You will be asked to pay a reservation fee which then secures the property for you to move into, subject to you passing referencing and then moving in within a reasonable time frame (see Information for Tenants). Each tenant and Guarantor will have to pay a referencing fee. In addition to this, you will be asked to pay a deposit or bond for the property, which is often higher than one month’s rent. If rented under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, this money will be registered with a government approved ‘tenancy deposit scheme’. You will receive official information which will explain the scheme, including how you reclaim your money at the end of your tenancy.
A fixed fee will be agreed with you in advance for the work involved in your sale or purchase. In rare circumstances, additional work may be required which would not normally form part of the house buying/selling process. Should this situation occur, you will be kept fully informed at all times and any additional fee would be agreed with you in advance.
Check on the landlord’s rules: no smoking and no pets are common. Often landlords are unable to accept tenants on benefits and some restrict children. If in doubt, ask. Some landlords may agree to relax their rules if you can prove that you will be a good, responsible tenant.
The age of a property does not normally affect the legal work involved in buying or selling. However, there are different issues that are more relevant to newer properties that often need to be considered. Similarly, if a property has been altered or extended (whatever its age), investigations into the planning history are required.
As a Landlord of a domestic property then you have a duty under the Defective Premises Act 1972 to take reasonable care to see that tenants and visitors are safe from personal injury or disease caused by a defect in the state of the premises, which whilst not specifically mentioned, should include asbestos.
It is the landlord’s duty to ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and they can be prosecuted for failing to do so. A landlord can be guilty of a criminal offence if anyone is exposed to a risk from asbestos. If a landlord has any doubts regarding asbestos he must ensure that he employs a competent contractor to carry out a risk assessment and any repairs or other works. It is the Landlord’s responsibility to ensure that that the contractor is competent to undertake any works on his behalf. Any information about the presence of asbestos known to the landlord must be passed onto the contractor.
In all residential premises, any landlord who commissions repair or construction work has to comply with CDM Regulations which include an obligation to notify the present tenant of asbestos where the landlord is aware of this. A landlord who is an employer or who is self-employed must ensure that the Control of Asbestos Regulations are complied with in the case of domestic premises, including common parts. Any contractor must also comply with these Regulations. These Regulations require that a risk assessment is carried out before any work is started to see if asbestos is presence and to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken to deal with asbestos which is present.
With regards to communal areas of non-domestic premises’ special rules which include the common areas of blocks of flats and bedsits. These additional requirements however do not apply to individual self- contained units such as flats or single dwellings. Whether or not work is to be done, the landlord is obliged to carry out investigations as to whether or not asbestos is present in the common parts. If it is there they are required to monitor its condition as well as putting control measures in place. Anyone who may be at risk as a result (e.g. a contractor carrying out work) must be notified of the presence of asbestos. The measures must be kept under review, at least annually.
A leasehold property can be bought in the same way as a freehold property can. Mortgage lenders are fine with leasehold properties as long as there is a sufficient term left on the lease period, each lender is different but typically around 70 years at the outset of the mortgage or no shorter than 35 years at the end of the mortgage term.
It is not recommend that you exchange contracts without first receiving a formal mortgage offer but, ultimately, the decision to do so will rest with you. Your deposit monies will be at risk should you not be able to obtain a mortgage offer in time for completion.
We do not advise putting in an offer on a property until you have had an offer on your own. As you will not know exactly how much your property will sell for, it is also unlikely someone will take their property off the market until you have a buyer for yours.
We are committed to providing high quality services and operate a complaints handling procedure, a copy of which is available on request from our reception. If we cannot resolve the matter for you, we are members of The Property Ombudsman scheme and you can ask the Ombudsman to consider your complaint.
The Property Ombudsman Service Milford House, 43-55 Milford Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2BP
Tel: 01722 333 306
On letting the property you will be required to pay a deposit, which will be a sum equivalent to six weeks rent or a sum agreed by the landlord at their discretion. The deposit will be held in accordance with the legal requirements on tenancy deposits and we will provide you with full details of how the deposit is held in the Tenancy Agreement. The deposit is held against decay or damage outside of the usual wear and tear. At the end of the tenancy and in accordance with your lease agreement, you will be required to agree the dilapidations with us or the landlord.
The tenancy agreement cannot commence until full payment has been received.
The Act was passed in March 2015 and, in relation to tenancies, principally covers the areas of:
1. Energy Performance Certificates
2. Tenancy Deposit Protection
3. Section 21 Notices and Disrepair
Energy Performance Certificates
From the 1st July 2015, all landlords will need to provide tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a Gas Safety Certificate before the tenancy begins. If at a later date the landlord wants to serve a Section 21 Notice on the tenant, s/he will need to prove that the tenant has been provided with an EPC and a Gas Safety Certificate or s/he will be prevented from serving a Section 21 Notice.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
The landlord will be prevented from service a Section 21 Notice unless the appropriate information regarding tenancy deposit protection has been provided to the tenant.
The Deregulation Act 2015 clarifies some ambiguities relating to tenancy deposit protection which were not fully spelt out in the Housing Act 2004 and which were subsequently considered and ruled on in the Superstrike case and Ng v Charalambous. The Act has introduced a number of different measures which cover different scenarios.
A. If a landlord of a fixed term tenancy which started before April 2007 and then became a periodic tenancy after April 2007 (the Superstrike position), has not protected the deposit and given the prescribed information to the tenant by the 23 June 2015, then that landlord will not be able to do it afterwards and s/he will have to return the deposit to the tenant in order to serve a valid section 21 Notice.
B. If a fixed term tenancy started before April 2007 and became a periodic tenancy before April 2007 (the Ng v Charalambous position), a landlord must protect the deposit and serve the prescribed information on the tenant before serving a section 21 Notice. S/he can protect the deposit and serve the prescribed information at any time and there are no penalties for late compliance, but it has to be done before serving a section 21 Notice.
