Letting Process Guide

Accurate market appraisal
Choosing the right agent
Presenting your property
Furniture and Fittings
Marketing your property
Energy Performance Certificates
Viewings
Receiving an offer
References
Proceeding with the let
Tenancy agreement
Keys
Deposit
Safety Regulations
Gas
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Other regulations to be considered
Taxation
Taxation for Overseas Landlords
Renewals

 

Letting Process Step by Step Guide

Accurate market appraisal

Having confidence in your Estate Agent is vital.  We make a point of studying property values in our area very closely. Our team are highly knowledgeable and conduct market appraisals on a daily basis. Property valuations are based on our extensive local knowledge; current market trends and examples of recent property lettings in the area.

Choosing the right agent

The right agent will make a difference to how you enjoy the experience of renting your property. Dowling Styles have jargon-free plain language terms and conditions. We give you feedback and advice weekly. We regularly review the marketing of your property and keep you advised of the progress of the letting at all times. Our job is to find the right tenant for you and to protect your interests.

Presenting your property

Ideally keep all walls painted in a light, neutral colour. A new coat of paint prior to marketing the property will always help it to look fresh and welcoming.

Flooring: Carpets should be a neutral colour throughout. Wooden or high quality laminate floors are also a good option as they are durable, easy to clean and popular with tenants.

Common Hallways: These should be kept clean and tidy wherever possible, as first impressions are always important.

If there is a garden we recommend that it is cut back and in seasonal condition.

Clutter should be kept to a minimum in order to make the rooms seem as spacious as possible.

Beds should be fully made and kept tidy, even if you are not planning to let the property furnished.

Ensure all lights are working so that the flat/house looks as bright as possible.

In the wintertime please ensure that the heating is set to come on twice a day as a cold flat is undesirable.

Furniture and Fittings

If the property is going to be marketed as ‘fully furnished’ it would usually need to include:-

Bedroom furniture: beds, wardrobes, chest of drawers.

Sitting/dining room furniture: sofa, armchair, dining table and chairs.

White goods and a set of crockery, cutlery and basic kitchen appliances (e.g. toaster, kettle). A large fridge/freezer is always preferable along with a washer/dryer rather than just a washing machine.

A vacuum cleaner (if there are any carpets).

Curtains/blinds.

If the property is marketed as 'unfurnished' you would still be expected to provide all white goods and curtains/blinds.

Where possible make sure there is an overhead shower in the bathroom as this will certainly influence a potential tenant’s decision making.

Bedrooms need to have ample cupboard and drawer space.

Marketing your property

Your property will appear both in online as well as in more traditional advertising formats and magasines. Our properties appear on Rightmove, Primelocation and Zoopla amongst others, in addition to appearing our own website and many social media links including Facebook and Instagram, which are updated daily.

We make it easy for tenants to see the benefits of your property with our professional photography; floorplans; details of neaby amenities and local information including school catchment areas and helpful street views.

Energy Performance Certificates

Legislation introduced on 1st October 2008 requires all rental properties to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) commissioned prior to the property being placed on the market. Dowling Styles are pleased to arrange for an EPC to be issued on the Landlord's behalf.

An EPC advises all prospective tenants about the energy efficiency of a building and the certificate is similar to those now provided for domestic appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. The certificate is shown to tenants when they view your property.

All EPC’s come with a recommendation report to advise the landlord on any money-saving improvements which could be made to the property. The report is valid for 10 years and is a legal requirement for any property which is advertised for rental.

Viewings

Dowling Styles will accompany all applicants when showing your property either using keys provided by you or by arranging for a mutually convenient appointment to meet up with you at the premises.

Receiving an offer

When we receive an offer from the tenant, Dowling Styles will advise and guide you through any decision-making that may be necessary. The offer will be formally confirmed by Dowling Styles in writing.

An offer may be accepted subject to the signing of the contractual Tenancy Agremeent and upon receiving satisfactory references.

References

Upon receipt of an acceptable offer from the applicant, Dowling Styles will take up references using an independent Referencing Company. A credit reference report is prepared confirming the applicant's financial standing including bank and accountant's information; income and employment details, and previous landlord references (where appropriate). As soon as the applicant has past the referencing procedure,  references are sent to you for approval before we prepare the Tenancy Agreement.

Proceeding with the let

The following are required to be carried out before the commencement of any tenancy. Dowling Styles can provide you with an estimate of costs and organise on behalf of the Landlord:- 

  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Inventory
  • Professional clean and carpet clean
Tenancy agreement

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is provided by Dowling Styles which will clearly set out the full requirements and obligations of both landlord and tenant for the term of the tenancy.

In circumstances where a Landlord wishes to use a Tenancy Agreement drafted by his own solicitor, Dowling Styles must be supplied with the draft Tenancy at least two weeks before the tenancy is due to commence. Dowling Styles advise tenants to seek independent legal advice regarding the contents of such an agreement.

Keys

One set of keys will be required for each tenant.  If Dowling Styles manage the property we will require an extra set of keys.

Deposit

Dowling Styles will register the deposit with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme and you will be provided with full details of the Scheme.

The deposit monies are either held in an separate client account or are lodged in the government-regulated custodial scheme of The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS), depending upon circumstances. The deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy once any deductions for damage or default have been established and agreed between both landlord and tenant.

The landlord pays for the inventory make and inventory check-in at the beginning of the tenancy, and the tenant pays for the check out report at the end of the tenancy.

Dowling Styles can organise for an independent inventory clerk at the start of the tenancy to check and record all the contents and decorative condition of the property. Both tenant and landlord will receive a copy of this report to sign and approve.

