Landlords Guide 2018-08-30T09:12:42+00:00

Landlord’s Guide

M & M have developed a reputation over the last 30 years of letting and managing homes in Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding area as honest, reliable and professional.

We work to the highest industry standards, and are a company proven to achieve results. We have dedicated maintenance, contracts and accounts departments, ensuring that all aspects of your let are dealt with promptly and efficiently. In a time before the internet, social media and large corporate property portals, M&M built its foundations on word of mouth and recommendation. Both Michael Smith and Steven Root are fully licensed ARLA agents (Association of residential lettings agents) operating from our town centre Leighton Buzzard office. If you combine this with the exposure that all rental homes are given to the market and the way in which each tenancy is carefully and expertly executed within our showroom you have a truly unequalled service in the Leighton Buzzard market

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ARLA Licensed Agent

The Association of residential Letting Agents ( ARLA) is committed to providing the highest standards of letting and management services through its licensed agents. Being licensed ensures your agent is following best practice. They provide you with consumer protection and ensure the service provided is of the highest standard within the industry.

How you are better protected with a licensed agent?

A Licensed ARLA agent is qualified and is required to keep up to date with the latest developments in the market, and with the ever changing legislation affecting letting and property management.

Without this knowledge and expertise, whether you are a tenant or a Landlord, you may be badly advised or misled – or you may even suffer financial loss as a result.

By choosing a Licensed ARLA agent you are protecting your money because it is covered by a Client Money Protection Scheme. A Licensed ARLA firm will also have professional Indemnity Insurance in place for your protection.

A licensed firm abides by a code of practice as well as rule of conduct. This means you can be assured that the service you receive is to the highest standard, and your enquiry will be dealt with professionally and fairly.

In the unlikely event that things go wrong, a licensed ARLA firm has a written complaints procedure and is a member of the Ombudsman for Lettings.

Marketing

At M & M Properties we utilise much of the technology that exists in today’s society to ensure that a property lets promptly.  M & M have extensive marketing on major property portals including bespoke premium products on www.rightmove.co.uk, and advertising here at www.mandmproperties.co.uk. M & M have also been regular advertisers in the Leighton Buzzard press for the last 30 years ensuring that your property is always seen.

We believe that with all the above in action we have the virtual and media world covered for our clients, however, we must not forget the importance and prominence of our office, and the value of face to face contact with Landlords and  tenants. M & M have the largest showroom in Leighton Buzzard, displaying properties on both LED pocket displays and four state of the art flat screens rolling properties all day, every day, 24/7.  On the streets our prominent To Let boards are easily recognisable and ensure your property stands out from the crowd.

Letting process

At M & M our service is bespoke to each and every client and our work begins from the very first time we communicate with you, in fact that might be now! We have utmost pride in ensuring that we tell you the whole story all of the time, and that the success of every property and tenancy is totally in parallel with our own success and progression. If our client’s experience is positive and successful then we have built another trusting and long lasting relationship. M & M have established themselves as the market leader in Leighton Buzzard by identifying our client’s individual needs, treating them with respect and working together, and on their behalf, to achieve a specific property goal. In return for our dedication our clients have come back to us again and again, and have helped us to continue with our progression.

Our Services

M & M Properties offer three levels of service, which are as follows;

Full ManagementRent CollectionTenant Finding Service
Tenant Referencing •
Preparation & Execution of Tenancy Agreements
Arrange optional rent protection policy
Organise gas safety certificates & EPC 
Prepare Inventory & Schedule or condition 
Provide Monthly statements of rent
Collection of rent
Transfer of Utilities 
Arrange Repairs & Maintenance
Managing the check IN & OUT Process
Advising on deposit deductions 

Full Management

  • Service charge per month will be determined by how many properties you have to let, the fee will be between 8% and 12% plus vat.
  • Marketing fee  £120.00
  • Preparation of tenancy agreement and Inventory and schedule of condition  £270.00

Renewal of tenancy

Renegotiation of new contract and execution of tenancy agreement in line with The Housing Act 1988  £150.00

Renewal of tenancy to new tenant

Remarketing of property, securing and referencing of tenant, check-out of outgoing tenant, updating inventory, preparation and execution of tenancy agreement in line with Housing Act 1988, transfer of services  £270.00

