Advice for Letting Property
Our knowledge of the Swindon rental market, coupled with a tailored approach to advertising, will help you set an achievable rent and find the right Tenant.
We can give you advice on preparing your property to go onto the market as well as anything else to do with being a Landlord. We are happy to chat with you over the phone as every property and scenario if different.
We don’t ask for anything for this service as we are happy to help even if you aren’t currently signed with Forefront. All we ask for in return is that you recommend or consider swapping to Forefront in the future.
We have also listed the main points to consider when looking to let your Swindon property.
Property Appraisal and Valuation
We offer an independent assessment of your property by one of our trained and experienced lettings team. This is free of charge and with absolutely no obligation.
On visiting the property, our letting agents will also provide informed advice on any work required to meet regulatory requirements, as well as other actions you may need to take before you let your property, including necessary repairs and refurbishments.
It is important that you set a rent that is competitively priced, fair and achievable. Using our extensive knowledge of the local rental market, we will assess how much your property could achieve in the current climate. Our rental valuation will take into consideration the location, size, standard and condition of the property and whether it will be let furnished, part furnished or unfurnished.
Effective Advertising and Marketing
At Forefront, we use the very latest technology and proven marketing techniques to advertise our rental properties.
We advertise your property to let on all the major property portals including Rightmove and Zoopla. We're a local online agent, this means that our website has been designed and written with the local marketplace in mind. Our site is 'responsive', meaning user experience is never confined by the size of the screen; whether someone is viewing your property listing on a smartphone, desktop or tablet the site will adjust to the users' screen. This gives your rental property the highest possible online exposure, whichever device your potential tenant chooses to use.
High quality, professional photographs and floor plans are fundamental in order to present your property in the best possible way. We take the time to capture the best picture of each room to show off its best features. Our floor plans are included within our fee as we feel they are an essential tool to help attract the high-quality tenants.
Using a number of marketing techniques, we work hard to ensure the property you have to let gets maximum exposure. Our online marketing activity includes social media through our Facebook pages and Twitter account and we also advertise via local magazines, radio and ‘To Let’ boards.
We tailor our marketing approach to the type of tenant you're looking for, in order to attract genuine interest. Once instructed one of the first things we do is to match a property with a list of waiting tenants and send them your property details by email.
Securing The Most Suitable Tenant
As a Landlord, you need peace of mind that the right tenants will be living and looking after your property. All potential tenants on our rental database are pre-qualified by us before viewings, to ensure they are suitable.
All property viewings are accompanied and conducted when needed by a fully trained member of our lettings team and we provide prompt and honest feedback. We will keep you up-to-date on progress and will let you know as soon as someone applies for your property.
We conduct tenant referencing, Immigration and credit checks on your behalf using a specialist Referencing Agency. This vetting service process is a critical step to securing a reliable Tenant for you.
Preparing Your Property to Let – The Legal Essentials
Our experienced Letting agents will provide you with the latest information and guidance to ensure you meet all your legal obligations as a Landlord.
Energy Performance Certificate
All properties for rent must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before any marketing or viewings can take place. An EPC rates energy efficiency and its environmental impact and is valid for 10 years for rental properties. A copy of the EPC must be made available to tenants before entering into a tenancy agreement. If you don't have an EPC for your property, Forefront can arrange an inspection for you.
Under the Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulations 1998, Landlords have a legal obligation to make sure all gas pipework, appliances, fittings and flues are safe to use and maintained in a safe condition. Every gas appliance and flu must be tested for gas safety every 12 months. A gas safety record must be provided to existing Tenants within 28 days of the annual safety check, or to new Tenants before they move in, and you must keep copies yourself for two years. All installation, maintenance and safety checks must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. We can arrange this for you.
Furniture and Furnishings (fire) (Safety) (Amendments) Regulations 2010
Upholstered furniture and soft furnishings supplied in a rented property must comply with current regulations. This includes, but is not limited to, bed frames, mattresses, headboards, sofa beds, pillows, cushions, seat pads and any garden furniture that may be used indoors. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. All non-compliant items must be removed before a Tenant moves in. Bedding, carpets, curtains and any furniture made before 1950 are exempt.