At the end of the tenancy the inventory is checked against the current condition of the property and any discrepancies will be highlighted in a check-out Report, which is sent to both tenant and landlord to examine.

Any compensation for dilapidations and damage in excess of normal fair wear and tear are agreed by the negotiation between parties. Should a situation arise where there is no mutual agreement reached, then the landlord and tenant are able to apply to the The Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (ADR) in order to arbitrate on the amounts to be returned to each party. For further information on The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), click here.

This is a far more straightforward and cost effective way to agree sums in dispute than referring the matter for settlement in the County Court. 

Safety Regulations

The furniture and furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1997 requires that the cover fabric and filling material of upholstered furniture be made of fire resistant material and be able to pass the “smouldering cigarette” and “match flame” resistance test.

Most furniture made after 1990 is compliant with these regulations and must be verified by appropriate labels permanently affixed.

The regulations apply to all soft furnishings including:

  • Sofas and armchairs
  • Cushions, seat pads, bean bags
  • Beds, padded headboards, mattresses, pillows
  • Convertible sofa beds, futons
  • Loose and stretch covers for upholstered furniture
  • Nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for outdoor use

Items of furniture which are exempt from the regulations include:

  • Antique furniture or furniture made prior to 1950
  • Carpets and curtains
  • Pillow cases, duvets, bed linen
  • Loose covers for mattresses

Any item which does not comply should be removed from the property prior to the commencement of a tenancy.

Gas

It is a criminal offence to let a premises with gas appliances, installation and pipe-work that have not been checked by a "Gas Safe" Registered Engineer. No tenancy can commence until Dowling Styles are in receipt of a valid Gas Safety Certificate.

The Gas Safety Regulations Act 1994 applies to all gas appliances and equipment including mains, propane or calor gas. It requires that:-

The landlord of the property must have a gas safety certificate carried out prior to the commencement of the tenancy by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer, suitably qualified to work on the appliances/systems installed.

A copy of the gas certificate must be given to the tenant at the commencement of tenancy.

The "Gas Safe" check will relate to:

  • Adequate ventilation and flues
  • Operating pressures
  • Heat output
  • Flame combustion
  • Escape of gas or dangerous fumes
  • Obvious defects
  • Where appropriate, the provision of adequate instructions for use of equipment or appliances
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

In October 2015 new regulations came into force and all Landlords are now required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as covered in Section 150 of the Energy Act 2013.

Electricity

The landlord has an obligation to ensure that any electrical items supplied as part of a property letting are checked regularly and are "safe", i.e. not dangerous and fully compliant with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

The landlord is responsible for providing instruction books and operating manuals for all items of electrical equipment provided in the property, and for ensuring that all electrical appliances comply with the Regulations.

Equipment or wiring which is deemed to be unsafe may include:-

  • Badly frayed or damaged insulation
  • Old or exposed wires, poorly fitted or cracked plugs
  • Scorch-marked or badly damaged sockets
  • Plugs without sleeved insulated pins

Anything which is identified as being potentially unsafe should be replaced immediately with equipment which complies with both BS and EC standards.

Other regulations to be considered

Head Lessor: If you have a leasehold property it is likely that your head lease will require you to obtain permission from the head lessor to sub-let the property. In relation to some developments in this area and the surrounding areas, you may need to apply for a licence to sub-let. 

Mortgage Lender: Consent is usually required from your mortgage lender if you plan to let out your property.

Insurance Provider: It is essential that the premises and contents included in the Inventory and Schedule of Condition are adequately insured and that your insurers are aware that the premises are being let. Failure to do so may invalidate your insurance policy. You must inform your insurers whenever the premises remain vacant for a period greater than that specified in your insurance policy (normally 30 days). You should also check that your insurance policy includes third party liability to protect you in the event that a tenant or a visitor to the premises suffers personal injury.

Taxation

You will be liable for tax on rental income and you must inform the Inland Revenue that you are letting the property. There are a number of allowances and tax reliefs that you can claim against your rental income.

Dowling Styles are fortunate to benefit from having our own in-house tax consultant who can offer you some guidance or alternatively, you can seek advice from your accountant or from the Inland Revenue website.

You are best advised to keep all your invoices and rental statements for a period of six years for tax purposes. You should also be aware that all Letting Agents in the UK may be asked to provide the Inland Revenue with provide details of our landlords rental income, irrespective of their country of residence.

Taxation for Overseas Landlords

The Inland Revenue has special rules regarding the collection of tax on rental income from landlords who are resident overseas, or who subsequently move abroad. If you fall into this category it is your responsibility to obtain a tax approval number from the Inland Revenue by completing form NRL1. The relevant form and guidance notes can be downloaded from the above website.

Until the approval number is given to us by the Inland Revenue, Dowling Styles are legally obliged to deduct basic rate tax from your net rental income at the prevailing rate, currently 20%. These deductions are sent to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis.

If the tenant pays you direct and you have not received an approval from the Inland Revenue on form NRL8 after properly completing form NRL1, then the tenant is required to pay your rent less 20% tax, which he accounts to the Inland Revenue on your behalf. No one is exempt from this scheme.

Renewals

Towards the end of the initial fixed term of the tenancy, Dowling Styles will contact you to find out if the tenancy should be renewed and to agree any renewal instructions. Dowling Styles will review the rent and advise you whether a rent increase is possible or desirable, depending upon current market conditions. You must confirm with us in writing if you wish to renew the tenancy or end the tenancy by serving formal Notice. Dowling Styles do not serve Notice on the tenant unless you instruct us in writing to do so.