info@TopHatProjects.co.uk

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Top Hat Projects, Letting Agents for Oundle, Kimbolton, Huntingdon, and surrounding countryside


Landlords Page

If you currently own or intend to purchase residential property for rental, you should consider engaging our Property Management Service. You'll find it both professional and cost-effective. As we are specialists, we know how to manage a property for optimum performance, whilst ensuring smooth running tenancies, and compliance with the various Landlord and Tenant Laws. Maximise the return on your investment - contact us now.


Guarantee

I, Jules Sismey Williamson, Proprietor, Personally Guarantee

1) To pay within 5 working days of receiving the rent from YOUR Tenants, remembering we are only custodians of your monies (minus any maintenance and commission etc).

2) To provide Personal messaging at all times, you know I get the message and will return calls within 2 hrs.

3) To sort Deposits out within the 14 days the DPS require us to (but usually much quicker).

4) To start Marketing and Advertising the property the same day we take it on, no delays or excuses. Marketed on Rightmove + many more Websites + Magazines.

5) No gimmicks just honest hard work - it has already paid off many times over and References can be obtained or we can put you in touch with existing Landlords. 95% of new business comes by referrals.

Our Letting & Management Service includes:

  • Visiting you at the prospective rental property, and providing a rental valuation and any other advice which you may require about letting your property.
  • Advising you on compliance with the various safety regulations.
  • Locating suitable Tenants. Your property will be Marketed and Advertised on all the top National and local Websites and Magazines and furthermore we usually have Prospective Tenants waiting on our own established Database and most of our business also comes via recommendation.
  • Accompanying Prospective Tenant applicants to view the property, after first establishing their commitment and situation to avoid time wasters.
  • Always taking full References via external Reference Experts Homelet.
  • Keeping you informed at all times of the situation so no surprises.
  • Preparing the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and other applicable Documents (Section 21, Utility Changeover forms etc) and arranging signature by the tenant; then copies to the Landlord.
  • Collecting a Deposit which will be treated in accordance with current legislation. We use the DPS Scheme.
  • Organising the external Inventory and Schedule of Condition, as per our Contract.
  • Checking the Tenant into the property and agreeing the Inventory.
  • Supervising the transfer of Gas, Water Rates, Electricity and Council Tax accounts into the Tenant's name.
  • Organising rental payments monthly in advance, and paying you promptly, together with a detailed statement.
  • If required, paying regular outgoings for you from rental payments.
  • Inspecting the property periodically, and reporting any problems to you.
  • Arranging any necessary repairs or maintenance, first liaising with you in the case of larger works.
  • Keeping in touch with the Tenant on a routine basis, and arranging renewals of the agreement, as necessary within good time perameters to avoid empty properties.
  • Checking Tenants out as required, re letting and continuing the process with the minimum of vacant periods to ensure that you receive the optimum return from your property.

We maintain a flexible attitude to be able to adapt our service if required to meet our client's individual circumstances and needs.


Our Fees

We offer a competitive fee structure and can offer reductions on our standard charges for multiple property portfolios. Please telephone or email us to discuss your exact requirements.

We offer Managed or Let Only packages please contact us for further information and Landlord Information Packs

Managed Properties are 10% per month of the rent

Let Only Fees start at £550
Rent Guarantee Insurance Policy for 6 months £85 or 12 months £150 (at present costs for rents under £1000 per calendar month)
Inventories start at £85 for a 2 bed unfurnished property & we are happy to quote on your specific property
Gas Certificates start at £85

EPC £85
Legionnaires Risk Assessment £85


Guide for Landlords

Before a property can be let, there are several matters which the owner will need to deal with to ensure that the tenancy runs smoothly, and also that he/she complies with the law. We provide summarised information below. If you require further advice or assistance with any matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Preparing the Property

We have found that a good relationship with Tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers this relationship is our job, but it is important that the Tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. It follows therefore that a well presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this, whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Tenants are also more inclined to treat such a property with greater respect.

General Condition
Electrical, Gas, Plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the Landlords expense unless misuse can be established. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral (paint is always preferable to wallpaper to make upkeep easier).

Furnishings
Your property can be let fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished. Which of these is appropriate will depend on the type of property and local market conditions. We will be pleased to give you advice on whether to furnish or not and to what level. As a minimum you will need to provide flooring (preferably hard flooring) or decent quality carpets, curtains and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided.