Landlords are required to ensure that the electrical installation in a rented property is safe when Tenants move in and maintained in safe condition. Although not a legal requirement, it is strongly recommended that you have the property inspected and tested by a registered electrician every 5 years and arrange Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Test) once a year to ensure electrical appliances are safe and fit for purpose.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Since October 2015 new regulations require Landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their rental property and test them at the start of every Tenancy and to install carbon monoxide alarms in high-risk rooms such as those where a solid fuel heating system or boiler is installed.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHRS)
If your property is rented out, your local council may decide to do an HHSRS inspection. Inspectors look at 29 health and safety areas.
Consent to Let
If your property is mortgaged, you must obtain written consent to let from your mortgage lender. If it is leasehold, your lease may require written consent from your Landlord before you can sub-let.
Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
If your property is let to at least three tenants who share the toilet, bathroom, or kitchen facilities but are not from one household or family – sometimes called a ‘house share’ – it is a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO). Depending on the size of the property, the number of tenants and the area, you are likely to need an HMO licence from your local council plus an HHSRS inspection. We can advise you of this.
Landlords are required by law to take out buildings insurance for rental properties. We advise our landlords to also consider contents insurance and policies to cover rent guarantee and legal expenses.
Letting Your Property – Moving Your Tenants In
Our professional letting service ensures everything is in place for a smooth and trouble-free start to renting out your property.
This is a legally binding agreement, setting out the rights and obligations of both landlord and tenant. Most residential property is let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) for an initial fixed term of 6 or 12 months. We can advise on all the options available to help you make an informed decision on the areas of responsibility, conditions of tenancy, how and when the rent will be reviewed and notice terms. We will prepare all the paperwork and draw up a comprehensive legal document for signing.
If we are fully managing your tenancy and rental property for you, then the Tenancy Agreement will include those activities we will be responsible for on your behalf.
Inventory/Schedule of Condition
All inventories produced by Forefront on behalf of Landlords contain a full written description of your property, its contents and schedule of condition inside and out including the walls, flooring and all fixtures, fittings and furnishings provided with photographic evidence. This provides crucial legal reference in case of any discrepancy or claim against the tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Utilities and Council Tax
Usually, it is the tenant’s responsibility to pay utility bills and council tax. We can organise all meter readings so that the transfer of water rates, gas, electricity, telephone, TV licence and council tax accounts can be transferred to the tenant. Landlords are responsible for closing off their accounts in-between tenancies and settling any bills covering this time.
A deposit is paid by the tenant at the start of the tenancy to safeguard against damage. Since April 2007, all new Assured Shorthold Tenancies must be regulated with a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme within 30 days of receipt of the deposit. If we are not providing this service for you then you would need to register the deposit with a TDP scheme yourself. Landlords should be aware that there are significant penalties for failing to comply with Deposit Protection requirements.
We normally collect a deposit from the tenant which is equal to one month’s rent. Forefront is registered with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) which means your tenant’s deposit will be held by the DPS for the duration of the tenancy. We will register deposits on your behalf and liaise with their dispute service should the need arise at the end of a tenancy. We will also provide your tenant with the name and contact details of the DPS and its dispute resolution service which is a legal requirement.
You should provide at least one set of keys for each tenant. Where Forefront will be managing the property for you, we will also require a full set which will be coded for security purposes.
Letting Your Property – Day to Day Management
Where a Landlord has taken Forefront’s Full Lettings Management Service we take care of your property, Tenancy arrangements, Tenant and your Landlord duties throughout the Tenancy.
Forefront offers a Rent Collection Service on its own or as part of its Fully Managed Letting Service for busy Landlords. We collect rent monthly unless the Tenancy Agreement specifies otherwise. Occasionally Tenants may experience financial difficulties and our rent collection service includes chasing any late payments. We will notify you at the earliest opportunity of any rent arrears. You can protect against loss of rental income with an insurance policy. We can suggest one if you wish.
