Lettings Guide

Some Commonly Asked Questions

Aside from “How much will my property rent for?” these are the 10 most commonly asked question we hear from new landlords.

What are the compliance issues?

landlords-lettings-guide
In recent years the private rental sector has increasingly been the subject of new regulatory requirements from both the UK and Scottish governments.

Normally we will advise on conformance with these requirements and coordinate any work required to gain full compliance with the latest regulations.

The current requirements which have to be considered are outlined below.

  • Landlord Gas Safety Inspection.  This will be required if your property has one or more gas appliances.  The inspection must be carried by a Gas Safe registered engineer, who will forward a record of the inspection.  A copy of this record must be given to your tenant prior to the start of the tenancy.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector.  One will be required in every room which has a fixed combustion device, such as a gas fire or boiler.  Devices which are used exclusively for cooking are excluded.
  • Energy Performance Certificate.  This gives an actual and potential energy efficiency rating and has been a requirement since November 2009.  It is included as part of a standard home report in Scotland.  A copy should be posted at the property and made available to all viewers.  The certificate should be obtained prior to commencement of marketing and displayed on all property advertising.
  • Electrical Inspection.  From December 2015 electrical inspections will be mandatory for all new tenancies.  There are strict rules about who can carry out these inspections and what they must cover.
  • Legionella Risk Assessment.  This should be carried out prior to any tenants being moved into the property.
  • Landlord Registration.  All private landlords in Scotland must apply for approval as a ‘fit and proper person’ prior to letting their property.  The application should be made prior to commencement of the tenancy.
  • Smoke detectors.  The ‘statutory guidelines’ state that a smoke detector should be installed in each lounge and circulation area such as hallways.  A heat detector should be installed in the kitchen.  All detectors should be mains wired and interlinked.  There are several requirements in relation to smoke detectors which can be seen at the Private Rented Housing Panel website.
  • Tenants Deposit Protection.  All tenant’s security deposits must now be submitted to a deposit protection scheme which has been approved by the Scottish government.  The deposit must be submitted within 30 days of the start of the tenancy.

How much does compliance cost?

This will depend on how much has to be done but in a typical two bedroom flat where a smoke detector has not been fitted and all checks have to be completed the cost would be around £600.

How long will it take to rent my property?

The main factor here will be the asking rent in relation to the presentation of your property.  It is important to have your property looking and smelling fresh and clean.  If the paintwork is tired or dirty, re-decoration will pay dividends.  We will provide advice on the going rent for a well presented similar property in the same area but this can be adjusted up or down depending on your risk appetite.  All other things being equal the higher you set the price the fewer applicants you will have and the longer it will take to rent.

Another factor worth considering is the lead time between securing a tenant and the start of the tenancy.  Often a let will be agreed within a few days but the entry date will be three weeks later.  This is particularly true with unfurnished property, where it is not unusual to find viewers who are looking to move in six weeks.

How much does the service cost?

We have a simple pricing structure.  Our full management rate is 10% of rent collected and our re-letting fee is £200.  The re-letting fee is payable each time we market your property and secure a tenant and is recovered when we receive your first rent.  Both the management commission and the re-letting fee are subject to VAT at the prevailing rate.  You will never be subject to any other fees for our services.

Note that we almost never take payment for anything in advance.  When we take on the management of your property, we simply sign an agreement and start preparing and marketing your property.  When your tenant moves in and starts paying rent we will recover any outlays we have made on your behalf as well as any fees due.

How do you go about vetting tenant applicants?

All applicants are subject to a credit check and a proof of residency test.  Other than that the criteria depend on the individual circumstances of the applicant.  If the applicant is a student we will require a guarantor and a previous landlord reference.  For a working person we will ask for an employer’s reference and a previous landlord reference.  For self-employed people we will seek evidence of income from their accountant.

Are you a member of any Accreditation bodies?

Yes, we are members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS) and The Property Ombudsman (TPOS).  If a landlord or tenant has an unresolved complaint or grievance against us they are able to seek redress through these bodies.  TPOS in particular has significant powers, including the ability to award compensation of up to £50000 to a tenant or landlord.

What if my tenant is late with their rent?

We will pursue late rents within a few days and keep you informed of progress.  We use a variety of communication mechanisms including SMS, email, telephone and letter.  Each case has to be dealt with differently however there are some general guidelines which we use.  The main thing is to keep communication open.  If the tenant does not respond to our requests we will arrange an inspection visit.  If the rent becomes one month late we will normally serve notice after consulting with the landlord.

What if my tenant stops paying their rent?

This is the situation which haunts most landlords.  As explained above we will normally serve notice to quit when rent is one month late.  Usually we reach some agreement with the tenant and arrange a departure date.  If the tenant persistently withholds rent and does not communicate we would take legal action to recover vacant possession.  We maintain good relationships with our tenants and we have never had to take eviction proceedings in over 500 tenancies.

What if I have my own contractors for maintenance work?

We are able to store details of your own contractors and call on them when an appropriate maintenance even occurs at your property.  You simply enter their details on our Management Information Form and we will set the appropriate alerts in our software system.

Why should I choose Western Lettings?

  • You will find that our prices are keen and our service is hard to beat.
  • In October 2017 we were voted Best Agency in Scotland at the Negotiator Awards.
  • We are currently ranked 5th out of 2385 letting agents in the UK on the independent review website Freeindex.
  • You can take comfort from the fact that we are members of The Property Ombudsman Service (TPOS) and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
  • We have comprehensive professional indemnity and public liability insurance.
  • We hold comprehensive client money protection (CMP) insurance.
  • When you call us a member of staff will answer your call and deal efficiently with your query.