C. If a fixed term tenancy which started after April 2007 and has been subsequently renewed or become a periodic tenancy and the landlord protected the deposit and served the prescribed notice during the first term, the landlord no longer has to re-protect the deposit or re-serve the prescribed information. If the landlord did not protect the deposit and served the prescribed information during the first term, then he will need to return the deposit to the tenant before s/he serves a section 21 Notice.
Section 21 Notices
There are two main changes to Section 21 Notices – one in relation to the form and length of the Notice and the other in response to retaliatory evictions.
1. Form of Notice
From 1st July 2015
There are currently two types of Section 21 Notice: a section 21(b)(b) Notice, which is used during a fixed term tenancy, and a section 21(4)(a) Notice, which is used during a periodic tenancy or when a fixed term becomes periodic. Going forward, if the tenancy originated with a fixed term you can now use one type of Notice, regardless of whether it is currently fixed or periodic.
The more complex section 21(4) Notice only needs to be served if there has never been a fixed term or if the periodic tenancy is contractual (i.e. if it is there because the tenancy agreement says so).
The Deregulation Act will also take away the requirement to give the “last day of a period of the tenancy” in a section 21(4) notice.
From 1st October 2015
In addition to the changes in the types of section 21 Notice to be used, there is now a limited life span for the Notice. From 1st October 2015, a landlord will not be able to serve a section 21 Notice during the first 4 months of the originating tenancy and the Notice will only last for 6 months from the date of service. If the landlord does not issue possession proceedings during the 6 months from the date of service, s/he will need to serve a fresh notice and then wait for it to expire. This comes into effect for all new tenancies created after 1 October 2015 and will apply to all tenancies regardless of their start date from October 2018.
Other new changes, in England only, coming into effect under the Act.
There will be a prohibition on serving a section 21 Notice if a landlord has failed to give the tenant prescribed information, which is not currently known, although will probably be a statement of the tenant’s rights.
There will be a requirement that a landlord will be required to refund a proportionate part of any rent paid in advance if the tenant leaves early after service of a section 21 Notice.
2. Retaliatory evictions, health & safety and condition of premises
As from the 1st October 2015, the Deregulation Act will impose new conditions on landlords to ensure the health and safety of tenants within assured shorthold tenancies before a valid section 21 Notice can be served. Notices will be invalid in the following circumstances.
If it is served aftera tenant serves a written complaint about the condition of their rented property and the landlord fails to provide an adequate response. An adequate response is one provided within 14 days, specifying the proposed remedial action to be taken.
If the tenant then goes to the Local Authority and complains and they serve a 'relevant notice' on the landlord or carry out emergency remedial action then until the works are carried out and signed off by the local authority, the landlord will not be able to validly serve a section 21 Notice.
A relevant notice is basically an improvement notice or a notice regarding remedial action being taken by the Local Authority.
There are exceptions if:
It was the tenant who caused the damage to the property being complained about, and/or the property is genuinely on the market for sale (but this must be the open market and there must not be any intention to sell to a connected party).
The same rules will also apply to the common parts of a building (for example stairs and hallways outside rented flats) if the landlord had a 'controlling interest' and the condition of the common parts affected the tenants use of his/her rented property.
If no written complaint from a tenant has been received before a landlord serves a section 21 Notice, then it will not be affected by the above provisions.
Yes. You have a legal duty to maintain the structure and exterior of the property and make arrangements for heating and sanitation. The tenant is responsible for repairing broken items and keeping the property clean and tidy.
No. We require 14 days written notice if you decide to take your property off the market. If you decide to change agents, please speak to us before signing any other agreements as you could be liable for two fees.
Whether or not SDLT is payable on your purchase will depend on various factors, including the purchase price and whether or not you own any other properties. Please contact Emsleys Solicitors’ conveyancing team via email or by calling 0113 264 4414 for a full quote on any purchase.
Yes. You are required by law to register the deposit with a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). The TDS is intended to facilitate the resolution of disputes that may arise between you and the tenant. We are happy to register the deposit on your behalf. We are registered with The Dispute Service.
You will need to appoint a solicitor to undertake the legal process of buying the property – this is called ‘legal conveyancing’. There are a number of factors you may want to consider when selecting your solicitor including the quality of service they offer, the speed and efficiency in progressing your purchase and their experience and knowledge. Personal recommendation is always a good place to start. It is a good idea to contact a few companies as you will get a better feel for the solicitor when you speak to them on the phone.
Yes. Your property must have a Gas Safety Certificate which needs to be renewed annually. As a landlord you have a duty of care to your tenant and we recommend that all appliances and installations are regularly checked and serviced.
No. Our fees are payable on exchange of contracts but are in practice paid on completion. The only thing you will need to pay for upfront is your EPC, if you do not already have one.
There are no legal requirements on furnishings but, in general, an unfurnished property will have carpets, light fittings and a cooker, whilst city apartments will have all furniture, including pots and pans and TVs. When you view the property, check the fixtures and fittings, and ensure the property has smoke alarms on all habitable levels and a carbon monoxide detector where there is solid fuel. Make sure you are happy with the property before renting it.
No, Emsleys Solicitors can efficiently deal with property sales and purchases throughout England and Wales.
Should your sale or purchase not proceed to completion, Emsleys Solicitors will look to agree a reasonable fee with you for the work done on your behalf, which enables their fixed fee prices to remain as low and competitive as possible.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulation 1994.
The regulations require that all electrical appliances are safe and impose on the landlord an obligation to ensure that all appliances and installations are regularly checked and serviced.
