Homes by Sophihe

Lettings Information

Impressions do count

Presentation of your home, both inside and out, can make all the difference in securing a good tenancy. Add a fresh coat of paint, tidy the garden, clean your front door and make sure any communal areas are respectable. The inside of your house should be as clutter-free as possible; clear surfaces give the impression of space! Check all the light bulbs are working and everything is in good working order. If a tenant sees that the property is in need of repair, they will assume the property is not well maintained properly and this will make them less enthusiastic.

Access matters

Everybody is busy these days; so it is important that a prospective applicant can view your property at a time that's convenient for them. Give us a set of keys, and contact details for any current occupant, so we can organise accompanied viewings, leaving everyone else to get on with other commitments. Rest assured, we will highlight the best features of your house on your behalf - it's in our interests as much as yours.

Additional Benefits

Brief us on all the non-obvious things that make the property attractive like a particularly sunny spot in the garden, friendly neighbours, good local shops & schools. It will help us ensure that any potential purchaser is seeing the property in its best light.

Be patient.

Don't worry if the first few viewings don't lead to a tenancy. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your home or the way it is presented. Remember we are looking for the right tenant for you, not just any tenant. However, do be open to any feedback from viewings and be prepared to listen to ideas that may make your property more appealing.

Be open-minded

You don't have to accept the first offer and it is worth discussing with us if better terms or a better tenant could be achieved by waiting. There are many facets to a good tenancy, including the term, the rent, the tenant, the start date. They all need to be taken into consideration.

Furnished or unfurnished?

This is a personal choice, but renting a property furnished is unlikely to achieve a better rental than an unfurnished one and can be more expensive for a Landlord with maintenance. However it may still be better to offer the property to the market with the furniture you have to save on storage costs. Properties with exceptional furniture do sometimes attract a premium. We would also suggest that you remain flexible on this subject as supplying a piece of furniture, like a bed, to secure a good offer may be better for you financially than waiting a couple of weeks for another offer without that condition.

Give yourself some time

It is always a good idea to give yourself sometime between tenancies, to assess the property untenanted and review its true condition. Cleaning properties at the start and end of a tenancy can be a problematic especially if there is not enough time to rectify any issues that come to light on the last day of one tenancy and before the next starts.

Why do I need a professional inventory?

It is not a legal requirement to have an inventory of the condition and contents of your property. However, if you need to claim against the tenant's deposit at the end of the tenancy for any loss or damage, it is essential. A poor inventory, or no inventory, can cost a landlord a substantial amount of money.

Professional cleaning

It is not a legal requirement to supply a property in a clean condition, however it is generally expected and we would strongly recommend that you have the house, carpet, windows and contents, professionally cleaned for the start of any tenancy. The condition can then be noted on the inventory and your tenancy agreement should state that the tenant is required to return the property in the same state of cleanliness. If they do not and it is noted on the inventory, they will be liable for the cost of returning the house to the same clean state.

Keys

Retain an original full set of keys for all the locks of your property. Your tenant will generally need one set for the front door for all the adults residing at the property, plus one spare set. Your property manager will also need a set of keys. Additional property keys should be labelled and left in the property for the tenant's use and for noting on the inventory at the start of the tenancy. Private parking permits and parking remote controls should also be available and recorded on the inventory at the start of the tenancy.

Utilities

When the tenancy has started and you have a copy of the inventory check-in report, use the meter readings noted to close your accounts. The Data Protection Act now makes it hard for a third party to close and open accounts on your behalf. It is not advisable to do this before the tenancy starts as it is important that the supplies are in place for the tenant when they move in.

Insurance

As the landlord, you are responsible for insuring the property and your contents. The tenant will be responsible for insuring their own items and this should be confirmed in the Tenancy Agreement. Your policy must allow for the property to be rented to a third party, as some require the policy holder to be resident. Please check.

When choosing your agent we recommend that you use one that is regulated, accountable and proactive; an agent, which values their own reputation and has a strong track record of success and recommendations, experience counts for a lot in this industry. You should be confident that your agent understands all the legislation thoroughly, because you will be held accountable if anything goes wrong.

A good agent should be able to advise on any additional personal conditions you wish to make on the tenancy and be able to make any appropriate changes to the Tenancy Agreement. Be careful that there are no hidden costs and that your agent is clear about when your liability to pay their fee ends. Keep these issues in mind and you will be able to confidently select an agent that will protect you and your property and will give you the service you deserve.