Rent collection only

  • Service charge per month 8% plus vat
  • Marketing fee  £120.00
  • Preparation of tenancy agreement and Inventory and schedule of condition  £270.00

Renewal of tenancy

Renegotiation of new contract and execution of tenancy agreement in line with The Housing Act 1988  £60.00

Renewal of tenancy to new tenant

Remarketing of property, securing and referencing of tenant, check-out of outgoing tenant, updating inventory, preparation and execution of tenancy agreement in line with Housing Act 1988  £150.00

Service charge fee example for managed and rent collection

Assuming the Service charge is 12% plus vat and a monthly rental of £750.00. 12% of £750.00 = £90.00 plus vat at 20% = £18.00, total fee due inclusive of VAT = £108.00.

Tenant find only service

  • 10 % plus vat of the first six months rent or £540.00 (whichever is the greater)
  • 5% plus vat of each subsequent six months’ rent payable under a renewed tenancy
  • Preparation of tenancy agreement  £150.00
  • Preparation of inventory and schedule of condition  £240.00

Fee example for tenant find only

  • Assuming the property is let at £750.00pcm. 6 x £750.00 = £4,500.00 x 10% = £450.00 plus vat at 20% -£90.00, total fee inclusive of VAT = £540.00
  • Ongoing 5% plus vat for every six months.  Assuming the property is let at £750.00pcm. 6 x £750.00 = £4,500.00 x 5% = £225.00 plus vat at 20%-£45.00, total inclusive of VAT = £270.00.

Additional Fees

Applying to the courts for an accelerated possession order £180.00

Issuing a section 8 notice £120.00

Attending court £144.00

All fees apart from the service charge are inclusive of VAT at the current rate of 20%.

M & M Properties are members of the Ombudsman for Lettings and provide client money protection insurance.

Fee’s published in line with the Consumer Rights act 27th May 2015.

Assessment of rent

The level of rent, which can be achieved on a property, will be determined by the current level of demand for rental accommodation in your area. A prospective tenant will also consider the location of the property, the quality of furnishings/fixtures that are being left and its general condition. One of our Property Managers will visit your property and evaluate its rental value based on these things. It is normal that furnished/unfurnished properties are let at a rental inclusive of buildings insurance, and in case of leasehold properties, ground rents/service charges. The tenant is responsible for council tax, water rates, gas, electricity and telephone.

 

References

As our Property Manager will point out to you every possible precaution is taken to ensure the tenant placed in your property will provide a trouble free tenancy. A prospective tenant will be interviewed by one of our property managers, and if deemed suitable for a tenancy, M & M Properties employ the services of a professional company specialising in the vetting of tenants for residential property. If a tenant wishes to proceed with a property they will be charged an administration fee, and complete the appropriate application form, providing information including employment details, salary and where they have resided for the last three years. Once all checks have been carried out we will make our recommendations for the tenancy to be formally granted, or the property placed back on the market, depending on the findings of the outside reference company.

 

Inventory and schedule of condition

A detailed inventory and schedule condition will be drawn up prior to the first tenant moving in. It is important to maintain a certain standard expected by landlord and tenant, and therefore it may be necessary for us to instruct gardeners and cleaners prior to the commencement of the tenancy. This would be carried out after obtaining the appropriate instructions from the landlord, and charged at the cost agreed. The detailed inventory will be updated and methodically checked before each tenancy commences. This document will form part of any claim for dilapidation against future deposits.

 

Furnished or unfurnished

There is now more demand for unfurnished than furnished property. When leaving the property unfurnished you are required to leave carpets, curtains and lampshades throughout, and we advise leaving three main kitchen appliances i.e. Cooker, fridge and washing machine although this is not essential. Any kitchen appliances left at a property will remain the responsibility of the landlord, unless otherwise specified.

 

Property maintenance

During tenancies, tenants are requested to report all defects promptly to us. If it is of an urgent nature e.g. burst pipes, it would be repaired by our chosen maintenance engineer at our discretion to avoid further damage, and or cost to you. For less urgent defects we would contact you and gain permission before proceeding. This is of course for defects caused as a result of normal wear and tear, and is your responsibility as the landlord. Any fault caused by the tenant will be repaired at their own cost. We would request that details of all service contracts, and current guarantees are given to us at the time of instruction. If the property is fitted with a central heating system we would recommend arranging an annual service contract to avoid expensive breakdown costs.