A landlord or his agent has a duty of care to ensure that they have taken all necessary precautions to avoid supplying the tenant with an unsafe item. It is necessary to carry out regular visual inspection of all electrical plugs, sockets, leads, appliances and goods and any that are faulty must be removed and replaced.
Although there is no statutory requirement to have annual safety checks carried out on electrical equipment as there is with gas, we recommend that landlords have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician. We would also recommend that landlords arrange for electrical equipment to be PAT tested on a tenant changeover.
Failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence and may result in fines and custodial sentences.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is rented. You must order an EPC for potential tenants before you market your property to rent. This must be made available to tenants if they express an interest in letting your property as it is classed as material information about the property along with knowledge of the Council Tax Banding.
An EPC contains:
1. Information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs.
2. Recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.
An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.
The Government is proposing that from April 2018, it will be illegal to let any property with an energy performance rating of F and G. Landlords have until 2018 to ensure their properties have an energy performance rating of at least an E. Various bodies and organisations are working with the Government and have been tasked with devising recommendations on the implementation of the 2018 regulations.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet fire resistant requirements.
The furniture covered by the legislation includes:
1. Sofas, settees, seat pads, bean bags.
2. Beds, futons, head boards, pillows.
3. Loose and stretch covers for furniture.
4. Garden Furniture suitable for use in a dwelling.
5. Nursery furniture
The regulations do not apply to:
1. Antique furniture or furniture made before 1950.
2. Bedcovers including duvets, loose mattresses, pillowcases or sleeping bags.
Items that comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Any non-compliant items must be removed before letting the property.
The maintenance of the garden is the responsibility of the tenant. It is usual however for a landlord to be responsible for larger trees and shrubs, this should be defined in the Tenancy Agreement.
Since 1 April 2009 landlords must ensure that anyone carrying out work on gas appliances at their property (including flues) are registered on the Gas Safety Register.
If an engineer, who carries out a check of a gas appliance, is not on the Gas Safety Register, residential landlords are in breach of Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 as well as the Building Regulations 2000. It will not be enough that the engineer is CORGI Registered. Non-compliance is a criminal offence and courts can impose unlimited fines and custodial sentences. A link to the Gas Safety Register is shown below.
The Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.
The legislation requires that all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be tested annually for safety by a competent engineer. Failure to comply with the regulations can result in a substantial fine or even, in the worst cases, imprisonment.
Only businesses with duly qualified engineers registered on the Gas Safety Register can carry out work on gas appliances and piping. Records of inspections must be made and kept and a copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to the Tenant before the tenancy can commence as well as any future checks of the appliances within 28 days of the check being completed. It is good practice to keep maintenance records in order to be able to show regular maintenance and necessary repairs have been undertaken. "Gas Appliances" include any fitted gas appliance such as gas heaters, cookers and fires as well as central heating systems.
The Housing Act of 2004 allows the local authorities in England and Wales to assess housing conditions. Special rules apply to the letting of houses where there are a number of individual occupiers who do not form part of a household. An HMO in broad terms can be summarised as either:
A building (house) or part of a building (flat) in which live two or more households, comprising of three or more people (as their only residence) who share one or more basic amenities and for which rent is paid by at least one person for that occupation.
A building or part of a building which has been converted into and consists of self-contained flats but was not converted to the 1991 Building Regulations and still does not comply with them and less than two thirds of the self-contained flats are owner occupied.
In July 2006 new laws came into effect making licensing compulsory for HMO's that comprise of 3 or more storeys and have 5 or more occupants. The licensing is carried out by the local authority. Each authority has the power to set its own licence fees and make its own specific fitness requirements and standards. They will generally carry out a health and safety assessment of the property and take into account safe escape routes, fire alarm systems, proper amenities and standards of maintenance and repair.
The local authority has powers to ensure that the Landlord makes improvements where necessary.
To grant a license the local authority must be satisfied that the properties and tenancies are managed appropriately, the accommodation meets all minimum standards and that the proposed license holder, the landlord or managing agent are "fit and proper" people. Licenses may be issued with conditions attached such as landlord training and cannot be transferred to another person.
Penalties for breaching conditions of the licence or for operating an HMO without a licence can be a fine of up to £20,000 and any section 21 issued is invalidated until a licence is obtained and/or a tribunal can order that rent be repaid to tenants (in extreme cases).
For more information and a downloadable copy of an HMO license application go to www.leeds.gov.uk. Alternatively you can email email@example.com or telephone Leeds HMO licensing team on 0113 247 6248.
For further information on mandatory HMO licensing and to identify whether a property needs licensing you can visit: www.gov.uk/private-renting/houses-in-multiple-occupation.
From 1 October 2006, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 also began to apply to HMOs. Under the Order, a 'responsible person' must carry out a fire risk assessment of the shared parts. A responsible person is anyone who has control of the premises; or a degree of control over certain areas. In these circumstances this is likely to be the landlord; although this responsibility may be delegated to a competent person. However, legal responsibility would always rest with the landlord in the event of any contravention under the order.
We recommend that landlords review their fire risk assessment annually. Details of the requirements of the fire risk assessment can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/regulatoryreformfire.
Under an AST, the tenant has the right to occupy the property and if the landlord wants the property back, s/he must follow the procedure laid down by statute, whereby s/he provides at least two months’ notice of their requirement to take back the property. This can be done either 4 months into a fixed term or at any time during a periodic tenancy. A tenant must give at least one month’s notice to end a tenancy at the conclusion of the fixed term or, if running periodically, from the day of the month on which the tenancy was signed. For example, if the tenancy was signed on the 2nd of the month, one month’s notice must be given from the 2nd of any month.
Please either ask us to arrange a costs quote for you or you can contact Emsleys Solicitors direct via email or by calling the conveyancing team on 0113 264 4414 for a full quotation.
