Student Homes Guide for Landlords 2014/2015

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1 Student Homes Guide for Landlords 2014/ Last Updated: April 2015 Student Homes of University of London Housing Services (ULHS). Introduction: The University of London Student Homes scheme has been in operation as an independent self-financing section of the ULHS since We pride ourselves on offering a unique management service to property owners and strive to maintain a good relationship with all of the landlords we work with. Almost all of our lettings are successful, with both happy landlords and student tenants. We feel that this is because we help landlords and student tenants avoid disputes, by giving clear information about what they are each responsible for, and advice and guidance as to how any issues that do arise can be satisfactorily addressed. The aim of this guide is to provide you with detailed information regarding issues and areas that you need to be aware of and consider/comply with when letting your property to us. Some sections may be of more use to you than others. We always welcome feedback so if you have any suggestions as to additional content that you would like to see included in this guide, or have any suggestions as to how we can improve the service we offer to you generally, please do get in touch. Tel: Our OFFICE HOURS am to 5.00 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday am to 5.00 pm on Tuesday The office is usually open on Saturdays from am to 2.00 pm in September

2 2 Documentation the University will require BEFORE commencement of the lease agreement: 1. Proof of ownership of property (Land Registry certificate). Where applicable we will also need confirmation from your mortgage company to lease to the University. If you don t have a certificate you can obtain one from the Land Registry 2. Permission to let from your mortgage company (e.g. if the mortgage is not a specific buy to let mortgage). 3. Details of any leasehold agreement with a Superior Landlord i.e. where you have purchased the leasehold of a property which forms part of a Local Authority estate. 4. Building Insurance Policy Schedule. 5. Gas Safety Inspection Certificate from a Gas Safe registered company 6. Proof of gas maintenance service agreement. We require all our properties to have a service agreement in place to cover repairs on your boiler and central heating. We strongly recommend that you also take out cover on electrics, plumbing and drains. British Gas have a plan called Landlord Pro. This will cover all repairs on these items and provide a Gas Safety Certificate as well as a 24 hour helpline for the tenants to call. *We have a bulk policy in place with British Gas whereby owners can benefit from the Home Care 400 cover, but at a reduced price. If you re interested in this service, please contact us for further details. Additional cover can be added onto the cover for your property for instance appliance cover. 7. Electrical Test Certificate from an NICEIC contractor 8. HMO certificate (if applicable) 9. Energy Performance Certificate Income Tax FICO number (applicable to Landlords who live abroad). (For resident landlords, please note the University s obligations under Inland Revenue requirements). Property Availability: Any major maintenance and other work must be scheduled when your property is empty and it must have been completed prior to the signing of a new lease with the University. This will avoid disputes and claims for compensation, arising when redecoration, furnishing or major maintenance work is being dealt with when student tenants are either in or about to move into their accommodation.

3 3 Cleaning: All properties must be professionally cleaned before the first tenancy for our students begins. Student Homes will arrange for your property to be professionally cleaned at the end of each tenancy we manage for you. You ll receive details about when the professional clean at your property will be carried out a couple of months before the current tenancy at your property is due to end. Decoration: Some properties may be due for decoration, either in part or throughout. We recommend that you use neutral colours and vinyl silk paint as it is easier to wash off marks with this type of paint. (Matt paint marks much more easily, and cannot be washed down as successfully, meaning you ll need to decorate more frequently). We ask that you supply and fit noticeboards in all bedrooms. Students like to put posters up and personalise their rooms. By providing large notice boards they will not need to use blu-tac to hang posters which can cause damage to the walls. It also helps us to ensure the tenants have the information they may need we can add fire safety and out of hours notices to provided noticeboards. ELECTRICITY/GAS APPLIANCES: Electrical safety: We require a copy of an electrical safety inspection certificate issued by a qualified electrician (NICIEC) before we sign a lease with you. More information on your obligations as a landlord can be found on this website: In particular, please read the landlord guide which sets out clearly your obligations: Legislation regarding electrical work carried out in domestic properties has been brought in under Part P of the Building Regulations. Anyone carrying out fixed electrical installation work in a dwelling has to comply with the above regulations. Work that falls under this has to be notified to the local Building Control body before work starts, unless: - The proposed work is carried out by a Competent Person (an individual or a company authorised to self-certify compliance on completion of the work). These are contractors who are members of NICEIC or other authorised trade bodies who will already have applied to be able to self-certify electrical works. More information can be found here - The proposed work is of a minor nature.

