Georgesons Estate Agents
22 Bridge Street
Wick KW1 4NG
T: 01955 602222
F: 01955 603016
19 Traill Street
T: 01847 892225
F: 01847 892235
22 High Street
T: 01862 892555
F: 01862 894861
Guide to Leasing your Property
Your Responsibilities as a Landlord
This sets out some of the responsibilities of a landlord which we would wish to bring to your attention at this time. This is not an exhaustive list nor is it comprehensive as that would require a letter of many scores of pages.
It is not a substitute for legal advice about any specific situation and should you require specific advice, please be in touch.
It will be worthwhile for you to have a look at www.betterrentingscotland.com where you will find a great deal of free information. Please note that, on that website, there is a difference between those parts where it says that you “must” or that you “have a duty”, and those where it says that you “should”.
Those in the first category, you have to comply with and those in the second category are areas that you should seriously consider complying with.
It is the landlord's responsibility to ensure that the various requirements are met. Any work in which we are involved in any other connection would incur fees in addition to the commission which we presently charge for rent collection.
If you have a mortgage, then it will be part of your contract with the lender that you do not let the property without their permission. This permission may have already been given if you have a “Buy-to-Let” mortgage but otherwise you will need to seek specific permission before instructing us. If you do not do so, you may well find yourself to be in breach of your contract with the lender. The consequences of informing the lender of your intention may be that they increase your interest rate or, indeed, refuse permission.
On letting your property, you should ensure that you are no longer the person to whom the services such as gas, electricity, telephone, etc. are billed. Ensure that the meter is read and the above information transmitted to the service provider. In the event that a tenant runs up a substantial bill and does not pay, you may well be responsible if your name appears on the invoice.
It is advisable to notify Highland Council, for the purposes of Council Tax, of a change of tenant or when a property becomes vacant. At the time of signing of the Lease, we will arrange for the tenant to complete a Change of Address form for Council Tax and will forward this to the Council Tax authorities for their records. We, as agents, will not be further involved in any way in this connection unless we are specifically instructed by you to do so. If you do not notify, you may well be asked by the Council to pay the tax. Remember to advise Highland Council when a tenant leaves. You can apply for relief for a limited period if the property is empty.
Energy Performance Certificate
As from 4th January 2009, prior to letting a property you will require to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) available to exhibit, free of charge, to any prospective tenant. This must be provided within nine days of request.
Failure to have fulfilled this obligation renders the Landlord personally liable to a fixed penalty fine of £500.
We cannot market a property without an EPC.
We can arrange for an EPC, if you require one.
Repairs and the Repairing Standard
A landlord has a duty to ensure the property meets a certain standard at the start of the tenancy and, thereafter, to repair and maintain the property to that standard at all times during the tenancy. This includes a duty to make good any damage caused by carrying out this work.
Upon notification or awareness of a defect, a landlord must complete the work within a reasonable time.
There is a “Repairing Standard” to guide landlords in their duty and details are to be found on www.betterrentingscotland.com .
You must inform your tenant about the Repairing Standard at the start of each tenancy.
If a tenant believes that you have failed to meet that standard, they can apply for an order for works to be carried out and for a reduction in rent to the Private Rented Housing Panel.
Before the tenant can go to this body, he or she must have given you a reasonable time to carry out the repairs but if the body believes that you have not carried out reasonable repairs, they may make an Order requiring you to do it. It is a criminal offence to fail to comply and another to re-let the property while the Order is in force.
You can see their website at www.prhpscotland.gov.uk.
There is much useful information on that website which you are advised to consider.
Now that the tenant has this remedy, it is advisable that you ensure that you keep a note of all correspondence and it is perhaps best to put everything in writing.
You should make sure that you have adequate landlord’s insurance.
It is now necessary to ensure that the house is fitted with fire/smoke alarms. If they were fitted before 3rd September 2007, they may be battery-operated.
That is general guidance but please note that the situation is complicated and you need to read the guidance on the PRHP website.
A landlord should ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that all electrical appliances supplied as part of the let are safe to use.
A landlord should arrange for a qualified electrician or qualified person holding the appropriate Portable Appliance certificate to complete:
(a) an annual portable electrical appliances safety test (PAT) and
(b) a regular five year check of electrical wiring circuits and mains board;
In each case, an electrical safety report should be obtained from an approved electrical contractor to ensure equipment or circuits conform to current relevant Electrical Regulations.
A record of all inspections and of any defects detected and the remedial action taken must be maintained and this record must be available for inspection by the tenant after reasonable notice of their wish to do so.
A landlord must ensure that any gas fittings in let premises are safe and ensure that they are maintained in a safe condition. The term "gas fittings" includes gas appliances and pipework in the premises if the landlord owns them or has control over them, and any appliances/pipework which serve the premises.
The landlord must arrange and pay for safety checks and any necessary work to be carried out on appliances. Safety checks should be carried out every twelve months at least and the checks must be carried out by a person who is registered with or employed by a company registered with CORGI (the Confederation of Registered Gas Installers) and approved by the Health & Safety Executive.
A record of all inspections, safety checks and any defects detected and the remedial action taken must be maintained and this record must be available for inspection by the tenant after reasonable notice of their wish to do so.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989 and 1993) set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery and these regulations apply to furniture and furnishings included in holiday homes and residential furnished accommodation which are let in the course of business.
The Department of Trade and Industry have published a guide to the regulations and they recommend that anyone wishing to ensure that their furnishings meet the requirements of the regulations should contact their local trading standards department.
If a house is occupied by three or more persons, not members of the same family, a licence is required.
Georgesons cannot act as agents for any person who is the owner of a house in multiple occupation unless they hold an appropriate licence.
The local authority can require us to disclose the name and address of the owner of any property they suspect of being occupied without such a licence.
Local Authority Registration
All residential landlords require to be registered with the local authority. This registration requires to be renewed every three years.
Landlords can register online at www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk or an application form can be obtained from the following address:
Licensing Officer, The Highland Council, High Street, DINGWALL, IV15 9QN. Initial Registration - Tel. 01349 868579/8685258. Renewals – Tel. 01349 868493.
It is an offence to let a property after 30th April 2006 without either being registered or having submitted a valid application for registration.
It will also be an offence for Georgesons to act as agents for any landlord who is not registered or has not submitted a valid application.
Antisocial Behaviour by your tenants
It will be possible for the local authority to force you to take action against your tenants where they are acting in an antisocial way. This can include eviction action. If you do not take these actions, you may well be guilty of a criminal offence.
In addition, the local authority can impose an Antisocial Behaviour Order upon your tenant.
Both of the above may involve you in significant cost.
H.M. Revenue & Customs
As you will no doubt, be aware, a return of all rental income should be made to H.M. Revenue & Customs on an annual basis. We are required to provide to them a list of all clients for whom we collect rents.