What certificates do I need to rent my property?
In order to rent your property you will need the following certificates; Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), Gas Safety certificate and Electrical Safety Certificate. If you have an HMO then you will also require Fire Alarm certificate, Emergency Lighting certificate and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). Whilst PAT is not essential for non-HMO properties it is recommended to ensure that a Landlords obligations in terms for ensuring the property is electrically safe.
Do I need an HMO licence?
An HMO requires a mandatory licence if it is occupied by fit or more people forming more than one household. This is nationwide regulations applicable no matter where in the country your property is. The regulations as they appear now have been in place since October 2018.
Coventry City Council have also added Additional Licensing regulation which lowers the number of people to three or more tenants that form more than one household. Additional Licensing came into effect in Coventry on 4th May 2020.
What happens with the tenancy deposit?
We register all deposits received within 30-days with MyDeposits Insurance scheme, which is a Government approved deposit protection scheme. We have a separate account for deposits and this is audited annually as part of our UKALA membership.
We also have Client Money Protection insurance (CMP) which offers protection to our Landlord and Tenants and offers peace of mind that your money is safe.
What is the maximum deposit that I can charge?
The Tenant Fee Act 2019 became effective in June 2019. As part of this legislation the maximum deposit that can be taken from a tenant is the equivalent of 5-weeks rent. This is for tenancies with rent the equivalent of £50,000 per annum or less. Most Coventry rents will fit into this category.
If the rent of your property is in excess of £50,000 per annum then the deposit is capped at the equivalent of 6-weeks rent.
How much rent can I charge?
There are a lot of variables in terms of this question. The rental value of your property can be dependent on; property condition, area where property is, current market conditions, demand and time of year.
We have an online valuation tool which can provide a rough estimate. For more accurate guidance or if you have an HMO property then you can book a free valuation appointment with one of the team.
How often do I need to complete a Gas Safety Certificate?
A Gas Safety Certificate needs to be carried out annually on all gas appliances that are fitted within a property. If an appliance is replaced or upgraded then a new gas safety certificate is required even if there is a current valid certificate.
Our Fully Managed Landlords have the benefit of reminders when the expiry date of a certificate is approaching. Where required, we can arrange for the Gas Safety Certificate to be required
What are my obligations regarding Electrical Safety?
As a Landlord you must ensure that you property is Electrically safe. New legislation has now become effective whereby you need to have a valid Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This is carried out every 5-years.
Am I able to enter my property once it is tenanted?
Yes, but you must provide a minimum of 24-hours notice to your tenant. If your tenant refuses then you must abide by their request. Usually when a tenant refuses access they are more than happy to rearrange an alternative date and time.
For HMO’s whereby each room is let out on a separate Assured Shorthand Tenancy (AST) you can enter the communal areas without giving notice. Although it is good practice to inform your tenants anyway
What services do Homemaker Properties offer?
Homemaker Properties offer a range of services that can assist you with the letting and management of your property, including a fully managed service. We specialise in the management of HMO’s and have over a decades experience in this field. That said, we also managed single family let properties.
How much do Homemaker Properties charge for Management services?
The cost of our services depends on the package you opt for. We also have a list of enhanced add-ons that will compliment each of our packages.
Should I include bills with the rent?
If you are renting out your property as an HMO on separate Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST’s) then yes. This is a much more attractive option to tenants.
If the property is let with all tenants on one AST then we would usually recommend that bills are not included. Some tenants, students in particular, request a bills package from their Landlord. This is something that would be discussed and agreed at offer stage.
Do I need an inventory?
Legally you do not have to have an Inventory. However, we strongly recommend that at the start of each tenancy you carry out a detail photographic inventory. This is something that we can offer.
An inventory documents the condition of the property and is invaluable at the end of the tenancy should a property be left in a poor condition and you need to make deposit deductions. If a tenant disputes any deductions from the tenancy deposit then you will need to provide evidence documenting the deterioration of the property.
Will my agent keep my money safe?
We are members of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA). As part of this membership our accounts are audited each year. We also have Client Money Protection insurance which protects both Landlords and Tenants.
When will I receive the rent from my letting agent?
Once the rent has cleared into our bank account it is usually processed in the next payment run. Normally we complete a payment run twice a week. If for any reason the tenants have not paid and are in arrears, you will be notified.
Who should pay for the TV Licence?
The TV licence is usually paid by the Tenant and should be outlined clearly in the Tenancy Agreement. If a Landlord supplies a TV with the property then this responsibility falls to the Landlord.
Who should pay for the Council Tax?
If you are letting your property on a room-by-room basis then you, as the Landlord, will be responsible for Council Tax. If you are letting the property as a whole, then usually the tenant(s) would be responsible for the Council Tax payments.
Full-time students are exempt from Council Tax payments, in order to gain this exemption then a valid Student Status Certificate needs to be provided to Coventry City Council.
Coventry City Council also offer a 25% discount if all tenants are students except one.
What do I do if I want to remove my tenant?
There are two legal notices that can be provided to a tenant in order to end a tenancy. A section 21 notice and a section 8 notice.
