Darvill Estate Agents
tel: 01271 322 123

Help for Lettings/Landlords


Preparing your rental property

We pride ourselves on being specialists in our industry and are confident we can let your quality property quickly. Our office can provide a full lettings and management service, giving you peace of mind and reassurance.

Our highly trained staff will keep all clients regularly informed about changing housing legislation and our Tenancy Agreements are regularly updated to encompass current practices and procedures.

At Darvil Estate Agents we are trained to the maximum technical standards and have all the necessary information and knowledge at their fingertips. We are committed to offer the highest levels of care and attention, ensuring your property is let quickly and that the tenancy runs as smoothly as possible. We continually strive to provide a quality service.





High profile marketing

You can be assured your property will be extensively marketed, minimising the time in which it remains empty and maximising its potential. As well as our To Let boards, website and local advertising, we keep a database of tenants currently looking for somewhere to live. Our office is located in a busy location and we have excellent contacts with local employers, companies and relocation agents who put us, and your property, in touch with quality tenants. We provide regular feedback to all our clients.





Comprehensive tenant referencing

Once a potential tenant has been found for your property, they will undergo an extensive assessment procedure. Our referencing service has been designed to minimise risks and to ensure that the let goes smoothly. As well as financial references and fraud checks, we approach employers and, where applicable, any previous landlord.





Full property management service

We are regularly trained to keep abreast of developments in the law affecting lettings and specifically to protect your interests. Through regular property visits and extensive experience we strive to exceed your expectations and to give you the advice and service you need.

The safety of your tenant is paramount. Accidents from faulty equipment or services in your property will be costly to remedy and could even result in legal action if someone is badly hurt. Here are the main safety considerations:

Gas safety – Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords must arrange to have all gas appliances, pipework, fittings and flues checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Electrical equipment – You aren't required by law to get your electrical supply and appliances checked. However, there are lots of regulations covering electrics and you do have a duty of care to your tenant. It's good practice to arrange for a portable appliance test (PAT) for all the electrical appliances in your property before you let it.

Furniture and furnishings – To minimise the risk of fire, the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 set out requirements for soft furnishings, such as cushions, beds, sofas and pillows. It's illegal to provide furnishings that don't comply.

Smoke alarms – All properties built after 1991 must be fitted with mains-powered smoke alarms. For older houses, the rules are less clear-cut, so the best advice we can give is to get them fitted without question. Smoke alarms are cheap and are easy to fit – and they save lives and your property!





Presentation

Try not to impose a highly personal style on a property you want to let. Keep the decor simple; neutral colour schemes and furnishings are unlikely to offend other people's tastes, and will help you let your property quickly.

Really think about the property you're trying to let, the likely rental value and the type of tenant you think will be interested prior to decorating and furnishing. If you're in doubt, speak to Darvill Estate Agents who will give you good advice on the best approach.

Good, usable outside space comes at a premium, and it can greatly increase your rental yield, so make the most of it. Don't go over the top though - your tenant is unlikely to want to spend too much time maintaining the garden, so simple lawns, decked areas, or patios and potted plants are good options. If ongoing maintenance is an issue, it might be an idea to include the services of a gardener in the rent.

Other things to think about
The list of things you could or must do before you let your property is endless. As well as the essential stuff above, here's a reminder of other things to consider:

  • If the property is to be let furnished, you must ensure that it's 100% habitable and the tenant has everything they need from the outset.

  • There's little difference in rental value for furnished or unfurnished property, so try to be flexible, to get as many potential tenants through the door as possible.

  • When preparing your property to let, your standards need to be high if you want to attract the right tenant. Slapdash work and a poorly maintained interior will reduce your chances of finding a tenant and achieving the optimum rent.

  • Ensure all minor DIY jobs are finished.

  • Hire a professional cleaner before your tenant moves in.

  • Defrost the fridge and freezer.

  • Bleed the radiators.

  • Leave instruction manuals for all appliances and take copies for yourself and the managing agent.

Here at Darvill Estate Agents we are happy to give you contact details of reliable contractors. We can also offer a project management service for refurbishents and renovations.




EPCs for lettings properties

From October 1 2008, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive became effective across the private rented sector. This legislation states that all residential rental properties must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for tenants to view before contracts are signed.

An EPC tells you and the prospective tenant/s how energy efficient your property is; the impact the property has on the environment and includes recommendations on ways to improve the property's energy efficiency. The EPC must be made available to all prospective tenants. Darvill Estate Agents can arrange for an EPC to be prepared on your behalf.

This legislation only applies to properties entering the market from October 1 2008 and does not apply to existing tenancy agreements or to tenancy renewals.




Service options

Before you put your property on the market with us you need to decide upon the level of service you require. There are three options: let-only; rent-collection service or fully managed.




Let-only includes:

Marketing your property, including property details, web listing and any other agreed services such as newspaper advertising and listing on property-search websites accompanied viewings liaising between you and your prospective tenant/s and managing any negotiations checking references of prospective tenants drawing up the tenancy agreement setting up standing orders arranging the EPC, if you want us to placing the security deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme, if you want us to.




