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.
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.
The Defective Premises Act 1972 imposes a duty on landlords 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. Whilst not specifically mentioned, this includes asbestos. In addition, a landlord could be guilty of a criminal offence if anyone is exposed to a risk from asbestos.
Landlords should ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and if there are any doubts you should employ a competent contractor to carry out any repairs or other works.
Any landlord who commissions repair or construction work has to comply with legislation which include an obligation to notify the present tenant of asbestos where the landlord is aware of this. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 require that a risk assessment is carried out before any work is started to see if asbestos is present and to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken to deal with asbestos which is present. Special rules apply to the common areas of blocks of flats and bedsits (not to individual flats) and the landlord is obliged to investigate whether asbestos is present in the common parts. If asbestos is present, the landlord is 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.
Please visit the following link for information: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/duty-manage-asbestos
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.
Yes, you can use a Help to Buy ISA to purchase a newly built home. First time buyers saving regularly into either account can claim a Government bonus of up to £6,000 towards their first property. Find out more by visiting https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/help-to-buy-isa/how-does-it-work/.
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
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.
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 Landlord is obliged to ensure that electrical installations and appliances are safe and are in proper working order throughout the tenancy. 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. We recommend that Landlords have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician and also recommend that electrical equipment is PAT tested on a tenant changeover and at regular intervals.
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 information about a property’s energy use, typical energy costs and recommends ways to save energy. Since April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic property in England or Wales must ensure that their properties reach at least an EPC Rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants.
From 1 April 2020 these requirements will apply to all private rented properties in England and Wales, even where there has been no change in tenancy arrangements.
If a landlord believes that an F or G EPC rated property qualifies for an exemption from the minimum energy efficiency standard, an exemption must be registered on the National PRS Exemptions Register. The register service is currently running as a pilot. Landlords who wish to register an exemption for a domestic or non-domestic property as part of this pilot should e-mail the BEIS minimum standards team at PRSregisteraccess@beis.gov.uk
Under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989 and 1993), Landlords must be able to demonstrate that furnishings included in the property are fire resistant.
- Beds, headboards of beds and mattresses;
- Sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles;
- Nursery furniture;
- Garden furniture which is suitable for use in the dwelling;
- Scatter cushions and seat pads;
- Loose and stretch covers for furniture.
- Furniture made before 1950;
- Bedclothes including duvets;
- Loose covers for mattresses;
- Pillow cases;
- Sleeping bags.
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.
Under The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, it is a mandatory requirement for landlords to ensure the gas equipment at the property is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords must make sure a registered engineer carries out an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue.
Landlords should keep records of inspections and a copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to the tenant before the tenancy can commence. In addition to this, certificates should be issued after any future inspections of 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. Since April 2009 you must ensure that anyone carrying out work on gas appliances at your property (including flues) is registered on the new Gas Safety Register. If an engineer who carries out a check on a gas appliance is not on the Gas Safety Register, residential landlords are in breach of the regulations.
Failure to comply with the regulations can result in a substantial fine or even, in the worst cases, imprisonment. The Gas Safety Register can be accessed at: www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
Additional responsibilities are imposed on Landlords who let Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) occupied by at least 3 tenants who comprise more than 1 household and who share the amenities (these could also apply to a building split into bed-sits).
If the property is a large HMO (at least 3 storeys high with 5 tenants comprising more than 1 household sharing facilities), the Landlord must hold a Licence from the Council.
Licences usually last for 5 years but some councils grant them for shorter periods. The council checks that the building meets acceptable standards and the landlord is a 'fit and proper' person.
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.
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.
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.
Although you do not need to wait for the seller to find another house to buy or rent (as you are buying from the developer), your completion date will depend on the stage of construction of the property. If the house is still under construction, the developer will provide you with an estimated moving date. Once the build has almost been completed, you will be given a more accurate completion date.
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.
Where Emsleys Estate Agents’ Lettings and Property Management team is managing the property, you will be supplied with an inventory at the outset of the tenancy. You will have 7 days to check this inventory and return it with any comments or amendments you may wish it make. If you do not return it in 7 days we will deem that you have accepted the inventory given to you.
This inventory will be used to check you out of the property when you leave. We will make an allowance for fair wear and tear for the length of time you have been living at the property but we would always encourage tenants to ensure the property has been thoroughly cleaned when they leave. If you have a pet you should have the carpets professionally cleaned and de-odourised. This will reduce the chance of any dispute occurring.
In cases where the landlord is managing their own property, you will be supplied with an inventory and you should ensure you check and return this to them within 7 days of the tenancy starting. Your landlord will undertake the check out of the property when you leave.
If the landlord is managing the property but Emsleys Estate Agents have registered the deposit, the landlord will still undertake the check out and we will need you and the landlord to provide details of the return of the monies. We will also need you to provide us with your bank details for payment.