Questions to ask your agent:

Letting & rent management:

  • How will my property be marketed?
  • Do you accompany every viewing?
  • How do you report on the progress of the marketing?
  • How do you reference tenants?
  • What household bills would a tenant be responsible for and what would remain my responsibility?
  • How quickly do you process rental payments?
  • What do you do if the rent is not paid?
  • How do I know my money & the tenants deposit monies are safe?
  • How do you ensure my keys and data are kept safe?
  • What legal training does your team have?
  • How do you keep up to date with changes in legislation and keep clients informed?
  • Are you regulated by an industry bodies? (ARLA, NAEA, RICS, NALs etc)
  • What initial costs should I expect?
  • What costs should I expect during the tenancy?

Full Management:

  • How often do you visit the property and how do you report your findings?
  • Is there an additional charge for property visits?
  • Do you continue to manage my property between tenancies?
  • What does the tenant do if they have an emergency out of normal office hours?
  • Do your contractors charge for visiting and quoting for works required?
  • What is the spend limit you have before my authorisation is required for necessary repairs?
  • Does your service include assisting with the return of the deposit at the end of the tenancy?
  • How do you ensure I don't end up paying for repairs that a tenant has caused?

Choosing your property

There is more to selecting the right property than getting the right location and price right. Try to choose a property that is in good condition and appears to be well-maintained. This will probably be a good sign that the Landlord will deal with repairs when needed. Ideally for true peace of mind, choose a property that is managed by the letting agent.

Using a letting agent

It's worth spending a little time explaining to your agent what you are looking for and why; this will make their search more fruitful and quicker for you in the long run. There's a lot of competition for good properties so give them all your contact details, so they can reach you when the perfect property becomes available. If the agent doesn't seem keen to discuss your requirements in detail, then they probably aren't the right agent and will waste your time with inappropriate properties. A good agent will value your time and be accommodating when arranging viewings for you. However, be aware that if a property is occupied viewings have to be also agreed with the current tenant's/occupant's approval.

Use your imagination

Sometime a property is not presented in its best light because the current occupant has no vested interest in making the property appeal to you. Try to image it tidy, clean and clear of their personal effects!

Current tenants

If you are fortunate enough to meet the current tenant of a property you are viewing, ask them how they have enjoyed the property and whether the landlord has been accommodating and approachable. Ask about neighbours, parking, transport links and anything else that is important to you. The letting agent should have all these answers but to have it confirmed by a third party is always comforting.

Be safe and use a regulated agent

In all likelihood, the agent will be producing the tenancy agreement and holding keys for the property during the tenancy, therefore they need to be knowledgeable, reputable and accountable. An ARLA licensed agent has had the appropriate legal training and has client monies protection, which is important if they are holding your deposit during the tenancy. It is always best to rent a property that is being professionally managed during the tenancy, so that you know there will be someone you can reach and to turn to if a problem arises.

Be quick!

When you find the right property be prepared to make a quick decision; if possible try to bring all the parties involved in making this decision with you to the viewing. It doesn't really matter how long a property has been on the market, if it is the one you want, then you need to secure it as soon as possible because the next person viewing it may feel the same as you. The majority of agents will ask for a holding fund to remove the property from the open market whilst negotiations take place.

Be prepared

As soon as terms are agreed, subject to contract and satisfactory references, all the proposed tenants and adult occupants will need to provide proof of identity by way of a passport or current photo driving license (both parts) plus a recent utility bill for their current address. If you require a visa or official permission to reside in the UK, be prepared to provide evidence for this.

Referencing

All tenants are usually referenced and this is usually done by an independent referencing company. They will ask you to complete an application form with information about your previous residences and landlords, as well as information about your income. Completely these form quickly, accurately and in detail and alert your referees that they will be contacted. The company will then produce a report for the landlord, so that they can approve the references.

Insurance

Under the terms of the tenancy agreement the landlord should insure the property and their own contents. They will not provide insurance to cover the tenant's personal items or furniture. We strongly recommend you have this in for the start of the tenancy.

Inventory

It is recommended that an inventory is taken of the property, contents and condition at the start of the tenancy. You should be asked to attend the checking of this inventory at the start of the tenancy to ensure it is accurate and be given a copy of the report once it has been completed. It is very important this document is correct because it will be used to assess any deductions from your deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Professional clean

If it has been agreed that the landlord will supply the property professionally cleaned and you are not happy with the condition you receive it in, on the day the tenancy starts, you must immediately bring this to your agent's/Landlord's attention, so that the professional cleaners are able to re-attend and clean any items that were missed or not done to the standard you wish. Please note, you will be required to professionally clean the property to the same standard when the tenancy ends.