Personal Items, Ornaments etc
Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc should be removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the loft at the owner's risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the Tenant's own use.

Gardens
Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. However, few Tenants are experienced gardeners, and if you wish, or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange visits by our regular gardener.

Cleaning
At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition (any carpets & curtains steam cleaned, ovens professionally cleaned, windows cleaned inside and out etc), and at the end of each tenancy it is the Tenants' responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense.

Information for the Tenant
You are required by law to leave information for the Tenant, eg operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc would be helpful.

Keys
You should provide 1 set of keys for each Tenant and a copy for us to keep on file.

Rent Recovery Plus & Legal Protection

You should provide 1 set of keys for each Tenant and a copy for us to keep on file.

For Landlords who wish to protect their rental income we can purchase a Rent Recovery Plus product via HomeLet and note you as having an "interest in" this policy. Having an interest in this policy means that you may be able to benefit should a successful claim be made.

Brief details of the product are below:

  • Eviction of Tenants for non-payment of rent
  • Eviction of unauthorised occupants
  • Eviction of tenants following an expired section 21 notice
  • Eviction of a tenant following a claim for possession in accordance with section 2 of The Housing Act 1996
  • Legal Expenses limit of up to £50,000
  • Up to a maximum of 5 month's rent payments from the date of the first arrears
  • Can also pay 2 months at 50% of the rent payable once vacant possession has been obtained and the property is being re-advertised

Other Considerations

Mortgage
If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee's written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the tenancy agreement of which you must inform us.

Leaseholds
If you are a Leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain any necessary written consent from the Head Leaseholder before letting. Any central information regarding rules etc will need to be copied to us so we can include in the Tenants Information Pack.

Insurance
You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your Buildings and Contents Insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies. We are Introducers for HomeLet and can provide you with further information on a range of insurance products designed specifically for the lettings market, if required.

Bills and Regular Outgoings
We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings eg service charges, maintenance contracts etc to be paid by standing order or direct debit. However, where we are managing the property, by prior written agreement, we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit.

Council Tax and Utility Accounts
We will arrange for the transfer of Council Tax and Utility Accounts to the Tenant. Meter readings will be taken, allowing your closing Gas and Electricity accounts to be drawn up. All these matters we will handle for you, however British Telecom will require instructions directly from both the Landlord and the Tenant.

Income Tax
When resident in the UK, it is entirely the Landlords responsibility to inform the Revenue & Customs of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, he will require an Exemption Certificate from the Revenue & Customs before he can receive rental balances without deduction of tax.

The Inventory
It is most important that an Inventory of Contents and Schedule of Condition be prepared, in order to avoid misunderstanding or dispute at the end of a tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the Landlord to prove any loss, damage, or significant deterioration of the property or contents. In order to provide a complete Service, we will arrange for an external company to prepare an Inventory and Schedule of Condition, at the cost quoted in our Agency Agreement. This is to avoid bias in case of any disagreements.

What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £100,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 to 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the Landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives 2 months written notice to the Tenant. In addition, if the Tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property then the Landlord can apply through the court to seek a possession order.

Rent Guarantee
Rent Guarantee Even the best tenants can sometimes fall on hard times, which is why we can provide Information on Rent Guarantee cover (subject to terms and conditions) to help protect your investment against defaulted rental payments and legal costs.

Health and Safety, and other Legal Requirements

The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where we are managing the property they are also our responsibility. Therefore, where we are managing we will advise compliance, any costs of which will be the responsibility of the Landlord.

Gas
Annual safety check: Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Maintenance: There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipework are maintained in a safe condition at all times.
Records: Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and of any remedial action taken.
Copies to tenants: A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.

Electrical
There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are 'supplying in the course of business'. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation - 'Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no legal requirement for an electrical safety certificate (except in the case of all HMOs) it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety, and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your 'duty of care', or even of manslaughter is to arrange such an inspection and certificate. We highly recommend you have a Visual Inspection at the very least, but if you decide not to you will sign the appropriate area on the Landlord Contract to take responsibility for this decision.

Fire
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.

Smoke Alarms
All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new. Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties, it is generally considered that the common law 'duty of care' means that Landlords and their Agents could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted. We therefore insist the Landlord fit at least 1 alarm on each floor (in the hall and landing areas).

Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?
If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more Tenants comprising 2 or more households (ie not all of the same family) it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are 3 or more Tenants not all related in any property, it is still likely to be an HMO, and special Management rules apply. Learn more here: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/licensinghouses

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities. For further information visit http://www.communities.gov.uk/hhsrs

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by Landlords and Letting Agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. Landlords and Letting Agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme is be supported by an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (ADR).
We are members of the DPS more information can be obtained at http://www.depositprotection.com or from us directly. Full information is in our Landlord Information Packs.
You can learn more on the government website, which includes an overview of the requirements, and also links to the sites of the companies running the various schemes: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/index.htm.

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005
The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled people's rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let, and commonhold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Under the new duties, provided certain conditions are met (for example, that a request has been made), Landlords and managers of premises which are to let, or of premises which have already been let, must make reasonable adjustments, and a failure to do so will be unlawful unless it can be justified under the Act. Landlords will only have to make reasonable adjustments. And they will not have to remove or alter physical features of the premises. Learn more here: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/aboutus/dda_factsheet4-premises.pdf

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
From 1st October 2008 Landlords in England and Wales offering property for rent have been required by law to provide Prospective Tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for their property. The certificates must be provided free either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to Prospective Tenants or a viewing is conducted. A new certificate will not be required on each let since, in the case of rental property, EPCs will be valid for 10 years. The requirement is being introduced to comply with the EUs Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which applies to all property, including rented property. We can arrange an EPC inspection for our landlords upon request. The cost is from £80.
Some relevant links:

Directgov.co.uk website:
Energy Performance Certificates for homes
The Home Information Packs (No 2) Regulations 2007:
Home Information Pack (No 2) Regulations 2007
OPSI.gov.uk website:
Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007
One of many private firms offering EPC assessments:
Landlords EPC
HCR Register website:
HCR Register

Blinds EN13120:2009+A1:2014, released in February 2014, strengthens the child safety elements of the standard. The main standard is supported by two additional standards: EN 16433:2014 and EN 16434:2014 which relate to testing requirements.

All existing blinds need fitting with cleats (a devise that you fit onto the wall that the cords can be wrapped around to keep them safe) + 15cm from floor or have breakaway devises (Snap connectors) fitted.

http://www.makeitsafe.org.uk/residential/auotomated-shading/

Legionnaires Disease - Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) makes provision for relevant health and safety legislation to apply to landlords to ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants' with regard to their health and safety.

Regulations regarding tanks, stagnant water and temperature of water - Landlords are required to perform a risk assessment for Legionnaire's Disease. If they don't do this they could be issued with a fine.  Top Hat can get this done for you - currently £85 per property.  This needs re doing for each new Tenant or change of system.  Tenants must all be educated on the Risks and prevention of Legionnaires.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l8.htm

Right to Rent - The Immigration Act 2014 applies to all Tenants - all Landlords must check the Immigration status of all Tenants and proof held on file.  Top Hat adheres to this regulation via our Tenant Reference Company & our own forms

https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/preparing-landlords-for-the-right-to-rent.shtml?zoom_highlight=right+to+rent


Insurance

Insurance In a world where anything can happen, it is important to consider your insurance options so as to best protect your investment. We are Introducers for HomeLet who can offer a range of insurance products designed specifically for the lettings market.


Investment

With typical returns of up to 7% achievable on capital investment in residential property to let in much of the UK, the buy-to-let market provides a highly efficient long-term investment medium.

Pre-purchase Guidance
Our considerable local experience in this field, together with our independent status, means that we are able to provide practical and impartial advice on such matters as the type of property and the area that you should consider to suit your circumstances. Pre-purchase guidance is available free of charge.

Post-purchase Refurbishment
From minor works to complete refurbishment, we are able to assist in the process of preparing the property for letting in a variety of ways, including the arranging and supervising of redecoration and repairs, carpeting, curtaining and furnishings. Our relationship with local suppliers and tradespeople ensures competitive pricing and quality workmanship. Our fees for arranging and supervising refurbishment works are a minimum of 10% of the total expenditure which is usually discounted from the Sub Contractor as an Introductory Fee therefore not costing you. We have a Mortgage Broker that we highly recommend.

Ongoing Management
Our Letting and Management Service is summarised at the top of this page.

We hope that you find the above information useful. If there are any aspects of which you are unsure, please ask us. We look forward to being of assistance to you in the letting and management of your property.

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