Contrary to popular belief it may be beneficial for you as a landlord to withdraw the let property from the MIRAS scheme. A taxpayer who withdraws from MIRAS usually continues to obtain tax relief, albeit not at source. Your accountant, should you instruct one, will be able to advise you whether withdrawal is advantageous to you.

BILLS AND REGULAR OUTGOINGS

We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. service charges, maintenance contracts etc. to be paid by standing order or direct debit. However, where we are managing the property, by prior written agreement we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit.

KEYS

You should provide one set of keys for each Tenant. Where we will be managing we can arrange to have duplicates cut as required.

INFORMATION FOR THE TENANT

It is helpful if you leave information for the Tenant, e.g. on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc. For our managed service, we will give the tenant an information pack containing these details.

SAFETY REGULATIONS & LETTINGS LEGISLATION

GAS SAFETY REGULATIONS

It is a legal requirement that all gas appliances and systems are inspected on an annual basis. A Gas Safety Certificate must be obtained to cover the safety of the pipe work, the boiler, the cooker and any other gas appliances in the property. This certificate has to be issued by a CORGI registered gas fitter. Any repairs that are required on gas appliances, pipe work or fittings in a property have to be repaired on a 'forthwith' basis. Therefore we would send a CORGI registered gas fitter whether or not the Landlord is contactable. We will arrange for a gas safety certificate to be issued on an annual basis and a competitive cost to yourself. Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1994 and subsequent amendments.

ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATES (EPC’s)

From 1st October 2008, all rental properties with a new tenancy agreement will now, by legal requirement, need an EPC certificate, this is the responsibility of the landlord and failing to comply may result in a fine. The certificates (EPCs) will have to be provided before the property is marketed. We have a database of registered energy assessors, and we will be pleased to arrange an EPC inspection and assessment on your property upon request.

HMO (HOUSE OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION)

Any property that has three or more unrelated tenants or students/sharers on the agreement is classed as a HMO and is subject to licensing and strict guidelines & regulations. We can assist and ensure your property is compliant, simply get in touch to arrange a consultation appointment.

ELECTRIC SAFETY REGULATIONS

It is a legal requirement that all electrical appliances and systems are checked for the safety of your tenant. Any itemS left in the property, by the Landlord, that has a plug on it must be checked and repaired or replaced if found to be faulty. (Electrical Equipment Regulations 1989). Many Landlords may not be aware of the above regulations or may even choose to ignore them, First Choice provide a professional service which includes supplying landlords with accurate and up to date legislation. If you have any queries about the legal aspect of letting a property, you may ring or make an appointment with our property management department. Advise is also available from your Solicitor and the Citizen's Advice Bureaux. Chelmsford Council also offer limited assistance and information.

FIRE REGULATIONS & SMOKE ALARMS

The Building Regulations 1991 requires that all properties built since June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated interlinked smoke detectors/alarms on each floor. Such regulations regarding older properties do not exist at the present time but we strongly recommend that smoke alarms are fitted in all let properties and are regularly checked to ensure they are in full working order. The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.

FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS

Any furniture in the property whilst let must be up to the required standards of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations. This applies to beds, bed heads, children's furniture, mattresses, sofas, chairs, cushions, stretch or loose covers for furniture, pillows, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling and three pieces suites. All must bear a BS7177, 1989 certificate of fire safety. Any items that do not comply must be removed from the property. There are high fines for non-compliance. The regulations do not apply to curtains, carpets, bedclothes (including duvets) and mattress covers. This information is a summary of the implications of the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire)(Safety)(Amendment) Regulations 1993 and should be read in conjunction with the official guide from the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) a copy of which is available for your perusal at our Chelmsford office

THE HOUSING HEALTH AND SAFETY RATING SYSTEM (HHSRS)

The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities.

THE DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 2005

The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled people's rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let, and common hold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Under the new duties, provided certain conditions are met (for example, that a request has been made), landlords and managers of premises which are to let, or of premises which have already been let, must make reasonable adjustments, and a failure to do so will be unlawful unless it can be justified under the Act. Landlords will only have to make reasonable adjustments. And they will not have to remove or alter physical features of the premises.

INVENTORY

A detailed inventory of the contents of the property will be taken to protect your interests, even if the property is minimally furnished or unfurnished. All personal items should be removed from the property prior to letting. This includes items of sentimental value such as ornaments and pictures. We recommend you also check your insurance cover too. First Choice are able to offer insurance especially tailored for leased properties. Please click on "Insurance" in the menu for further information.

TENANCY DEPOSIT PROTECTION

Since 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords and letting agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme is supported by an alternative dispute resolution service. We are currently a member of MY DEPOSIT Scheme where all deposits are registered.

DISCLAIMER: Whilst we strive to ensure properties are in accordance with the above, it’s the landlord’s legal responsibility to ensure compliance. We cannot accept liability for the landlord’s breach of the above regulations. The above information is written as a general outline and is subject to changes in legislation.
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