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Lettings Advice: legal requirements of letting a property

PUBLISHED: 10:54 25 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:54 25 November 2015

Archant

Bernadette Oliver, head of Savills Harpenden lettings, looks at the legal requirements and aesthetic considerations of letting a property

If you are thinking about letting your property out at some point in the future, planning ahead is key to making the process as easy, stress free and financially viable as possible.

Letting out a property successfully relies on three fundamentals – compliance, presentation and price. Having time to address any work that needs to be undertaken in order to ensure a property is fully compliant and aesthetically pleasing will help keep costs to a minimum as these can be done in the right order – avoiding unnecessary decorating duplication and enabling you to shop around for the most competitive contractors as well as spreading the finance over a longer period of time. Getting the compliance and presentation side in order also means that when you decide to bring the property to the market, an agent can start the marketing process immediately.

To let your property, here are things, in very general terms, you are required to do by law and others you may want to consider:

Safety

Energy Performance Certificates are required prior to letting and your property must undergo a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) on an annual basis. This entails an electrician testing all electrical appliances with a plug in the property and issuing a certificate stating they are safe to use.

A check of the electrical installation and the hard wiring in the property is also required. If they are unsafe, an electrician will list the works required to make them safe before the property can be let legally.

As a landlord you will be legally responsible for gas safety in the property. A Gas Safe Registered engineer must undertake a gas safety check on an annual basis. This checks all pipework, appliances and flues are in good working order. If they aren’t, work will have to be undertaken to ensure they are, prior to the marketing of your property.

From October 1, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms became a legal requirement for let properties. A smoke alarm must be installed on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used as living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in any room which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. Checks must be made to ensure each alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins.

Presentation

Presentation of a property is a critical factor in its popularity with prospective tenants. Properties with modern kitchens and bathrooms, those with a neutral decor and presented immaculately will command the best rental prices. If your property has a dated kitchen or bathroom this is likely to be the biggest factor impacting the speed of letting and the price the property commands.

Landlords often wonder whether it is best to let a property furnished or unfurnished. Demand will depend on both the property type and its location. Larger family homes, for example, will be more popular if they come unfurnished while smaller flats can often benefit from being furnished to show how a small space can best be utilised.

It is worth investigating whether a furnished property commands a rental premium in a particular area. If this doesn’t apply, the economic return may not be worthwhile. White goods including a cooker, washing machine, dishwasher, tumble dryer and fridge freezer should be provided, irrespective of whether a property comes furnished or unfurnished.

The installation of a security alarm tends to be liked by tenants, not only from a security perspective but also for the insurance benefits it can provide.

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