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    Tenant Direct

    the landlords’ choice

    A first class, proactive service for busy local landlords.

    Finding suitable tenants, managing the paperwork, resolving day-to-day maintenance problems and monitoring changes in legislation takes time and effort.

    At Tenant Direct, we are happy to relieve busy landlords of the burden, with the assurance that their business investment is in safe, professional hands.

    Finding good tenants fast is vital for protecting a buy-to-let investment. We have the systems, contacts and processes in place to find and screen tenants from diverse target markets.

    Optional Pre-purchase Consultation

    We can appraise your prospective purchase and advise on its potential with recommendations for a target market, achievable rent and information on the financial considerations.

    Talk to our friendly team

    Not sure what you need? We are here to help.

    Landlords can choose one of two main service levels - LETTINGS ONLY or FULLY MANAGED - with additional, optional services.

    LETTINGS ONLY

    This service comprises:

    On our own popular website, Rightmove, FindaProperty and others, local press advertising and circulating details to contacts in student accommodation offices and among local large employers

    From minor works to complete refurbishment, we can arrange and supervise redecoration, repairs, carpeting, curtains and furnishing. We work closely with local suppliers and trades people to ensure competitive pricing and quality workmanship for our landlords.

    Accompanying prospective tenants when viewing a property

    Collecting references from previous landlords, banks and employers, and running credit checks and ID verification.

    Preparing tenancy agreements, supervising signatures, handling deposits, preparing an inventory and schedule of condition, supervising the transfer of fuel bills and council tax accounts into the tenant's name.

    FULLY MANAGED

    All of the above services plus:

    Collecting the rent and transferring it to the landlord, handling tenant queries, conducting periodic inspections and arranging any repairs and maintenance work required to keep the property in top rental condition.

    Buy-to-let key considerations

    Here we have listed some key considerations for would-be and existing landlords. As one of our clients, we would advise you on all these subjects and any other matters that need to be addressed to remain compliant with prevailing legislation.

    Your lender will need to provide written consent before you can arrange to let a mortgaged property. Some lenders ask for additional terms to be placed in the tenancy agreement, so we will need to see these before we prepare contracts. If the property is leasehold, the terms of the lease will also need to be checked, and written consent obtained from the leaseholder. If you are looking for a tenant for accommodation that you are yourself renting, you will need the landlord's written permission to do so.

    Check that your buildings and contents policies cover you for letting the building, (otherwise they may be invalid in the event of a claim) and arrange for specific landlord's insurance where necessary. We are a registered agent for HomeLets, an insurance company specialising in landlords and tenants, and our website has links to the relevant HomeLets policy application forms for buildings and contents insurance, rent guarantee protection and legal expenses cover should you require them.

    Landlords who are resident in the UK are obliged to pay income tax on their rental income, although management fees, mortgage interest and maintenance charges are all deductable. If the landlord is not resident in the UK, we are obliged, as the landlord's agents, to withhold a proportion of the rent equivalent to the basic rate of income tax (minus allowable expenses) and send it to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis. Exemption Certificates can be issued under certain circumstances, so check with the Inland Revenue whether you are eligible for one.

    The tenant is responsible for paying the Council Tax on your rented accommodation, but the charge reverts to the landlord during void (unlet) periods. If the vacant accommodation is furnished, the tax is reduced by 50%. If it is 'substantially' unfurnished, the tax will be reduced by 50% following a 6 month 'no charge' period.

    From April 2014, landlords of HMOs need to have a special licence for their HMO properties. Any property that has 3 or more unrelated (or where 2 households reside in the same property sharing amenities) will need a licence. Licenses are granted by the Council (following a satisfactory assessment of the property). During the assessment, the council representatives will be looking for safety hazards and evidence of structural inadequacy. Landlords are obliged to remedy any faults that are picked up during the assessment. We can advise you on the costs of the licences on request.

    From 6th April 2007, the government authorised three companies to act as scheme administrators for tenant's security deposits, these are namely ‘The Deposit Protection Service’ (DPS), ‘The Dispute Service’ (TDS) and ‘Mydeposits.co.uk’ . Therefore, when a landlord or agent takes receipt of a tenant's deposit, it must be registered with one of these companies within 14 days, The landlord or agent is then obligated to inform the tenant of the name of the company under which it is held.

    Any dispute over the deposit will be arbitrated by the scheme administrator. The independent case examiner will decide on the distribution of the deposit after hearing both parties side of the story and will issue their verdict and the deposit must be distributed in line with this.

    If either party remain unsatisfied following the verdict the schemes they do not take away the right of either side to take the issue to county court following the outcome although it is unlikely to achieve a different verdict so is generally not worth the time or money taken to do so.

    Any dispute over the deposit will be arbitrated by the custodian company. If the dispute can not be settled by the custodian, the landlord can apply to a county court to decide the case, at a cost of £150. (The hefty fee means that in some cases it will not be worthwhile for a landlord to pursue a financial claim).

    The penalties for failing to comply with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme regulations include being unable to issue a Section 21 notice for repossession (to end a tenancy), and being asked to pay the tenant three times the amount of rent that he or she has paid over the duration of the tenancy.