Rent-only includes all the services listed in the let-only service, plus:

  • Monthly rent collection
  • Transferring the rent to your chosen account, less our agreed fees
  • Sending you a monthly landlord rental statement
  • Placing the security deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme.



Full management includes let- and rent-only, plus:

  • Getting your approval and arranging all repairs and maintenance when necessary
  • Visiting your property every quarter, or periodically as agreed in the terms and conditions, and sending you a full report
  • Recording and preparing for gas-safety renewal dates and tenancy renewal dates, among other periodic events
  • Arranging payment of all outgoings such as service charge and ground rent
  • Arranging tenancy renewals.
  • Arranging the return of the security deposit.



Fees and other costs

Agent's fees
Fees depend on the level of service you need. At Darvill Estate Agents we tailor our fees to ensure they are highly competitive, while ensuring a service of the highest standard.

Choosing the agent that offers the lowest fees isn't necessarily the best option, as you may receive a poor level of service.

Your Darvill Estate Agents agent will discuss fees with you in detail, however our standard fee’s are:

• 10% for Let Only
• 11% for Rent Only
• 12% For Fully Managed

All of the above have a set up fee of 20% of the first months rent.

Renewal fees
Your tenant's lease will normally be for a six- or 12-month term, although it can be longer. At the end of this period, the tenant may want to stay in the property. Provided they paid the rent on time and looked after the property, it is usually to your advantage to allow them to do so. This means you can avoid the cost of re-marketing the property and any empty periods where you won't be receiving rental income. Alternatively, you may want to invite your tenant to remain in the property beyond the original term.

Either way, Darvill Estate Agents will negotiate the terms of the renewal on your behalf and prepare all the paperwork. We will do this as soon as we can, aiming to give you enough time to market the property again if the tenant decides not to renew.

When you employ Darvill Estate Agents as your letting agent, you agree to pay us an overall fee for our services. Part of this includes an agreed renewal fee, which you only have to pay if the tenant (or someone who lives in the property with them) stays on in the property, for example by renewing their tenancy or taking out a new lease. This part of the overall fee is agreed with your agent when Darvill Estate Agents is first instructed. These fees are included in the fully managed package.

Other costs to think about
As well as agent's fees, there are other costs for you to think about. There are the initial costs of preparing the property for let, the ongoing costs of repair and maintenance, and the cost of any emergencies, for which we advice you to have a contingency fund.




Before letting your property:

  • Redecoration
  • Furniture and furnishings
  • Gas Safe Register certificate (remember, this will be an annual cost)
  • Portable appliance test (PAT) if you choose to include electrical goods.
  • Professional cleaning



From the start and during the tenancy:

  • Agent's fees, depending on the level of service
  • Any 'extras' negotiated by the tenants, such as furniture or equipment for the property
  • Check-in and inventory
  • Contingency fund for maintenance and repairs
  • Contingency fund for times when the property is empty – the mortgage still needs to be paid.
  • Building insurance, and contents insurance for any fixtures, fittings and furnishings you own
  • Tax on your gross rental income (contact your nearest Tax Enquiry Office for more information)



Offers and deposits

Once you have received and accepted an offer from a prospective tenant, Darvill Estate Agents will take an administration fee from the tenant this shows that the tenant is serious. If you decide to reject the offer, or the rental falls through and this isn't the prospective tenant's fault, they'll get their fee back in full. However, if the prospective tenant pulls out of the deal once the offer has been agreed, they may lose part, or all of the deposit, to cover any costs we have incurred whilst processing their references.

We'll do all the necessary checks on the tenant and gather all their references. Provided this information is all in order, we'll invite the tenant to check through the agreement and sign and date it.

At this stage, the tenant's security deposit will need to be put into a tenancy deposit scheme. The deposit will be held throughout the tenancy and returned at the end, less any agreed deductions. The deposit is usually four-six weeks' rent. The tenant will also have to pay one month's rent in advance. We must have the advance rent and the security deposit in cleared funds before the tenant moves in.




Tenancy agreements

There are two main types of tenancy agreement. The ins and outs of each can be complex, but we will go through your specially drafted agreement with you and answer questions. Here's a brief summary of both types of agreement.

Assured shorthold tenancy

  • This type of agreement applies to all tenancies created after 15 January 1989, where the annual rent is not more than 25,000 and the tenants are individuals, not companies.

  • The tenant has the right to live in the property for the agreed period, or until you as landlord serve notice.

  • You have a right to end the tenancy by using a 'section 21' notice. However, you must give the tenant at least two months' notice before the end of any agreed fixed term.

  • A section 21 notice does not work in the first six months of the tenancy. However, you can issue a section 21 notice after the first four months, which allows for the required two-month notice period. Your tenant will only be protected by this six-month rule from the start of the first tenancy and not in subsequent tenancies.