Properties are usually let for a minimum period of six months, although you can agree other timescales if you wish.
Ask whether the property is to be let for a long or short-term. There is usually a fixed term of 6 or 12 months, but if you wish to have more security you may ask for a longer fixed term.
Once you know what your budget is you can start viewing properties. Viewing a property can take anything from 10 minutes to half an hour, but don’t be afraid to take longer and ask as many questions as possible. We always recommend a second viewing as there may be things which you didn’t spot initially.
Your solicitors will always discuss with you the approximate length of time it will take to complete the process. This can vary depending on the number of sales involved in the chain, surveys, enquiries and mortgage offers, but the average time is between 6-12 weeks, although it can sometimes be quicker.
Your solicitor will discuss with you the approximate length of time it will take to complete the process. This can vary depending on the chains (upward and downward buyers and sellers) involved, surveys and enquiries, but the average time is between 6 and 12 weeks.
The timescales involved in buying and selling a house vary greatly from property to property and your conveyancer will always discuss with you the approximate length of time it will take to complete the process. However, the sale or purchase of a freehold house usually takes approximately 6 to 12 weeks to complete once the contract papers have been issued to the buyer’s solicitors, but this can vary depending on the number of sales involved in the chain, surveys, enquiries and mortgage offers. The sale or purchase of a leasehold flat involves further legal documentation and communication with additional third parties and would therefore take, on average, approximately 8 to 12 weeks to complete.
Assess your income and current outgoings and decide how much you can afford to spend on rent. You must also remember to factor in council tax, utility bills, a TV licence, water rates, telecommunications and contents insurance in your budget. Look for properties within your budget – you may need look at new areas if your first choice of location proves to be too expensive. If you are claiming benefits, check that your allowance is sufficient to rent the property.
A deposit of 10% of the purchase price is normally paid on exchange of contracts, but if you are in a chain of sales and purchases, the deposit received on your sale may be used on the purchase. If you have any questions about this, your conveyancer will always discuss this with you at the outset of the transaction.
Emsleys Solicitors offers competitively priced fixed fees for all conveyancing services, providing excellent value for money. Please contact the conveyancing team via email or by calling 0113 264 4414 for a personalised quotation and breakdown of costs.
We will need to visit your property to assess your requirements, establish who your property is likely to appeal to and agree how much rent we think is achievable.
When you find a property that meets your requirements it is time to make an offer. The main thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be frightened to make ANY offer, even if it is below the asking price, as some sellers are willing to negotiate.
Your solicitor will be able to inform you of the Stamp Duty you will need to pay if applicable or you can visit www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax for further information.
There are a number of fees to be paid when moving home. These include estate agency fees and any disbursements (for example, the cost of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)), legal conveyancing fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax where applicable.
Our estate agency fees are competitive and will be agreed with you following the valuation of your property.
We can also offer a seamless, hassle-free home sale and legal conveyancing service in association with our award-winning sister company Emsleys Solicitors. For ease and peace of mind, the legal conveyancing service is charged at a fixed fee.
You can authorise your solicitors to speak to and take instructions from a third party on your behalf. You may also appoint an Attorney to sign the legal documentation on your behalf. However, with the benefit of modern technology, this may not be necessary.
Due to money laundering regulations, we are required to confirm the identification of persons wishing to rent a property. To do this we require two forms of identification for each tenant:
- Photographic identification (Passport or Driving Licence)
- Proof of address (utility bill, bank statement dated within the last 3 months)
Your identification must be the original copies and you must provide it in person. For more information regarding identification, please contact the branch.
From 1 February 2016, all landlords will need to check that someone has the right to live in the UK before letting a property to them. This includes landlords who take in lodgers or sub-let property.
In most cases you’ll be able to carry out the checks without contacting the Home Office. All you need to do is check evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship, for example a passport or biometric residence permit.
The right to rent checks currently only apply to the following but may be rolled out countrywide in due course:
1. Landlords, homeowners and letting agents in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton
2. All adults aged 18 and over living at the property
3. New tenancy agreements starting on or after 1 December 2014
If you let a property after this date to someone who doesn’t have the right to rent, you could be fined up to £3,000.
For more information please visit the government website: www.gov.uk/government/collections/landlords-immigration-right-to-rent-checks.
We carry both Professional Indemnity Insurance and Client Money Protection Insurance. In the unlikely event that you need details of our insurance, please request details from our reception and we will write to you within 14 days.
The occupants are responsible for insuring their possessions within the property.
Many landlords require that the tenant has adequate contents insurance before allowing the tenancy agreement to be signed. If this is the case please discuss the matter with Emsleys Estate Agents.
In cases where Emsleys Estate Agents are managing the property on behalf of the landlord, an inventory will be given to you at the start of the tenancy. You will be asked to check its contents and return it to us within four days. Should the inventory not be returned, the copy issued will be held to be a true and accurate reflection of the property and it will be this inventory on which all subsequent inspections are conducted.
In cases of our ‘Let Only’ service the landlord will give you an inventory of the property and inform you of the check-in and check-out procedures.
You will be asked to provide ID (ideally a passport and a utility bill or bank statement) so that your identity and immigration status can be verified. In addition to this, you will be asked to provide information to our referencing agency, who will check your credit history, income level and contact your previous landlord. If you are self-employed, they may require information from your Accountant (see Information for Tenants).
The tie-in period is as per your initial agency agreement. After this, we will continue to market the property unless you advise us otherwise.
All residential properties which are rented out must now have a risk assessment undertaken to determine the risk of Legionella.
Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by Legionella bacteria including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease which is potentially a fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age but some people are at higher risk including:
1. People over 45 years of age
2. Smokers and heavy drinkers
3. People suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
4. Those with diabetes, lung and heart disease
5. Anyone with an impaired immune system
The bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They may also be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools.
Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems, e.g. rivers and ponds. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to Legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth.
Carrying out a risk assessment is your responsibility and will help you to establish any potential risks and implement measures to either eliminate or control risks.
To identify the risks in your water system you, or a competent person who understands your water systems and any associated equipment, should establish any possible exposure to Legionella risks, as part of a risk assessment.
Your risk assessment should include:
1. Management responsibilities, including the name of the competent person and a description of your system;
2. Any potential risk sources;
3. Any controls currently in place to control risks;
4. Monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures;
5. Records of the monitoring results, inspection and checks carried out;
6. A review date.
If you decide that the risks are insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, your assessment is complete. You will not need to take any further action, but it is important to review your assessment periodically in case anything changes in your system.
Domestic hot and cold water systems can provide an environment where Legionella bacteria can grow. This can cause Legionnaires Disease which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella bacteria.
We are providing you with this information to ensure that you keep yourself safe and reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
You must make sure that:
1. Hot water in the system remains hot
2. Cold water is kept cold
3. The water is kept circulated
It is important that you:
1. Do not interfere with the settings on your boiler or hot water system. The hot water should be set so that the water is heated up to 60°C.
Tell your landlord if:
1. The cold water is still running warm after you have initially run off any water which may have accumulated in the pipes. It should not be above 20°C.
2. There are any problems, debris or discolouration in the water.
3. The boiler or hot water tank is not working properly, particularly if the water is not coming out of the taps at a sufficiently high temperature. It should come out at a temperature of 50°C after it has run for a minute at the most.
Where showers are fitted:
1. If they are used only occasionally then flush them through by running them for at least two minutes every week. Keep as far away as possible whilst this is being done.
2. Clean the shower head periodically, descale and disinfect it. This should be done at least every six months.
Where a property is left vacant for any time make sure that when it is occupied again at the outset both hot and cold water systems are flushed through by running all outlets for at least 2 minutes.
It is your landlord’s responsibility to take precautions to prevent Legionella being present in the hot or cold water system but tenants and residents also have an important part to play in taking these simple and practical precautions.
Landmark case ruling now means that landlords and lettings agents have added responsibilities on repairs of their properties. It has always been that landlords and lettings agents were not liable to carry out repairs on outside areas of their tenants’ accommodation; (common halls, pathways, gardens etc.) and that repairs are carried out when their tenants inform them of a problem. Now this is no longer the case due to a Court of Appeal ruling on the Edwards vs. Kumarasamy case.
In Section 11 of the Landlords and Tenant Act 1985, the landlord has a legal duty to ensure that the rented ‘home’ of the tenant(s) and its exterior are maintained in a good and safe state. However in this case the tenant, Mr. Edwards who lived in a flat owned by landlord Mr. Kumarasamy, fell over a paving stone that was not level when on his way outside to put his rubbish in the common area for dustbins and car park, and was injured. He sued the landlord for damages and was awarded compensation. The ruling on the case now means that landlords are liable for repairs, even in areas outside the property that they do not own. These areas include any area that the landlord has a right of access to, a private drive for the property and communal areas in blocks of flats etc.
Tenants do not have to report any problems so all landlords and lettings agents must be on the alert for likely problems and take the necessary actions.
A maximum of 4 tenants will be considered for one property unless an agreement has been made prior to any viewings. All tenants wishing to live at the property must be named and have signed the Tenancy Agreement.
When Emsleys Estate Agents are the managing agent for the property, rent will be paid by standing order. If there are multiple tenants, private arrangements need to be made so that rent is paid via one standing order. We will not accept payment from an individual not named on the agreement.
All tenants are jointly responsible for rental payments and unless agreed under a release clause each tenant is committed to paying the full rent for the entire term.
Where the tenant(s) wishes to make a payment of rent in advance, we will require the tenant(s) to provide proof of the funds along with their identification documents, in order to satisfy our obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations. If you are unable to provide evidence that you have the funds available and evidence of your identity, we may not be able to complete the tenancy.
Unless agreed otherwise under the terms of the tenancy, tenants are usually required to pay the following from the start of the tenancy:
- Council tax to the local authority
- Water rates to the named supplier
- Gas to the named supplier
- Electricity to the named supplier
- Telecom services
Before a tenancy can begin it is necessary for each applicant to obtain a reference. Upon verifying that the applicant is over 18 years old, Emsleys Estate Agents will undertake references through an external referencing agency. The referencing costs are:
- Each Individual: £120.00
- Guarantor: £120.00
- Company: £120.00
- Overseas clients: £120.00
All costs are inclusive of VAT and non-refundable.
If you have not been living at the same address for more than 6 months, working in same company for more than 6 months, or you are in a job with low earnings, a guarantor may be required to support the application for tenancy. The guarantor will be required to sign a legal agreement accepting liability if the tenant is unable to meet the obligations of their tenancy agreement.
Regrettably we are unable to process applicants on housing benefit unless supported by a guarantor or otherwise agreed with the Landlord.
If a tenant is not required to be referenced, an administration fee of £60.00 per person will still be charged. This payment is non-refundable, unless the landlord decides not to proceed with the letting.
You will be informed on signing the tenancy agreement who you should contact if maintenance and repairs are required at the property. Please be aware that tenants are responsible for minor tasks such as changing light bulbs, vacuum cleaner filters and bags. Under the agreement the tenant may be responsible for the cost of repairs or replacements when they have acted carelessly or in a negligent manner.
Subject to references, an amount of £200 must be given to us so that we may secure the property on your behalf. This will then be placed towards the rent payable of the tenancy. Should you decide not to proceed with the letting or your references are unsatisfactory the monies are non-refundable. The money will be refunded in cases where the landlord decides not to proceed with the letting.