    The Inventory checklist is the landlord's bible when it comes to resolving disputes at the end of a tenancy, so it needs to be a comprehensive document listing the contents of the building with a description of their condition at the beginning of the let. (We are used to preparing very detailed inventory checklists which give peace of mind to both landlords and their tenants).

    There are many safety obligations governing rented accommodation, covering everything from the gas cooker to wobbly roof tiles. By law, it is the landlord's responsibility to ensure all the safety legislation is followed. As a managing agent, we would be both advising on any areas that needed to be addressed, and arranging for checks to be made and necessary work carried out at the landlord's expense.

    Under the General Product Safety Regulations 1994, it states that all products supplied in the course of a commercial activity must be safe. For a building that is to be let to tenants, this would therefore include the structure of the building as much as its contents, so anything that could be seen as a potential danger needs to be dealt with promptly, such as leaning walls, loose tiles or broken glass on the path.

    Each adult tenant should be supplied with his or her own key. (If we are responsible for the management of the building, we will arrange to have new keys cut as required).

    A tenant is not responsible for forwarding any mail that arrives at the property addressed to you. So to be sure you receive your mail in a timely fashion, we recommend using the Post Office 'redirection service'. Please ask for a form at your local Post Office branch.

    Thinking of purchasing a buy-to-let property?

    Talk to the experts at Tenant Direct.

    Preparing a property for letting

    The landlord is responsible for ensuring that all of the major utilities installed at the premises are safe and in good working order. This covers the electrical connections, gas supply, plumbing and waste pipes, central heating and hot water systems. The landlord is also responsible for the repair and maintenance of utility service points in the home, unless it can be proven that any failure is caused as a result of misuse by the tenant.

    Landlords should ensure that the accommodation is thoroughly cleaned before tenants move in. When the tenants move out, they will be obliged to leave it in the condition they found it or to pay to have it cleaned.

    Landlords should ensure that any garden area is left neat and clear of any rubbish when tenants move in, and that sufficient tools are available for tenants to maintain the tidy appearance. If the garden is particularly large or developed, we offer an optional gardening service as part of our full maintainance package.

    It is best to redecorate any accommodation in light, neutral colours to appeal to the widest audience. Any personal items around the house should be removed from the premises, or stored in the loft or some other out-of-the-way place (at the owner's risk).

    All cupboards, drawers and shelves should be cleared to make way for the tenant's things. The minimum amount of furniture should be left for tenants, to reduce overcrowding and leave some room for a few pieces that the tenants may be bringing with them. Everything supplied should be of reasonable quality and in good condition, and available for the tenant to see during the viewing. We advise that unfurnished homes and apartments should still contain carpets, curtains and a cooker at the very least.

    To help your tenants through the early stages, and to reduce the number of frustrated queries, it is helpful if you leave a folder of information for your tenants with instruction manuals for the various appliances, rubbish collection and recycled waste days, details on where to find the fuse box, mains stopcock and anything else that may provide them with reassurance during their tenancy. With any luck this is a job that will only need doing once, while the appreciation will last through several rounds of tenants.

    Gas appliances should be in a usable condition, and serviced or repaired at the landlord's expense (unless it can be proved they have been misused by the tenant). The latest revision of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations (1996) states that all gas appliances in rented properties must be checked and certified as safe at least every 12 months by a GAS SAFE registered gas engineer. Landlords are obliged to keep a record of inspection dates, any problems that were identified and details of corrective work taken.

    The rules for electrical appliances are slightly different for those concerning gas, as there is no legal requirement to produce a safety certificate under the prevailing legislation (Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994). However, all electrical installations and equipment in tenanted buildings have to be safe, so they should be visually checked on a regular basis, and preferably by a qualified electrician.

    The latest revision of the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (1996 amendment) dictates that specific items supplied to tenants should meet the minimum fire resistance standards. This includes all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, and loose items such as curtains, pillowcases and sleeping bags. It is the landlord's responsibility to ensure that items that do not comply with these regulations are removed from the premises. Furniture made before 1950 is exempt from the regulations, and furniture and furnishings manufactured after the 1st March 1990 are more than likely to comply. We will of course be able to assist with identifying any non-compliant furniture or furnishings as part of our fully managed service.

    Student lets

    There are more than 30,000 students residing in the city, with nearly half of these in privately owned properties - making studio flats and large houses for multiple occupancy a popular choice with local landlords.

    It seems to get earlier and earlier each year, but generally we will collate lists and commence marketing for the following academic year from November, the peak hunt season for students is between November through to February, so make sure you inform us of your property availability nice an early to make the most of the busy period.

    By definition, a student who is studying in Southampton is unlikely to live in Southampton all year round. However landlords should not assume they cannot achieve a year tenancy at full rent, each area of the UK is different but in the local area it is generally a 12 month term that is expected, 99% of our student tenancies are signed up for a full year. If a student however is taking the tenancy at full rent for the summer period they do expect and have the right to full access to the property during the summer months, therefore if you are planning any refurbishments during this period you should perhaps offer reduced rent whilst works are being carried out.