 

Property visits

Our management team will visit your property and view both the inside and outside. This is to gain an understanding of how the tenants are living in the property, and to also look for possible defects that should be addressed (it should be appreciated that any overview can only extend to apparent or obvious defects and would not amount in any way to a survey). We cannot accept responsibility for hidden or latent defects. M & M Properties are not qualified surveyors or structural engineers. None of our property managers hold professional qualifications in property maintenance. A written report can be provided on request after a property visit has been carried out.

 

Transfer of services

We will read the gas and electric meters and arrange for the transfer of the services at the commencement of each tenancy. However as the telephone providers will not deal with managing agents you will need to arrange disconnection and your final account before leaving the property. Incoming tenants will make their own arrangements for the reconnection of the service. Water meters are generally transferred by us into the tenant’s name; however, in some situations it will be necessary for the landlord to remain responsible. Where there is a water meter M & M Properties will notify the water company, and an estimated bill will be raised. M & M Properties do not read water meters without prior agreement with the landlord. Our Property Managers will advise accordingly regarding this.

Please note: M & M Properties formally notify the electric and (where applicable) the gas suppliers in writing of changes to the bill payer. We will also supply meter readings. M & M Properties cannot guarantee that the utility company will always act on such communications appropriately, but will always keep accurate records to ensure protection of our landlord clients.

 

Collection of rent and accounting

At the commencement of the tenancy we will collect the first month’s instalment of rent in advance in cleared funds. The tenant will thereafter pay the rent on the first of each month by standing order. The landlord will be paid into a designated bank account by the twentieth of the same month. Our accounts department will provide a detailed monthly statement showing the rent received, and any deductions including our service charge and other expenses. The forwarding of statements to accountants or another third party is carried out by us at your request with no extra cost. We will, if instructed, settle the landlord’s closing accounts for gas, electricity, water and council tax.

 

Tenancy agreements and notices

Your property will be let under an assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement as defined in the Housing Act 1988, as amended in 1996 and 2004. The Agreement will be for a fixed term no less than six months and would not end sooner, unless both the Landlord and Tenant were both in agreement. The rent would remain the same during this set period with any increase, if requested, being obtained at renewal of contracts for a further term.

Assuming that no breach of the Tenancy Agreement has occurred the provisions for recovery of possession in section 21 of the Housing Act would apply. The landlord would be required to serve a minimum of two months notice prior to the end of the agreement when looking to recover possession.

 

Deposits and the tenants dispute service

M & M Properties will secure a minimum of a month and a half deposit held by us on your behalf as security against dilapidations caused to the property by the tenant (the Property Manager dealing with your prospective let will advise you how much deposit he/she has secured. Whilst the worst dilapidations we usually witness may be some additional cleaning or gardening at the end of the tenancy, we will usually seek to secure the largest deposit negotiable providing you the landlord with as much security as possible.

Electrical Safety Regulations

There are a number of pieces of legislation including the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations of 1994 which relate to the supply and maintenance of electrical equipment, household appliances and/or the cables plugs and sockets which connect them.

We recommend that before a tenant takes occupation of your property a Fixed Wiring and P.A.T. (Portable Appliance Test) is carried out by a qualified electrician. Common electric items included in rented properties are: electric cookers, microwave ovens, electric kettles, vacuum cleaners and table lamps.

  1. GENERAL SAFETY – Electrical appliances should be checked before every let. If there is any doubt as to the safety of any electrical item it must be removed. Therefore be vigilant when you see worn or cut flexes, broken casings or other safety defects. The regulations stipulate that appliances need to be checked by a qualified electrician.
  2. REPLACEMENT – whereas once it was common for landlords to use second-hand appliances in properties to save money, the new regulations make this inadvisable. If clients insist on putting in second-hand electrical goods, then they must be tested by a qualified electrician.

Whilst at present there is no specific statutory requirement placed upon landlords to prove that such items are regularly checked or tested by a qualified electrical engineer (IEE wiring regulations BS 7671 Standard) M & M Properties strongly recommend to landlords that appropriate ongoing checks of equipment should be scheduled and kept up to date.