It is a legal requirement from the 1st February 2016 for all Landlords / Agents to check a tenant(s) has the legal right to live in the UK. Therefore, we must conduct checks on all applicants who will be residing at the property or on any changes to the tenancy e.g. should a partner move into a property at a later stage. Please remember you must seek consent for another person to move into the property.
We will need to see original copies of documents to be able to prove your status and you will need to bring these to the office for verification. The check will be conducted by our referencing company. Documents such as your passport will be required.
You will be unable to take up a tenancy until such checks have been undertaken so please allow time for this when choosing a move in date.
Fee for Right to Rent Checks – a charge of £12.00 Inc. VAT per person will be required for the Right to Rent Checks. This is payable on reservation of a property.
We advise all our clients to look at properties they are interested in, so that when they get an offer on their property they don't have to start from scratch.
From the 1st October 2015, subject to Parliamentary approval, regulations require both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation. Changes are also made to the licence requirements in relation to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), such as shared houses and bedsits which require a licence and also in relation to properties which are subject to selective licensing.
This Guidance is based on draft regulations which have been published. The Regulations apply both to houses and flats and only apply in England; not Wales.
These duties apply to residential premises which means premises all or part of which comprise a dwelling. Thus, it will apply to a flat over a shop. If the property is a licensed HMO or subject to selective licensing there are mandatory conditions imposed on licences. In the case of a licensed HMO or where there is a selective licensing it is the responsibility of the licence holder to ensure that mandatory conditions imposed in relation to the installation of alarms are complied with.
The premises must be let under a specified tenancy or a licence. This is a tenancy or licence of residential premises which grants one or more persons the right to occupy premises as their only or main residence. Rent or a licence fee must be payable.
The requirements are imposed on the immediate landlord. There is an exemption for providers of social housing. A tenancy includes a licence to occupy a residential premises and it also extends to subletting for these purposes.
There are various exemptions:
1. A tenancy under which the occupier shares any accommodation with the landlord or a member of the landlord's family. There must be a sharing of an amenity which includes a toilet, personal washing facilities, a kitchen or a living room but excludes any reference to storage or access.
2. A tenancy which is a long lease or which grants a right of occupation of the premises, i.e. for more than 21 years.
3. Student halls of residence.
5. Care homes.
7. Accommodation relating to health care provision.
During any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 while the premises are occupied under a tenancy (or licence) the landlord must ensure that a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. A living room will include a lounge dining room and kitchen as well as a bathroom or toilet. It also includes a hall or landing. This means that a smoke alarm must be provided in working order on each storey. Since the regulation relates to each storey in the premises this suggests that a separate alarm is not needed on a half landing as these would not be regarded as individually being a storey. As regards individual flats located on one floor then there will have to be at least one alarm within the flat itself or alternatively are provided outside the flat on the same floor of the building, i.e. a communal alarm.
Likewise, for flats comprising more than one storey there will need to be a smoke alarm on each floor.
It is the location of an alarm which sounds which is crucial; not the positioning of detectors.
The Regulations do not stipulate what kind of alarm is required. Ideally it should be a hard wired alarm system. It can, however, be a single standalone alarm. Landlords are recommended to fit ten year long life non-tamper proof alarms, otherwise there is a problem of batteries being taken out and not being replaced.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Likewise, during any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 when the premises are occupied under a tenancy or a licence a carbon monoxide alarm must be provided by the landlord in any room in premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. This applies to any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It will also extend to equipment such as a solid fuel Aga in the kitchen.
This is already a requirement with new installations of solid fuel burning combustion appliances as under Building Regulations there is a requirement to install a carbon monoxide alarm. This is now extended to any existing appliances already in place before Building Regulations imposed this requirement or where building regulations are not observed.
The landlord is specifically required to carry out a check to ensure that smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms installed to comply with the Regulations are in proper working order on the day a tenancy begins where it is a new tenancy. A new tenancy is a tenancy granted on or after 1st October 2015.
For these purposes a new tenancy does not include a tenancy which was granted where the original agreement was entered into before 1st October 2015; nor does it include a periodic statutory tenancy which arises when a fixed term shorthold tenancy ends. It does not apply to a tenancy which starts at the end of an earlier tenancy where the landlord and tenant are the same as under the earlier tenancy and the premises are the same (or substantially the same) as those under the earlier tenancy. Therefore this express requirement to check does not apply to the renewal of a tenancy for the same premises by the same landlord to the same tenant.
However, it would be prudent to ensure that any smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm are installed to meet these requirements and that they in good working order and checked periodically to see that they are working properly. There is no reason why this responsibility should not be placed on the tenant but the landlord will then have to make ensure that the tenant does actually carry out the checks.
HMOs & Selectively Licenced Properties
As from 1st October 2015 new licence conditions will be included requiring the provision of smoke alarms and fire detectors. In the case of HMO licences they already contain provisions for alarms in any case. The regulations themselves are not applicable in this kind of accommodation.
The local authority is responsible for enforcement.
A local authority must serve a remedial notice within 21 days where they have reason to believe that the landlord is in breach of any of these duties relating to smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms.
A remedial notice must specify the action to be taken within 28 days of the date of the service of the notice. It allows the landlord 28 days to make representations against the notice.
The landlord must then take the required action within the periodallowed. There is an excuse for a landlord for non-compliance with the notice if the landlord can show that he has taken reasonable steps to comply with the duty, but the landlord is not required to take legal proceedings. This could cover a situation where the tenant refuses access to allow the work to be done.