    When the names of all tenants are listed on a single contract, it is classed as a 'joint and several tenancy'. This means that responsibility for the rent, and any rent arrears, is shared equally with the other tenants. So if one tenant leaves, or stops paying the rent, the remaining tenants are obliged to make up the lost rent and/or pay the arrears.

    Under a 'separate tenancy' agreement, each tenant will have a separate contract that specifies the room he or she will be occupying, and the amount of rent that the tenant is individually responsible for.

    The advantage to a landlord of a joint contract is that the full rent is payable regardless of the number of tenants remaining in the property. It is our advice to always sign agreements with students as a joint and several tenancy where possible, as there is then a joint responsibility to maintain not just the room but the communal areas as well, along with this with one tenancy the landlord does not need to get in to the messy business of including utility bills.

    Council tax is another important concern when renting on separate agreements, as although students are exempt from council tax, when a property is rented on separate agreements the council tax liability is with the landlord and unless each occupant provides an exemption certificate to the council and they will have no qualms in charging the landlord full council tax for lack of evidence that the property is rented to student occupants. Quite often it is a year or so before the council actually bill the landlord by which time the tenants may have left leaving the landlord no choice but to pay. Therefore if you do rent your house on separate tenancies to students we suggest that an exemption certificate for council tax is sought from the student prior to allowing them to move in to the house.

    When renting to students we always advise to seek parental guarantors for each individual in the property. By definition students are generally young and have little or no income other than student loans, part time jobs and parental support. Therefore it is important that your rent is guaranteed by someone who has more means should the tenant fall behind with rent. This has a twofold benefit, one the student does not want a their parents being chased for their debts so is more likely to ensure they are responsible with regards to rent payments, but if they are not you have a financially secure person backing the rent.

    We ensure all guarantors are over the age of 25 and homeowners earning in excess of three times the value of the rent as minimum.

    If we arrange for a joint and several tenancy, in which all occupiers of the property are listed on one contract, then each individual would have their own guarantor, so for example if you have a six bedroom property you would have six guarantors, the benefit of this is that if only one tenant falls behind with rent then you can follow up with the guarantor without having to chase the other tenants to make up the shortfall therefore protecting the tenants from each others’ financial issues as much as possible.

    The majority of the time household bills will not be included in the rent, therefore these will need to be transferred into the tenants names when they move in, we take meter readings on commencement of the tenancy on managed properties to avoid any liability on the landlord at a later date.

    Many students will be living away from home for the first time, with little or no prior experience of taking responsibility for the day-to-day running of a home. At Tenant Direct, we always make it clear to students which maintenance duties are their responsibility and not those of the landlord or ourselves as managing agents.

    For example, if a landlord has provided a lawnmower for the upkeep of the garden, we will make it clear that this is a job that the students should manage between them on a regular basis. We also work with landlords to ensure that student tenants have the information they need to maintain the property as they would their own home - such as the days when rubbish is collected, the location of the nearest recycling facilities, and where the emergency mains stopcock is located.

    By providing as much information, guidance and support as we can up front, we foster good relationships with student tenants, and reduce the chance of problems further down the line.

    As a landlord, you have every right to inspect your rented property - but not whenever you feel like it! The rules are that any visit must be made at reasonable hours and with 24 hours notice.

    Are you a student landlord or thinking of becoming one? Talk to us.

    Tenant Direct are the student landlords’ choice in Southampton. Our office is based in a prime location opposite Solent University.

    Insurance

    Tenant Direct is an appointed agent of HomeLet, a specialist insurer offering policies for both landlords and tenants and at very competitive rates.

    Policies for landlords cover buildings insurance, contents insurance, legal expenses and rent guarantees. If you would like a quote for any one of these policies, please get in touch with us and we will arrange this for you.

    HomeLet policies at a glance

    Protection against damage to your rented building, including: rebuilding your property following damage by fire, aircraft, smoke, malicious persons (including tenants); accidental damage to bathroom fixtures, fittings and glass; falling trees; theft by forcible means; subsidence; riot / civil commotion; storm, flood, escape of water or oil leakage; loss of rent following damage to a maximum of 20% of the sum insured. (Also includes property owner's liability insurance).

    New for old cover against loss of or damage to the contents of your rented building, including: replacement of items lost or damaged as a result of fire, smoke, malicious persons, theft by forcible means, breakage of mirrors or glass in furniture, replacement of locks following theft of keys. (Also includes landlord's liability insurance).

    All legal expenses paid up to a maximum of £50,000, with no policy excess, for legal action taken against tenants. For example, if obliged to pursue tenants through the courts for non payment of rent, damaging or removing your personal possessions or causing a nuisance to neighbours.

    Rent Guarantee cover includes all rent you were due to receive from your property until vacant possession has been obtained, for a maximum of 12 months (excluding the first month of 'lost' rent). An additional 50% of rent is payable for up to three months after the property is vacated, to cover any void while new tenants are found. Any related legal expenses are included in the cover.

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