If a dispute arises we would refer you to the details of the scheme as given to you at the outset of your tenancy.
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 may be asked to provide information for the purpose of referencing. This is usually a credit check, an income level check and a previous landlord check. 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.
Most rented properties are low risk but nevertheless Landlords must undertake a risk assessment to determine the risk of Legionella which causes Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. Everyone is susceptible to infection but the risk is increases with age and in people suffering from pre-existing health conditions.
The bacterium Legionella pneumophila are widespread in natural water systems, eg rivers and ponds, but can also be found in purpose-built water systems such as hot and cold water systems and spa pools where the water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth. 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.
Landlords have a legal duty to ensure the property is kept in repair. This includes installations for water supply, gas and electricity and can extend to the exterior of the property in which the Landlord has an interest (eg the private driveway leading to the block of flats). Tenants do not have to report any problems so Landlords must be vigilant and take any necessary action.
A maximum of 3 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.
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
If it is agreed that you will be paying a lump sum payment for the rent and deposit such as six months in advance, we will require you to comply with our Money Laundering Regulations. We will require proof of the monies and how you have accumulated the monies into your account. This may require confirmation from 3rd parties such as solicitors or family members.
All information will be submitted to our Compliance Officer and require their confirmation that the letting can go ahead before a tenancy agreement can be completed.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy can be brought to an end in certain circumstances by serving a prescribed notice on the Tenant. Where the Tenant has not breached any conditions of the tenancy agreement, this will be a Section 21 Notice. However there are restrictions on when a Section 21 Notice can be served, for example, it cannot be within the first 6 months of the tenancy or if the Landlord has not complied with other obligations in respect of 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.
Your reservation fee will not be refunded if the details given in references are not the same as the information supplied on your application form or if you pull out of renting the property.
Your reservation fee will be returned if the landlord does not wish to continue the letting.
Upon the landlord accepting your offer we will require you to pay a reservation fee equivalent to one week’s rent, sign an offer letter and give us sight of your ID (see Right to Rent Check and Identification below).
Prior to signing an offer letter and making payment we will require you to acknowledge receipt of the EPC and How to Rent Booklet. We will not allow you to reserve a property without formal acknowledgment of these documents. We will also supply at this time a draft blank tenancy agreement and any other relevant information that we may be in knowledge of at this time.
Landlords must check all tenants have the right to legally rent (including any occupants over 18 years who are not named on the tenancy agreement).
Landlords must check the documentary evidence of the tenants’ identity and right to remain in the presence of the tenant. Permitted documents include a passport or biometric residence permit. The checks are detailed and must be recorded.
Fines can be imposed on Landlords who cannot show they checked their right to rent and letting to someone whom they knew or had reasonable cause to know that they did not have the right to rent in the UK could lead to an unlimited fine or a custodial sentence.
For more information please visit the government website: www.gov.uk/government/collections/landlords-immigration-right-to-rent-checks.
It is a legal requirement for landlords and letting agents to undertake a Right to Rent check prior to letting. We are required to check your immigration status and that of anyone aged 18 or over who will be living with you.
For information on Right to Rent checks and documentation we require please read the government's guidance.
We must see you in person before allowing you to sign the tenancy agreement and complete the letting. If any person aged 18 years and over will live at the property, we will also need to undertake a Right to Rent Check for them, even if they are not named in the Tenancy Agreement.
To comply with money laundering regulations, we are also required to obtain proof of your address. We will require you to also bring a utility bill or bank statement less than three months old. These must be original copies and supplied in person.
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.
Under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, from 1 October 2015 a landlord must have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. coal fire, wood burning stove). After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. Alarms should be checked throughout the tenancy on inspections and by the tenant. The landlord will need to check that the tenant is carrying out the checks as the landlord carries the legal obligation to keep the alarms operating and not the tenant.
The requirements will be enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.
The regulations do not stipulate the type of alarms to be installed (such as hard wired or battery powered). Landlords should make an informed decision and choose the best alarms for their properties and tenants.
Carbon monoxide Alarms
Landlords must ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room of their homes where there is a fixed combustion appliance, including a gas boiler . Where a new fixed combustion appliance is installed a carbon monoxide alarm will be required to be installed by law. Gas cooker appliances are to be excluded from the new rules. To clarify:
- carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted where there is solid fuel used,
- carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) in all rented properties (Social and private rented)
- carbon monoxide alarms will also be mandatory upon installation of any heating appliance (excluding gas cookers)
- landlords will be expected to repair or replace alarms once informed that they are faulty
Heat detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms. However, as gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide, it is good practice to ensure that working carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rooms with these.