If the landlord fails to take action then the local authority must, if it has the necessary consent to do so, arrange for the work required to be undertaken within 28 days of consent being obtained if consent of the occupier of the premises is required. Therefore if a local authority is also refused access by the tenant it cannot take the necessary steps itself.
If the landlord is in breach the local authority may require the landlord to pay a penalty charge up to a maximum of £5,000. It has discretion whether or not to impose this charge. If it intends to impose a charge it must serve a penalty charge notice within six weeks from when it is first satisfied that a breach has occurred. A right to make representations against the penalty notice is given and the local authority may reduce the charge for prompt payment.
If the local authority upholds a penalty charge notice there is a right to appeal for the landlord to the First Tier Tribunal.
The Grounds of Appeal are:
1. Local authority has made an error of fact or law
2. The amount of penalty charge is unreasonable
3. The decision to impose a penalty is unreasonable for any other reason
Payment of the penalty is suspended pending any appeal.
Local Authority Penalty Policy
Each local authority must publish a statement of principles which will be followed in determining the amount of any penalty charge.
This statement will be taken into account in deciding on an individual penalty for a particular case.
This guide is based on draft regulations which have yet to be formally approved by Parliament.
Tenants are required to test these periodically to ensure they are in full working order. If battery operated, tenants should ensure that old batteries are replaced and that they never remove batteries, tamper or break any alarms at the property.
Any problems with alarms needs to be reported to your Landlord and/or managing agent immediately.
There is no longer an obligation for the landlord to pay SDLT charges. If the net value exceeds £125,000 per tenancy then the SDLT becomes the responsibility of the tenant. This is applicable on a cumulative basis and you will be made aware of your responsibility if we believe that SDLT is liable to be paid.
Find out more about taxation for UK resident landlords and overseas landlords here.
It is the responsibility of the tenant to hold a valid TV licence irrespective of whether the landlord has provided a television or not.
The Tenancy Agreement sets out the terms of the property you are letting. It is therefore important that you read and understand the terms and conditions prior to signing it.
The agreement may incorporate regulations or terms of the landlord’s head lease, should they own the property under a long lease. These will be made available to you at the commencement of the Tenancy.
For more information on Tenancy Deposit Schemes, download our helpful guide here.
During a tenancy general wear and tear should be expected. The tenant cannot be held responsible for changes in the properties condition as long as it falls within “responsible use of the property.” A number of factors need to be taken into account when considering damage or deterioration:
1. The condition according to the inventory report at check-in / check-out
2. The quality (therefore durability) of the item in question
3. The length of time the property has been occupied
4. How many occupants are expected to live in the property
5. Any extenuating circumstances
The landlord cannot expect old items to be replaced with new ones, unless the items damaged are new themselves. It is important to remember that modern pieces of furniture may not be as durable as older, antique pieces.
Below are some guidelines for the anticipated ‘life expectancy’ of house decorations:
Emulsion covered walls
Wallpaper and similar coverings
Agents charge fees for conducting referencing, administrative tasks and Right to Rent checks may apply. These fees are usually payable in advance of signing the tenancy agreement, so ensure you have some monies to meet these costs when you start viewing properties (see Information for Tenants).
• Provide a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
• Provide a valid Gas Safety Certificate. This needs to be reissued annually.
• Provide a copy of the latest Government’s Guide – How to Rent.
• Provide the tenant with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme paperwork.
• Insure the building and the landlord’s contents.
• Fit working smoke alarms on every floor.
• Fit working carbon monoxide alarms in rooms using solid fuel.
• Maintain the structure of the property, appliances and furniture (where applicable).
• Carry out most repairs, if something is not working, in a timely manner.
• Give at least 24 hours’ notice of visits to the tenant. A landlord or agent cannot access a property whenever they like.
• Pay the rent as outlined in the tenancy agreement.
• Pay the council tax, utility bills and water rates, unless otherwise stated.
• Obtain a TV licence for the property.
• Obtain contents insurance for their own goods. It is also recommended that a tenant takes out accidental cover for their landlord’s belongings.
• Look after the property, but a tenant should get the landlord’s permission prior to attempting any repairs or decoration.
• Report any maintenance problems.
• Regularly test the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarm.
• Not cause a nuisance to any neighbours.
• Not sub-let the property or take in a lodger without speaking to the landlord or agent.
To find out what your house-buying budget is and the deposit you will require, you will need to speak to an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) who will provide you with advice on the mortgages available if you need one. We can provide details of IFAs if required.
Once your sale or purchase has completed, your conveyancer will continue to work for you to assist in tying up all the loose ends. On a sale this includes redeeming any mortgages secured against the property, paying your estate agents and forwarding the sale proceeds to you. On a purchase, it includes registering your ownership of the property with the Land Registry and forwarding any title deeds to you or your lender.
Your conveyancer will notify you as soon as possible should any problems arise with your sale or purchase, to discuss the various options available and agree with you the best way of proceeding with your sale and/or purchase.
Until the exchange of contracts, there is no legal obligation for the parties involved in a sale to proceed with the matter. Should you decide not to proceed with your sale and purchase, your solicitors will notify all parties on your behalf and agree a fee with you in respect of the work carried out. However, if contracts have been exchanged on your sale and purchase there are financial penalties which you would be responsible for should you decide not to honour the contract.
Should your sale not complete, the buyer’s solicitors will return any contract papers to your solicitors, who will agree a fee with you for the work carried out and then wait for another buyer to be found. Should your purchase not proceed, your solicitors will return the contract papers to the seller’s solicitors and agree a fee with you for the work carried out on your purchase. Any searches obtained on the property will be offered to any future buyer, to try and recover the cost of the same for you.
Once a sale is agreed, we will inform your legal conveyancer, who will be in touch with you to start the legal process.
You will need to provide us with proof of funding. Your IFA mortgage advisor will be able to provide you with this.
