Tenancy Deposit Advice
A deposit is collected from the tenant to safeguard against damage. At the end of the tenancy we will inspect the property and the costs of any work required will be deducted from the deposit.
As a landlord, it’s important that you ensure the tenants deposit is protected in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme within 30 days of receipt. The Housing Act 2004 came into effect on 6 April 2007, and made provision for the protection of tenancy deposits and the resolution of disputes over their return. All deposits taken for Assured Shorthold Tenancies after this date must be covered by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. Any disputes will be referred to the dispute resolution service of the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. It's worth noting this does not apply to Northern Ireland.
We are a SAFEagent.
Belvoir is a founding member of the pioneering SAFEagent scheme (www.safeagents.co.uk). SAFE (Safe Agent Fully Endorsed) represents firms that protect landlords’ and tenants’ money through a Client Money Protection Schemes.
Utility Bill Liabilities Advice
Generally, it is the tenants’ responsibility to make the payment of water rates, council tax, gas, electricity, telephone bills and the television licence. It might be a good idea to check that all the bills have switched into the tenants name as soon as your new tenants move in, otherwise you may receive some unexpected bills. At the end of the tenancy, the tenants are responsible for notifying the relevant service providers and local authority to ensure that the services are returned to the landlords’ name.
Gas Safety Regulation Advice
As a landlord, you have legal responsibilities for the safety of your tenants. A landlord must ensure that the property’s gas appliances and installations are properly maintained and are fully checked every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
You must keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to any new or existing tenant.
Belvoir are able to organise gas safety checks on behalf of landlords using specialised engineers. As your agent, it is essential that we are in possession of a copy of the valid gas safety certificate before we can release keys to a tenant for move-in.
Each time the property is let, an inventory report is taken before the start of a tenancy. The report is a detailed check-in and check-out inventory which is designed to provide you with a comprehensive report of your property, its condition, and its contents. It will serve as evidence of the condition of the property before the tenants move in. This way it will help to protect you if there are any disputes at the end of the tenancy.
Advice about the Landlord's Duty of Care
All landlords have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their tenant. Looking after a rental property should be taken very seriously, and landlords who neglect to maintain properties adequately may find themselves in breach of section 11, of the Landlord and Tenant Act. Landlords must take reasonable provisions to avoid supplying an unsafe environment for tenants. In the event of an incident in a property, the landlord must be able to demonstrate that they have provided a duty of care to their tenants. Electrical items can only be shown to be safe, if tested professionally and regularly. Landlords must also show that appliances are safe and furniture adheres to fire safety regulations. Landlords also have a legal duty to assess and control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria. In all cases a Legionella Risk Assessment must be carried out, depending on the result of the assessment, a Legionella Test may also be required.
It can be much more convenient for a landlord to have an agent to deal with maintenance issues. Under the terms of Belvoir’s full management service we can act on the landlord’s behalf and take swift action to resolve problems.
Under Self-Assessment, landlords are legally required to keep and retain records, enabling a tax return to be completed or to make a claim for relief. This legal requirement came into force in April 1997 and a penalty of up to £3000 can be charged for each year of assessment where there has been a failure to maintain adequate records. Belvoir is able to provide landlords with details of income and expenditure. Records regarding rental properties must be retained until the fifth anniversary of 31st January, following the year of assessment (ie five years 10 months).
Landlords should take independent financial advice from an accountant regarding this subject, as it can be complex and rules do change periodically. If you wish Belvoir to introduce you to a reputable accountant, please let us know.
Some important points to consider include:
- Landlords are now responsible for assessing their own tax.
- Income tax is payable on letting income whether the landlord lives in the UK or abroad. Expenses are only allowed if incurred during the letting period, but there are provisions for claiming expenses on an un-let property.
- For all lettings, the landlord can claim tax relief for maintenance, repairs, insurance, management fees, ground rent, and interest on a loan to purchase or improve the property. Mortgage interest can be used to offset against rental income to produce a greater tax saving.
- Landlords with furnished lettings may claim tax relief for insurance, repair of contents for reasonable wear and tear – either on a replacement basis or as a concessionary 10% of rental income.
- A landlord’s income from rented properties – furnished, unfurnished and holiday letting – is now lumped together and assessed under Schedule A. This pooling is not permitted with overseas properties, which are taxed under Schedule D. A reputable accountant will be able to help with this.
Property Management & Repairs Services
It is the landlords’ responsibility to ensure that the property is in good condition, with the exception of window glass or other breakages caused by the tenants.
If you are looking for trusted contractors to carry out work on your property, each Belvoir office has a database of expert contractors that we can call on to deal promptly and effectively with any emergencies and repairs. Belvoir only uses reputable, professional tradesmen and because we deal with them day in and day out, and pay them promptly, we are able to acquire their services much quicker and at better rates than an independent landlord is likely to achieve. Depending on your agreement with our offices, once the cost for maintenance is approved by the landlord, we can commission the work to be carried out.