Joint and Several Liability

If you are intending to rent a property with a friend or group of friends, choose them wisely. Most tenancy agreements require “Joint and Several Liability” of the tenants. This means that each adult named on the tenancy agreement as the tenant, is responsible for all the rent and all the property, on their own and also as a group. So if your friend disappears and doesn't pay the rent, the landlord can legally look to you to pay any outstanding amount. Likewise if your co-tenant damages the property, the Landlord could legally ask you to pay or compensate him to repair/replace the item damaged or lost.

Here is an example of the monies that would be payable prior to the start of a tenancy, if the rent was £350 per week, payable calendar monthly in advance:-

Rent for the period 01/01/15 – 31/01/15
£1,516.67
 
Deposit
£2,100.00
 
Tenancy Administration
£250.00
 
Inventory Check In charge
£150.00
 
Referencing of Mr and Mrs Smith
£160.00
 
Total
£4,176.67
 
Less Offer Monies received
£500.00
 
Balance Due in cleared funds prior to the start of the tenancy
£3,676.67
 

 

PROCEDURE AND COSTS

When you are happy with the property you have chosen and have decided to make an offer to rent the property introduced to you by Homes By Sophie, the following procedure and fees will apply.

Offer Monies - £500.00

These monies are payable to Homes by Sophie when you make an offer to rent a property as confirmation of your commitment to proceed should the offer be accepted. Should terms be agreed for a tenancy "subject to contract and satisfactory references"; these monies will be retained toward the Tenant's Administration Fees and Move in Monies which are payable in cleared funds prior to the commencement of the tenancy.

These monies are refundable if terms (in principle) for a tenancy are not agreed and will be refunded without delay or deduction. However should you withdraw for any reason or should your references prove to be unsatisfactory, these monies will be retained towards costs incurred by Homes by Sophie in proceeding with the proposed tenancy. Payment of these monies does not constitute the granting of a tenancy.

TENANT ADMINISTRATION FEES & "MOVE IN MONIES".

Once terms are agreed in principle:-

Referencing & ID - £80 per person or £100 for Company

Tenants are required to supply references and proof of identity for the Landlords consideration and approval. This is done with an external referencing company to enable full credit checks to be carried out alongside referencing from your previous Landlord and employers.

Tenancy Administration - £250.00

Tenancy Agreements will be produced by Homes by Sophie to protect and clarify the terms agreed for the tenancy for both the Landlord and the Tenant.

Inventory Check In Charge – cost available upon request.

Unless otherwise detailed in the Tenancy Agreement, you will be charged for the cost of the checking of the inventory of the Property at the start of the tenancy by an independent inventory company. The cost varies depending on the size and contents of the property. The Landlord will be responsible for the cost of the producing of the document and the checking of the inventory at the end of the tenancy. We strongly recommend you are present for both the checks of the inventory at the start and end of the tenancy.

Tenancy Addendum - £80.00

In the happy event, that you and the Landlord decided to extend the original term, an addendum to the principle agreement will be drafted detailing the new terms agreed and supplied to both the Landlord and Tenant for approval/acceptance.

For your peace of mind we are members of these Estate and Letting Agents Regulatory Bodies:

Property Redress Scheme

Property Redress Scheme

By law, Property Agents are required to join a government authorised consumer redress scheme. The purpose of this is to give consumers of the Property Agent an escalated complaints procedure if they are unhappy with how their complaint has been dealt with by the Agent.

www.theprs.co.uk/

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is the only professional body that is solely concerned with the self-regulation of letting agents and since 1981 has been actively promoting the highest standards across every aspect of residential lettings and management in the Private Rented Sector.

Association of Residential Letting Agents

Why Should A Landlord Or Tenant Seek Out An ARLA Member?

ARLA leads the industry in setting and regulating the highest standards in the industry and demands certain levels of professionalism and commitment to customer service from its membership.

ARLA members are required to work within a robust Code of Practice, which covers the key stages in letting and managing a property. There are comprehensive membership Byelaws which include compliance with such issues as handling and accounting for Clients' money; the mandatory ARLA Client Money Protection Bonding Scheme; Professional Indemnity Insurance; Dealing with Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures.

ARLA keeps it members up to date with changes in legislation and provides wide-ranging training and guidance to help members understand and interpret all aspects of letting and managing a property.

www.arla.co.uk/

London Rental Standard (LRS)

London Rental Standard (LRS)

The London Rental Standard (LRS) initiative is designed to raise professional standards in the capital’s private rented sector by providing a consistent benchmark of accreditation for consumers. LRS is a voluntary set of minimum standards that the Mayor of London expects of letting agents operating in London’s private rented sector.