We pay rent to Landlords monthly by BACS (net of our fees and any disbursements, bills and income tax if appropriate) and provide monthly income and expenditure records.
Rental income and Taxation
As a Landlord, you are responsible for assessing your own tax for rent received. Below is some basic guidance on taxation matters relevant to Landlords; however, we would always recommend you seek independent financial advice from an accountant on tax matters.
1. Income Tax
Rental income is liable to tax, although a number of expenditures items can be offset against rental profit. You would also need to pay Class 2 National insurance if the work you do counts as running a property business.
Our management fees are deductible from your rental profit.
2. Overseas landlords
Under the Non-Resident Landlord (NRL) Scheme, your Letting Agent will need to deduct tax from the rental income and pay the tax directly to HM Revenue & Customs. If you choose not to use a Lettings Agent to collect rent, then your Tenant will be legally responsible for collecting and paying the tax to HMRC. Alternatively, Landlords living overseas can apply for approval to receive rental income with no tax deducted. Full details of the NRL Scheme are available from HMRC.
Inspections, maintenance and repairs
The practicalities of being a Landlord can be very time-consuming. With our full property management services, we take care of all the day to day management and upkeep of your rental property so you don’t need to worry.
We will carry out regular routine inspections – usually quarterly – at a mutually convenient time agreed with the tenant. This will involve visual inspections, assessing any wear and tear, and organising maintenance and compliance checks. If we identify any problems we will advise you and, dependant on our agreement with you, we can arrange for repairs and any work to be done on the property and pay for this out of the rent received. We have a network of reliable and trustworthy contractors we can call on to deal with routine repairs or emergencies at very competitive rates.
Tenancy renewals, reviews and notices
Forefront will handle all Tenancy renewals, including rental reviews for you. If you decide to increase the rent, we will issue the relevant notice informing your Tenants. If you wish to end a Tenancy, we will serve notice to your Tenants in line with all legal process and timing requirements and manage all the end of Tenancy administration.
End of tenancy checks and deposit returns
At the end of a Tenancy, the Landlord should ensure the property is in a good, clean condition before the Tenant checks out, take back the keys and formally take possession of the property. Assuming there are no issues and all the paperwork is completed, utility companies notified and you have a forwarding address for the Tenant, the Landlord should return the Tenants deposit. This is all included as part of the Forefronts' full property management service.
No Landlord wants a vacant property. If a tenancy is not renewed, we offer landlords who take our managed letting service an automatic property appraisal, rental valuation and remarketing service until we find a new tenant.
- Ensure you have a valid Energy Performance Certificate before any Tenant viewings take place.
- Obtain Consent to Let from mortgage lender or lease holder and arrange suitable building insurance.
- Check that your Gas Safety certificate is up to date and provide a copy to your new Tenants before they move in.
- Ensure any furniture and soft furnishings comply with current Fire Safety Regulations.
- Ensure the electrical system is safe and fit for purpose, and arrange PAT testing of any portable appliances you are providing.
- Check with your local authority to see if you require an HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) licence for your property.
- Ensure the Tenancy Agreement covers all the required terms and obligations, is legally binding and signed by all parties.
- Prepare a comprehensive inventory and schedule of condition with photographic evidence.
- Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted and are working correctly.
- Notify your local authority of the new Tenancy details for Council Tax Purposes.
- Arrange for all meter readings to be taken and transfer utility bills to the Tenant.
- Get a duplicate set of keys cut for each Tenant plus and 2 extra sets - one for your own use and one for the Agent.
- Arrange for post to be forwarded on for any previous Tenant or occupier of the property.
- Ensure you have registered the deposit with one of the government-backed tenancy deposit schemes.
- Contact HMRC with any questions about self-assessment, or for details about the NRL Scheme if you are living or working overseas.