4 4 Please note that if you arrange electrical repairs that fall under these regulations, we will need a copy of the certificate that will be issued by your electrician when the work is carried out. Gas safety: All gas appliances in a property must be maintained in a safe condition. If there is a gas boiler in the property it will require a landlord to provide a Gas Safety Certificate. Maintenance: pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer s instructions. If these are not available it is recommended that they are serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Gas safety checks: a 12 monthly gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue. A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use. More information can be found at The University will require a copy of the current gas safety certificate and a copy of any new certificate that is issued. Fire Precautions and Regulations [New, March 2015* - Carbon Monoxide Detection]: Landlords must ensure that their properties have adequate fire safety precautions and where necessary carry out a fire risk assessment. Student Homes will update the fire risk assessment, as necessary, as a matter of course when we manage your property. *If you d like to receive a copy of the report for any fire risk assessments that we undertake please let us know. You are responsible for complying with statutory fire regulations, and you should consult your local Department of the Environment, or an independent Environmental Health Surveyor, to ascertain the necessary upgrading requirements. There are still no national regulations regarding fire precautions in rented accommodation however, in future, (depending on the size of the property) the minimum the University will accept is a heat detector alarm in the kitchen and a smoke detector outside the kitchen. It must be wired together to ensure simultaneous warning in the event of fire and the system must be supplied by mains electricity from an independent circuit and be provided with a battery back-up. March 2015: We ve just received advice from our solicitors that a bill regarding Carbon Monoxide detectors being supplied in rented accommodation has just been passed/looks very likely to pass soon. As such, we re asking all of our owners to supply and fit a carbon monoxide detector in their property by the boiler. We d advise that wall mounting this will be the best option so that it doesn t go astray.

5 5 Details regarding this legislation can be accessed through the following link, which will open a PDF file via your web browser: &uact=8&ved=0cdwqfjae&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.parliament.uk%2fbriefing- papers%2fsn06979.pdf&ei=7pmbva6sg8g-uqohgmaj&usg=afqjcngcjfctdpwmpa5- AmZVFaPmV9d_JA You can purchase Carbon Monoxide detectors from roughly 13 upwards from the likes of B&Q, Homebase, and Tesco etc. We ll test these alarms for you during our termly property inspections and advise the tenants to replace the batteries as/when necessary. House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing: Landlords letting the largest HMO s, those on three or more storeys with five or more people in two or more households living in them, must apply for a mandatory licence. Some local authorities may choose to license landlords with smaller HMO s as well (this is referred to as additional licensing ). For the purposes of licensing a household comprises any tenants who are members of the same family living together including couples (whether or not they are married), relatives and half-relatives or step-relatives, adopted and fostered children. A group of friends, (such as a group of students) sharing a house will not be a single household. For more information, please contact the local authority whose borough your property is located within for information on how to apply for a licence, how much it will cost, and whether additional or selective licensing will be used locally. For information on mandatory HMO licensing in England and how to work out whether your property is affected see Energy Performance Certificates: Landlords will require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which must be made available to prospective tenants. An EPC rates a property s energy performance and makes recommendations for improvements. It is valid for 10 years. Landlords are not obliged to carry out any recommendations but prospective tenants will no doubt be considering the EPC when deciding which property they rent. Landlords may be eligible for grants to improve the energy efficiency of a home. Schemes include the Landlord Energy Saving Allowance, which allows private and corporate landlords to reclaim income tax for the installation of some energy saving measures.

6 6 Furnishings and equipment: All furniture and furnishings supplied must meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishing (Fire) (Safety) Regulations Furnishings pre-1950 are exempt. Most furniture should have a manufacturer s label confirming whether it meets the requirements and it is this labelling which we will inspect. Guidance is in the booklet A Guide to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations, available, free, from DTI Consumer Safety Publications, Admail 528, London SW1W 8YT, telephone Appliances installed in a property and listed on the inventory must be operational. For safety reasons you should not supply second-hand electric or gas equipment. During a tenancy, if it is necessary to provide any new electric or gas equipment, it will have to be inspected by a relevant qualified contractor and a safety certificate issued. This is of particular relevance in the case of gas equipment. Heating: The gas central heating will need to be covered by a British Gas Home Care service contract or a similar contract. This is especially important if, for instance, the heating breaks down when the office is closed, particularly over the Christmas period where our office will be closed for some 10 or so days. We strongly recommend that you increase this cover to include the electrics, plumbing and drains. See page 2 for details regarding the bulk policy that the University have in place with British Gas, which you could make a saving through (as we take out a large amount of cover, we have negotiated a discount on the overall cover cost for you). Our student tenants are advised to leave the central heating on at a low temperature when they vacate the property for an extended period of time such as during the Christmas holiday period. Income Tax: The University is obliged to disclose to the Inland Revenue personal data such as the name and address of a landlord or organisation who lease their property to the University and details regarding the rental amount paid to you in a given tax year. Inspections: We carry out termly visits to the property. If you wish to attend these inspections, please contact your Property Manager. We do think that it is useful if for you to visit your property during the tenancy, please ensure that this should be arranged through this office and never directly through the student-tenants. Our property managers are happy to meet and accompany you on visits if they are available.