If needed, your local fire and rescue authority may be able to provide further advice on installation or you can download fire safety information from www.gov.uk/firekills.
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.
Landlords may need to pay Capital Gains Tax on any gain when they sell a property which has been let. In addition, Landlords are liable to income tax on the rental income. The amount payable is dependent on their circumstances.
The rules as to which expenses can be offset against tax change from time to time (for example, changes to remove the allowance for wear and tear and the phasing out of tax relief on mortgage interest). Landlords are advised to contact their accountant or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to obtain confirmation regarding available allowances.
Overseas Landlords :
- Landlords who live abroad for 6 months or more per year are classed as ‘non-resident landlords’ by HMRC even if they are a UK resident for tax purposes. Specific rules apply to overseas landlords including companies that have their offices or other place of business outside the UK, companies incorporated outside the UK; trustees; members of the HM Forces and HM Government employees.
- Landlords can apply to the HMRC to pay their tax through Self-Assessment and if approved, HMRC will notify the letting agent that they can cease to withhold tax (up to receipt of the exemption certificate, they must retain the tax).
- Landlords are recommended to contact their HM Revenue & Customs office or their accountant if they have any queries as soon as possible and preferably prior to any tenancy commencing.
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 important that you read and understand the terms and conditions prior to signing it.
If any landlord has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy in England and Wales and receives a deposit from their tenant, they are obliged to protect it in one of three Government-backed tenancy deposit schemes:
- Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
The deposit scheme will hold the deposit and release it at the end of a tenancy. It is always the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the deposit is protected, even if you use a letting agent.
There are two types of tenancy deposit protection scheme available for landlords and letting agents: insurance-based schemes and custodial schemes.
The tenant pays the deposit to the landlord and then the landlord retains the deposit and pays a premium to the insurer.
The tenant pays the deposit to the landlord or agent and then the landlord or agent pays the deposit into the scheme. This option is most commonly used by landlords.
The deposit must be protected within 30 days of receiving the deposit (this may not necessarily be the same date as when the tenancy starts) and the tenant must also be served prescribed information within 30 days, which includes:
- The address of the rented property;
- The amount taken for the deposit;
- Details of which deposit scheme was used to protect the deposit;
- The contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme used and its dispute resolution service;
- The name and contact details of any third party that has paid the deposit e.g. the Letting Agent;
- Information on how the tenant can apply to get the deposit back;
- Details of what the tenant can do if there is a dispute over the deposit.
Serving the prescribed information is not merely a procedure, it is a legal requirement. Securing the tenancy alone is not enough. It has also been advised by a solicitor to request that tenants sign a document to confirm that they have actually received the information.
To summarise, the legislation applies to every landlord in England and Wales that has taken a deposit from a tenant under an Assured Short hold Tenancy Agreement. The deposit must be protected within 30 days of receiving it, even if you’ve only received a partial amount of the deposit. You must servethe prescribed information after the deposit is secured and to the tenant within 30 days.
Failure to comply with the relevant scheme would entitle the tenant to apply to the County Court for an order for repayment of the deposit. In addition the Court can order the landlord to pay to the tenant a sum equal to three times the deposit. Failure to comply with the scheme also prevents a landlord from serving a section 21 notice for possession
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
• 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.
• 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.
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 remain 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 Lifetime ISA enables individuals to save for later life or to buy their first home. Savers can earn a 25% bonus on their saving each year, up to a maximum of £1,000 per annum. Visit https://www.gov.uk/lifetime-isa for more information.
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.
Backed by the Government, the Help to Buy scheme helps eligible buyers purchase a new build home with just a 5% deposit. The loan is available for both first time buyers and existing homeowners.
Buyers can borrow up to 20% of the property purchase price and a 75% mortgage from a participating lender. For more information about the fees and terms and conditions involved, visit https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/
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.
The Bank of England meets once a month to dictate the base rate (this can stay the same or can increase or decrease) however mortgage lenders can change the rate that they offer to new or existing customers at any time.
Do you want a leafy borough or would you prefer to be at the heart of the action? Do you need to be near public transport? In a larger area, there is more likelihood of finding the right property for you.
Our sister company Emsleys Solicitors believes in providing a personal service and building a lasting relationship with clients. If you instruct Emsleys Solicitors to deal with your sale or purchase, you will be allocated a conveyancer with the qualifications and experience needed to ensure your transaction proceeds as smoothly as possible, and they will be supported by experienced legal support staff throughout the transaction. Your conveyancer will be your main point of contact and in charge of progressing your sale or purchase.
When buying or selling a house, your solicitor will prepare and explain the various legal documents, including the Contract, Transfer Deed and Mortgage Deed. Your solicitor will investigate the title to your property and make you aware of any issues which could affect your use and enjoyment of the property. Your solicitor will also guide you through the house buying/selling process.