A section 21 notice is a ‘no fault’ notice to end a tenancy. If you were looking to end the tenancy when there has been no breach then this is the notice you would use. This provides the tenant with a minimum of two-months notice to vacate the property or court proceedings will ensue. Should you need to go to court on a Section 21 notice, providing everything has been done legally correct, a judge will provide the Landlord with possession of the property. Examples where you would use a section 21 are if you are looking to move back into your property or possibly looking to sell with vacant possession.
A section 8 notice can be issued to a tenant when there has been a breach in contract. This provided 2-weeks notice to vacate the property or court proceedings will ensure. There are various grounds that can be used. The most common one is rent arrears. If the tenant is in more than 2-months arrears at the point of issue and on the court date then possession will be granted back to the Landlord. This is on the provision that everything has been done legally correct at the start of the tenancy and throughout. If the arrears fall below 2-months then a decision will be made at the judges discretion. It is important that accurate records are kept in order to build a stronger case.
If you are looking to go down eviction proceedings based on a breach of tenancy then we would recommend that you seek legal advice.
What is Client Money Protection?
Every letting agent must now have Client Money Protection. In basic terms this is an insurance that protects the Landlord and Tenant monies, should the business go bankrupt or do anything unscrupulous with the funds (not that we intend to!).
What do I need to do if I wish to increase the rent?
If your property is tenanted and you wish to increase the rent then you will need to issue your tenant with a Section 13 notice. If the tenant pays rent weekly, fortnightly or monthly then you will need to provide them with a minimum of 1-months notice from the rent payment date.
The maximum amount you can increase the rent by is 5% plus the rate of inflation to a maximum of 10% of the rent. A rental increase can only be done once a year.
When a property becomes available then you are able to review the rent and there is no limitation in terms of increase. A member of our team can advise you of the current market rate
What is the benefit of dressing the rooms?
We recommend dressing rooms where possible. This makes rooms stand out on the marketing and tends to generate more interest. Dressing a room / property it helps a prospective tenant to envisage themselves living in the property. Room / Property dressing is a service that we can offer.
Do I need to provide a furniture
This entirely depends on your target market. If you are looking for a long term family let then usually the tenant would have their own furniture. If you are targeting students then usually they would expect furniture to be provided. Our team can advise you of the best furniture options for your property and target tenant type at your market appraisal.
What should I do if I am struggling to let my property?
Get in touch with us! We will provide you with a full market appraisal and give you honest advice on the best way forward.
COVID-19 specific questions
Are the Universities re-opening?
Coventry University have announced that they are “fully committed to delivering as much on-campus learning and the widest University experience possible from September 2020.” The University have opted for “blended learning” which means that part of courses will be delivered online as well as on-campus with the Government guidelines regarding social distancing being implemented.
The University of Warwick are taking a similar approach with a mixture of online learning and face-to-face teaching being implemented from September.
Please check university websites for latest information.
Is the student market still there?
We are still getting student tenants reserve properties for the coming academic year. However, in terms of students, it is a little quieter than usual and we anticipate that student numbers will be lower this year.
Many International tenants may not be able to travel and some courses have been confirmed as being online for the next academic year.
Our recommendation at this stage would be to open up your rooms / properties to both students and professional to avoid limiting your market.
What should I do if my tenant can’t pay their rent?
Our advice at this stage is to work with your tenant and attempt to setup a payment plan. At present, many people may be furloughed from their job but still receiving 80% of their wage. Others are in the unfortunate position where they may have lost their job. In these circumstances, I would advise that they claim Universal Credit. In both instances a payment towards the rent should be achievable, although perhaps not the full amount. In either of the above circumstances, I would ask for proof of the situation. E.g. recent payslips or a letter from employer.
Student tenants should still be paying. Student loans were still paid as usual. It is up to your discretion you come to an agreement with your student tenant in terms of ending their agreement early. You are not obligated to do so.
If your tenant is not paying at all then you can serve them notice. However, at present the usual Section 8 (2-weeks notice) or Section 21 (2-months notice) can only be served with 3-months notice. The courts are not proceeding with any evictions until 26 August 2020. The 2-week notice period of a Section 8 is not going to reinstated until September at the earliest.
Giving notice should be the last option once all attempts at setting up a payment plan have been exhausted. You need to document all attempts at communication with your tenant.
Can viewings still take place?
Viewings can take place but the current Government guidelines on social distancing should be taken into consideration.
If your property is tenanted then it is advisable to ask the current tenants to leave all doors open and wait in the garden or away from the property whilst a viewing takes place. A tenant within a property has every right to refuse access, especially if they are classed as vulnerable and / or are shielding. You need to respect their wishes.
The applicant viewing the property should wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and avoid touching and surfaces including door handles. The agent or person carrying out the viewing should also wear PPE and ensure that any surfaces or door handles that have been touched are wiped down with disinfectant prior to leaving.
Where possible we are providing video viewings of a property prior to a physical viewing in order to limit the amount of people looking around a property.
Under no circumstances should ‘open house’ viewings be arranged.