7 7 Insurance: The building and contents insurance must be adequate for the property (as provided by the cover in a Householder/House Owners Comprehensive Policy), and it is important for you to inform your insurance company that your property is rented for the duration of the lease. The insurance cover should pay out on damage to student belongings through no cause of their own like water damage, due to a leaking roof for instance. Significant difficulties can arise where there is inadequate insurance, and whilst we appreciate it will increase your premium to take into account damage, you should ensure that your insurance covers the above type of events. Inventory and Schedule of Condition: If you have had the accommodation cleaned by contractors, then it is important that a receipted invoice is provided as evidence, similarly with new furniture and decoration. Items listed on the inventory must be in the property, be in working order, and maintained throughout the tenancy. The turnaround time at the end of tenancy is very tight and any major works needed should be scheduled in for this week: minor remedial works should be addressed as they arise throughout the tenancy. It would be very beneficial if you could check the property as soon as the closing inventory is carried out, and sent through to you, to check if there are any issues or to raise any queries you may have. Please liaise with your Property Manager in this respect. Lease: The University is your tenant, and acts as Landlord to the student tenants, and therefore you or your agent should not deal directly with student tenants. Locks: It is important for the student tenants, and their guests, to be able to exit your property through a door without the use of a key. You should ensure that all external doors can be easily opened at all times from the inside. If you fit a mortice lock, make sure you install one with a thumb turn which can open from the inside. Having a spare key by the door is not a satisfactory solution. Ownership: We will need to see up-to-date proof of property ownership before entering into an Agreement with you. If you feel that there may be some difficulties with your Building Society or Bank, please discuss this before going any further in letting your property to the University.

8 8 Rental payments: Payment of rent will not commence until an agreement has been signed between you and the University. It is important to note this in connection with any mortgage repayments. Payment for the decoration and any remedial work should be scheduled into the earnings you make on a property. It s also worth bearing in mind that a proportion of this will be taxable. Repairs and Maintenance: It is of vital importance that you do not deal with the student tenants directly (except in the case of emergency) as this can lead to misunderstandings and complaints. For your own protection please ensure that your contractors have adequate liability insurance cover. If the University is instructed to deal with repairs and other works, or has been required to do so, the cost of works will be deducted from one of your rental instalments. We ll notify you of our intention to do this, should this be necessary. In the case of emergency work, where we are unable to contact you, this will be undertaken on the instruction of this office, or out of hours, by students and the cost will again be deducted from your rent. *If you re going on holiday, or will not be contactable for a period of time, please let us know and where possible provide alternative contact details for a friend or family member who we can contact in your absence. Maintenance contracts are required for certain property services, e.g. on any automatic fire alarm system, which should include a quarterly test inspection of the system. Please ensure that Student Homes receive a copy of any paperwork relating to such inspections. You many find some of the contacts below useful, if you want to source contractors to undertake work in your property/ies for registered gas safe contractors in your area provides a list of approved electrical contractors for a plumber in your area provides names of builders. Trustmark is a not for profit organisation licensed by Government and supported by consumer protection groups. A list of trades people that have been rated by Which members. You need to be a member of Which to access this. The cost is 1 for a month s trail and then per month. The following are 2 commercial directories based on previous customer ratings:

9 9 Always remember to check a trader s credentials and that they are licensed for all the work you are asking them to do. (E.g. if they are working on the boiler that they are Gas Safe registered). Repairs: We understand that there are times when it s difficult, due to other commitments, to organise repairs. However, we need to be able to give our tenants realistic expectations of when they can expect necessary work to be carried out. This is why we have created a Priority System for repairs which is detailed with timescales and examples below: 1. Priority One (Within 24 hours): A repair that requires urgent attention, in order to avoid danger to health, risk to the safety of the tenants, or which has potential to cause significant damage to the property, or tenants belongings, if not promptly addressed. - For example serious leaks, boiler s breaking down (particularly in Winter), the gas supply being cut off, the only toilet in the property not working, a property requiring securing following a break in/attempted break in. 2. Priority Two (Within 5 working days): A repair which is inconvenient and will affect the comfort or convenience of tenants, but is not immediately pressing. - A shower requiring work (where there are more than one in the property, or where a bath is available instead), a mattress requiring replacement, a pest issue (where minor), or a small leak through the roof or a crack in a window. 3. Priority Three (Within 28 days): Non urgent day to day repairs. - For instance, replacing gutters, replacing windows, improvements in the property fitting a suited lock system, replacing door handles and so forth. This priority system is intended as a guide so that all parties involved have the same understanding of how repairs should be approached. We appreciate that some repairs are more complex than others, so while the initial visit by a contractor should be within the timescales outlined above where possible, if return visits are required following new parts having been sourced, or for another engineer to carry out work, this is acceptable. Please ensure that you keep us informed as to the progress of repairs so we can pass information onto the tenants. NB: If we don t hear back from you when we report repair matters to you, within a reasonable time, the University will seek to have these repairs carried out on your behalf. The cost of the necessary work will be deducted from your next monthly rent payment. The University is bound (through a contract) to use a specific company for all remedial works: the cost of any repairs the University has to order on your behalf are likely to be higher than

10 10 if you have the work carried out yourself. We will avoid ordering works within your property where possible; but, if we have to, we will book work with our own contractors. We will always you before we do this to let you know of our intentions. We hope this is helpful. If you have any questions or queries about this guide, or our service in general, please do feel free to get in touch. Kind regards, The Student Homes Team. Every effort is made to ensure that the information provided within this guide is accurate and up to date, but no legal responsibility can be accepted for any errors, omissions or misleading statements. If you have any questions, we are happy to discuss these with you and we would also recommend that you seek independent advice on any concerns you have.

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