You can get your property back before the six-month fixed term ends if your tenant:

  • Hasn't paid the rent for at least eight weeks
  • Is causing a nuisance to the neighbours, or
  • Has damaged your property (beyond usual wear and tear).*
*subject to obtaining a court order

Non-Housing Act 1988 tenancy

This type of agreement is much less common and only applies:

  • To tenancies created before 15 January 1989, or
  • Where the annual rent exceeds £25,000, or
  • To all company (corporate) lets.

A non-Housing Act tenancy may be used in other situations, but these do not apply to the usual business of a residential letting agent like Darvill Estate Agents. Non-Housing Act tenancies should be specially tailored to each case, so it's important to use a solicitor.




Before move-in

Before your tenant moves in, a detailed inventory and schedule of condition for the property must be taken. We recommend that this is done as soon as possible after the property has been professionally cleaned. Both parties will get a copy of the inventory report. By signing the inventory, the tenant is agreeing with the landlords observations on the state of the property and its contents.

Usually, the landlord is liable for the cost of the check-in inventory and check-out inspection at the end of the tenancy. (This is included in the fully managed packeage). Once the inventory has been completed and documented, the tenant is free to move in.




Buy-to-let

Property is recognised as one of the safest long term investments around. Over the years, there has been a notable increase in the number of people buying-to-let. Some people choose to make a living out of it, whilst others just invest in one or two properties as a pension. Even if property prices fall, you can still make money from your buy-to-let property, providing you look at it as a medium to long-term investment and don't decide to sell the property during a downturn.

Some mortgage providers offer products that are specially designed for those buying a property to let. Many of these products are only available through specialist mortgage brokers, so shop around and ask questions.

Before investing in a buy-to-let property you have to think very carefully about the type of tenants you are likely to get in the area you plan to buy. You must be sure that your investment will pay off. When targeting tenants, ensure the property is decorated and possibly furnished in a style that will suit their needs and the rent you plan to charge. As a rule, tenants like to be near shops and other amenities and good proximity to transport links is always important.

Do your sums before committing to a buy-to-let property.

If you invest in a leasehold property, remember to factor in annual service charges and ground rent.

Beware of vacant periods and make sure the rent you charge is competitive. If you set your rent at the top end of the spectrum, you could find it takes longer to find tenants, leading to longer vacant periods, where you lose money. However, if you reduce your rent by a few per cent, you have more chance of attracting tenants and reducing vacant periods. This means you could still end up earning the same, if not more, from your property than if you had set a higher rent.




Tenancy Deposit Schemes

Tenancy deposit schemes came into law in 2007. They aim to protect tenants' deposits from dishonest landlords and agents and to offer independent arbitration in any dispute about returning all or part of the deposit at the end of a tenancy. Tenants are more likely to look after the property if they know their money is being held as part of an official scheme.

Every agent in England and Wales must be a member of a tenancy deposit scheme; there are three government-authorised schemes to choose from:

Custodial scheme – known as the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), this is the only custodial scheme available. The scheme is funded by the interest earned from the deposits it holds. The custodial scheme is completely free to use.

Insurance-based schemes – There are two insurance-based schemes: the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (TDSL). TDS is aimed mainly at letting agents, while TDSL is for landlords, although both can join either scheme.

• In insurance-based schemes, the agent or landlord holds the money in a separate client account. TDS or TDSL charge the agent (or landlord) an annual fee to insure against the landlord failing to return the deposit (less any agreed deductions).

• Within 14 days of receiving the deposit, the landlord or agent must tell the tenant in writing which deposit scheme has their money.

Darvill Estate Agents are members of the custodial scheme (DPS) scheme.

At the end of the tenancy, an inventory and check-out will be done. You and your tenant must agree on any deductions to be taken from the deposit. If you can't agree, the case will go to the independent arbitration process of the deposit scheme that you or your agent belongs to. When any deductions have been agreed or decided by the independent arbitrator, this amount of the deposit must be released to the ex-tenant within 10 days.




Marketing

Promoting your property to the right audience is crucial to ensuring we achieve the best possible price. Darvill Estate Agents are constantly working on new promotional initiatives. We guarantee that every property will receive a tailored marketing package.

Individual property details and brochures
We prepare professionally designed details pages for every property we sell or let. Professionally printed glossy brochures are also available. We'll arrange for a series of quality photographs to be taken of your property as soon as you instruct us, along with floorplans and these will all be included in the details. These are then sent by email or post to every buyer/tenant looking for a property just like yours, kick starting the marketing campaign.

Advertising
Advertising your property is important, but it is only successful if you target the right publications. Darvill Estate Agents advertise in their local press, so ask them for more information about where your property could be seen. National advertising opportunities are also available in the property sections of major publications such as Country Life, the Sunday Times and the Telegraph.

Public relations
There is no better exposure for your property than positive PR in the media. Darvill Estate Agents work to achieve this kind of coverage on a daily basis, from articles in local and national press to features on TV and radio.

Online
With over 70% of all property searches starting on the internet, we make sure your property will receive a high profile on this, our own website, and the best independent property websites around too, such as rightmove, zoopla and primelocation to name a few.

On www.darvillestateagents.com your property will receive its own page with comprehensive details and specifications, multiple photographs, floor plans and video tours, if available.