Questions Frequently Asked By Landlords

Q. On what basis should I let my property?

A. This depends on your circumstances. Normally landlords will want to regain possession of their property at some point and in order to be able to do this it is best to let the property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which will enable possession to be recovered at the end of the tenancy if required.

Q. Should I let the property unfurnished or furnished?

A. This is a matter of personal choice. You will generally obtain a slightly higher rent for furnished property but there is the prospect of wear and tear on your belongings. It is a fact of life that tenants often do not take as much care of your property as you would. If you are letting your own home (as opposed to an investment property) you will probably not wish to run the risk of damage to your furniture. In addition you must be aware of the cost of depreciation of furnishings as well as the need to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Q. How long should I let for?

A. We normally recommend that you let for an initial period of 6 months, which is long enough to encourage applicants but short enough to regain possession if the tenant turns out to be unsatisfactory. If you have good a tenant who wants to renew at the end of the first 6 months we normally suggest that the next tenancy be extended to a year, which reduces your administration fees.

Q. How long will it take Tuffins to let my property?

A. No matter what any one tells you, it is impossible to guarantee to let any house in a specified period. Letting is affected by market conditions, the type of property, it's location, the level of rent and the number of restrictions placed on the tenancy. The higher the rent and the more exclusions, such as no pets, no smokers, no Housing Benefit, no children, the longer it will take to let. Normally we hope to be able to find a suitable tenant in a maximum of 3 to 4 weeks but depending on market conditions we may let your property more or less quickly.

Q. How do I know what rent to charge?

A. Our experienced management team will be able to advise you on the rent which is appropriate for your property at any specific time. This may well vary depending on market conditions as the laws of supply and demand apply. Our aim is to maximise the rent without prejudicing the letting and we use our considerable knowledge of the local market to achieve this.

Q. When and how would I receive my rent from Tuffins?

A. We normally require all tenants to pay their rent by standing order on a monthly basis. We have computerised accounts and direct computer links with our bank and monitor the receipt of standing orders every working day. As standing orders are effectively cleared funds we are able to prepare your statement and send the rent (less our fees and any repair bills etc) direct to your account two days after the standing order is received. The rent will be credited to your account two working days later. Tenants' cheque payments have to be cleared and we allow five working days before sending rent to you.

Q. How do Tuffins vet the prospective tenants?

A. All prospective tenants are referenced through Homelet Referencing Service which checks for County Court judgements, previous landlords and employment. We will generally not recommend any tenant to you that does not pass this checking procedure, although there may be special circumstances where a tenant could still be accepted, e.g. if they pay the full 6 months' rent in advance.

Q. Should I accept tenants on Housing Benefit?

A. Housing Benefit is usually paid two or four weeks in arrears so your tenant will always be behind with the rent. Generally the rent gets paid eventually but any change in the tenant's circumstances can lead to considerable delays. We also normally recommend that a guarantor is provided, this is essential if you wish to take out the Rental Warranty Insurance.

Q. Should I accept tenants with pets?

A. This is a matter of personal choice. We recommend that an additional deposit be taken, or a retention is agreed at the end of the tenancy, usually about £100, to cover the cost of cleaning carpets, possible flea dis-infestation and deodorising. We can include a special "pets clause" in the agreement to give conditional consent to certain pets.

Q. What happens if a tenant damages my property?

A. The purpose of the tenant's deposit is to cover the cost of possible damage. In the unlikely event that damage occurs we would retain the tenants deposit until the cost of repairs is established and would only refund the difference once the works are completed, unless it is disputed by the tenant in which case it would be passed to the Deposit Protection Scheme. In addition we take preventative measures against damage by carrying out regular inspections, the first being 12 weeks after the start of tenancy by which time it is usually possible to establish the nature of the tenant.

Q. Who holds the tenant's deposit and how much is this?

A. We recommend that a deposit equivalent to 6 weeks rent be taken from the tenant, as security against damage being caused to the property. We hold the deposit as members of the Deposit Protection Scheme as the money does not belong to the landlord. We only return it to the tenant at the end of the tenancy if you are happy with the condition of the property. The  Deposit Protection Scheme gives tenants the right to challenge retention and apply for independent arbitration of disputes.

Q. What happens if a repair is needed to the property?

A. If you use our Full Management Service we can arrange repairs for you using a reputable and competitively priced contractor from our own list, or we can use your own preferred contractor. Either way we endeavour to attend to urgent problems, such as water leaks, defective central heating, electrical problems, the same day, and other repairs within seven days. We can pay contractors, with your agreement, from rents received but with larger works may have to ask you to send additional funds. No addition charge is made by us as this is part fo our management service.

Q. I have heard something about a Gas Certificate. What is this?

A. Under the Gas Safety Installation User Regulations 1994, all gas appliances (whether mains or bottled gas) in let property must be checked annually by a CORGI registered tradesman and each appliance must be provided with a Landlords Gas Safety Certificate. It is a criminal offence not to have a valid certificate. You should also be aware of the need to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

Q. What is an EPC and do I need one?

A. An EPC is an Energy Performance Certificate and as from 01/10/08 it is mandatory to have one before a property is marketed for sale or to rent. It is prepared by an independent qualified assessor and rates the energy efficiency of the property and recommends appropriate improvements. It last for 10 years and costs approximately £50 - £75 depending on the property size.

Q. Do I need to have the electrical installation and appliances tested?

A. You have a duty of care to your tenants to ensure that the electrical installation is safe and on a first letting it is our policy to ask landlord's to provide an up to date certificate from an NICEIC qualified contractor, which we can arrange on your behalf if you wish. Charges vary at around £80 plus VAT and experience tells us that most properties require some repairs or upgrading of the installation for which the testing contractor will give a separate price. Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 you have a legal obligation to have all Landlords appliances tested annually at a cost of about £35 plus VAT

Q. What do Tuffins charge for their management services?

A. Our Letting Only fee is 50% of one month's rent with a minimum of £200 plus VAT. If you use our Full Management Service there is an initial setting up charge of £150 plus VAT and a monthly management fee once the property is let. Our Full Management fee is 12% of the monthly rent, plus VAT . We are always willing to negotiate special rates where a portfolio of property is managed and will be pleased to quote specific fees after inspection of your properties. Please click "Charges" for details of other charges which may apply to different aspects of the management of your property.

Q. What do I do if I have a grievance in respect of Tuffins' services?

A. Tuffins are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveys and the Association of Residential Letting Agents. In the unlikely event that you are dissatisfied with our service, we will do whatever we can to put matters right. If we are unable to satisfy you, there is a grievance procedure which you can follow to independent adjudication and ultimately to either the RICS and ARLA. As part of our commitment to excellence in the service we provide, we will assist you in pursuing that course if you wish.

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Company No: 6663096

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