 

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors

From October 10th 2015 a Landlords must fix working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every home they rent out.

Landlords will be required to install smoke alarms on every floor and test them at the start of every tenancy. We strongly advise mains connected smoke alarms to avoid misuse or management by the tenant. Rooms which are at a high risk, such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed will need to have carbon monoxide alarms installed.

 

Legionaires Disease

Health and safety legislation requires that landlords carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires’ Disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk. Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced.

Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella is properly assessed and controlled via a risk assessment from a competent person. For further information and who to carry out this assessment please ask one of our property managers.

 

The Gas Saftey (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994

ON THE 31ST OF October 1994 the Gas Safety Regulations came into force. They are designed to provide standards for the installation and maintenance of gas appliances, meters, pipework etc. Landlords should be aware of the general provisions in the regulations for all new gas pipework and appliance installations and conditions for on-going maintenance.

  1. GENERAL SAFETY – Appliances should be safe. Work on gas appliances and fittings must only be carried out by a qualified gas fitted (GAS SAFE Registered).
  2. FLUES – All flues should be correctly fitted and checked for blockage every twelve months. No open flue appliances are to be installed in bedrooms or bathrooms.
  3. PERIODIC INSPECTIONS – Landlords must ensure that all gas appliances in rented property are checked for safety at least every twelve months. Records must be kept of such checks, date of inspection and any defects noted and rectified.
  4. INSTRUCTIONS – Instruction booklets should be available for all gas appliances.

Our recommendation: As the above regulations stipulates you, as the owner, are responsible for gas appliances left at your rented property.  We recommend that you employ the services of British Gas, and take advantage of their various service contracts or use a local GAS SAFE registered plumber.

The contact telephone number of British Gas or a local plumber are available on request, and if you have any queries regarding these regulations you should raise these with our property management team, who will be delighted to assist you.

 

Furniture and Furnishing Regulations

On the 1st of March 1993, the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire and Safety Amended) 1993 regulations came into force. As from the 1st of January 1997 any furniture supplied as part of a new let must comply with these regulations. These regulations directly affect the way in which you, the Landlord, may furnish your rented property.

All upholstered furniture or furnishings must meet the Fire Safety Regulations. An exclusion to note, however, is furniture manufactured before the 1st of January 1950. Apparently defective flammable materials were not used prior to this date and therefore “period” or antique furniture is exempt. Generally, items manufactured in the UK after 1990 are likely to meet the required standards and display the appropriate permanent label confirming its compliance.

Items the regulations apply to:

  1. Three piece suites, sofas, arm chairs
  2. Scatter cushions, seat pads, bean bags
  3. Convertible sofa beds, futons
  4. Loose covers on upholstered furniture
  5. Conservatory furniture, garden furniture suitable for indoors

Exceptions:

  1. Antique furniture or furniture manufactured prior to 1950
  2. Carpets and curtains
  3. Duvets, Pillow cases and Linen
  4. Mattress protectors

These regulations make it an offence to supply in the course of business any furniture that fails to meet the cigarette test and ignitability test. Currently the offence carries a punishment of six months imprisonment or a level 5 fine (currently £5000). These penalties are only for non-compliance and should there be a fire, the landlord could be held liable to greater penalties.

 

Energy Performance Certificates

In October 2008, all landlords offering property to rent were required by law to provide prospective tenant’s free of charge, an Energy Performance Certificate on their property. The requirement has been introduced to comply with the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which applies to all property including rented property.

In 2009, all buildings in the UK that were constructed, sold or rented out had to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). EPCs for dwellings rate the energy performance of the buildings (not the appliances within them) on a scale of A to G, where A is the most efficient and G is the least. This is displayed graphically in a similar way to present labelling of white goods such as fridges and washing machines. Two ratings are shown, an overall energy efficiency rating and an environmental impact rating. In terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the higher the rating, the less impact on the environment. EPCs will always be accompanied by a recommendations report, including a list of measures (such as low and zero carbon generating systems) that would improve the energy rating of the building and indication.

By 2018 it will be an offence to re-let, or market for rent, properties which have an F or G rating.

 

Immigration Act 2014

Under the Immigration act 2014 a landlord is unable to offer a tenancy unless the person applying is a British Citizen or a national from a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), a Swiss national or has a right to rent in the UK.

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