Your solicitor will contact you once all money has been transferred and the transaction has legally completed. Your keys will then be available for collection.
Before a tenancy begins we use an independent referencing company to check the tenant’s credit rating and income. Where possible, we also obtain references from their previous landlord and/or managing agent. At the start of the tenancy, the tenant is required to pay a deposit which is usually the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. The deposit can be held by us or by you as security in case of decay or damage.
Should the tenant fail to pay the rent or breaches the terms of the Tenancy Agreement, our sister company, Emsleys Solicitors, can provide guidance and advice on what to do next.
Tenants must obtain their own contents insurance for their belongings, as they are not covered under a landlord’s policy. The landlord is responsible for insuring their contents and the building, as well as payment of any mortgage, ground rent and service charges.
Discounted rate mortgages offer a discount on another interest rate – usually a lender's Standard Variable Rate (SVR). So if an SVR is currently 5% and the discounted rate is 1% below SVR, you'd pay a rate of 4%. Discounted rates are still variable, so your payments can go up as well as down.
A fixed mortgage is where your mortgage payments stay exactly the same for a specified initial period. They're great if you have a tight budget and want to know what you'll be paying or if you're worried about interest rates going up.
Freehold means that you own both the building and the land it is on.
If you have a poor credit history or a low income, are a student, or are on benefits, you may be asked to provide a Guarantor. This is someone who will sign a Deed of Guarantee agreeing to the same terms and conditions as your tenancy. For example, if you do not pay the rent, the Guarantor will be required to pay this on your behalf. Your Guarantor will require referencing in the same manner as you, and will remain a Guarantor for the length of your tenancy.
Leasehold means that someone else owns the land the building is on. With leasehold you are only buying the right to live in the property for a certain length of time. Many leasehold properties will be subject to ‘ground rent’, which is a maintenance charge for the upkeep of any communal areas. Ground rent can sometimes include buildings insurance as well. Sometimes the rent due is a nominal amount, for example £50 per year. This is sometimes referred to as ‘peppercorn rent’. When a property is leasehold your solicitor may make an additional charge to deal with the conveyancing.
A standard variable rate (SVR) is the rate that a lender will charge at the end of a special offer deal (that they have offered you). Each lender’s SVR is different and can be changed at any time that the lender chooses. Typically (but not always) the SVR will be at a higher rate than a fixed or tracker or discounted deal that they may offer.
Make sure you have a written tenancy agreement and that you read this prior to signing. A tenancy agreement is legally binding and you will be committed to paying the rent until the end of the agreement. If your circumstances change during your tenancy, you should contact the agent/landlord so that a settlement that works for both parties can be negotiated.
The most common tenancy for residential letting is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) created by the Housing Act 1989, latterly revised by the Housing Act 1996. An AST must be for a fixed term – usually a minimum of six months. At the end of the fixed term you can agree another fixed period with your landlord, or the tenancy will become a statutory periodic tenancy subject to the same terms and conditions as the original tenancy.
A tracker mortgage follows (or tracks) the movements of another rate – most commonly the Bank of England Base Rate.
At the outset of a tenancy, it is good practice that a written document accompanied by photos is drawn up. This is a schedule of the condition of the property and its fixture and fittings. It is recommended that you read it carefully and, within 7 days of the beginning of the tenancy, make comments or notes regarding the inventory and return it to the landlord/agent. This inventory will be referred to when the tenancy ends to verify the state and condition of the property when you hand it back, allowing for fair wear and tear for the length of time that you have been in occupation (see Information for Tenants). The inventory is the main document upon which the return of the deposit is adjudged, so it is essential for both the landlord and the tenant.
When you buy or sell a property, the buyer and seller each sign a copy of the contract which details the terms of the agreement. Once both parties are happy to proceed and have signed to say so, the contracts are literally ‘exchanged’ between the parties’ solicitors. At this point the sale and purchase is legally binding on the parties. The contract will also state the completion date.
This will often depend on the price and location of the property. As well as legal fees, there are the costs of searches, Land Registry fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) to consider. We are always happy to arrange for our sister company Emsleys Solicitors Ltd to give you an estimate of the likely costs upfront, so you are fully aware of everything and can budget accordingly.
Under English law, all land is owned by the Crown. It is a technicality of English law that ownership of land is actually ownership of an interest in the land. A freehold interest is an interest which lasts indefinitely, whereas a leasehold interest is an interest in land which expires after a fixed period of time. Given the complexities that can arise, your conveyancer will always confirm whether the property is freehold or leasehold and, if leasehold, how long the lease is for.
Essentially, ‘conveyancing’ is the transfer of the legal ownership of a property from one person to another. As part of this process it is necessary to carefully check the title to make sure there are no hidden surprises. In addition, a variety of searches are carried out to make sure everything is as it should be. Your solicitors will also liaise with your mortgage company where they are providing funds for the purchase. Once it is clear that everything is in order and that you are happy to proceed, your solicitors can proceed to ‘exchange contracts’ and fix a ‘completion date’.
• Contractual Tenancy
If certain specific circumstances exist, a contractual tenancy must be created. For example, where a tenant is a company – often referred to as company lets – or where the annual rent is over £25,000.
• Assured Tenancy
This would be used if a landlord wishes to grant the tenant more security of tenure and longer term security. The landlord can only obtain possession in very limited circumstances.
First of all, think about what type of property suits you and your lifestyle. For example, do you want a flat or a house? Do you want a garden? If yes, can you manage the upkeep of a garden?
If you have chosen to use our sister company, Emsleys Solicitors for your legal conveyancing, we will inform your conveyancer when you put your property on the market. We will let the conveyancer know when a sale has been agreed and they will get in touch with you directly to progress the legal side of the sale.