Our landlords are at the very core of our business and we never take you for granted. From looking after the everyday management of your properties to coming up with new and innovative ways to make your life easier and more profitable, you can be certain that Keylet has you covered.
SIX REASONS YOU SHOULD CHOOSE KEYLET
We’re a magnet for good tenants
Keylet is one of Cardiff letting agent’s most recognizable brands attracting thousands of tenants every month. Our advanced technology and applicant management systems allow us to market your property to suitable tenants through both of our strategically placed offices.
As a first choice for landlords we complete a large number of valuations. This gives us a wide overview and in depth knowledge of property standards in the area and achievable prices. Our experience enables us to offer you honest feedback and advice.
Our comprehensive and innovative marketing ensures your properties receive maximum exposure across a variety of different media. We work with an extensive array of property portals so that awareness and accessibility of your property availability is maximised
Experience is Key
It takes skill and expertise to negotiate a tenancy from start to finish. Through training, experience and working in conjunction with NFOPP standards, our fully qualified team will offer expert advice on the letting and management process as well as your legal obligations as a landlord.
In line with our commitment to renting your property faster we guarantee to upload your property details onto our live website within 24 hours of receiving your signed confirmation of instruction.
We’ll keep you in the loop
We’ll keep you informed as much or as little as you like. We will offer honest and constructive feedback to secure a tenancy on your property faster and accurate advice to ensure that your best interests are protected at all times.
FROM LET TO RE-LET - KEYLET TAKE CARE OF YOUR BUSINESS
Choosing a Landlord Package that is Right for You
We offer two main packages, “Let Only” for landlords who take an active role in looking after their properties but need help finding tenants or “Full Management” for landlords who prefer to take a back seat and have all the hard work done for them.
We also offer a complete range of services which can be tailored in addition to our standard Management and Let Only package in order to meet your individual needs.
An experienced lettings adviser will meet you at your property to perform a free rental valuation and assessment. This assessment will take into consideration location, demand and condition of the accommodation, and if necessary, advice will be given on any areas which may require improvement.
Viewings & Tenant selection
Prospective tenants are required to meet in our office where they will discuss their requirements with a lettings advisor. They will then be chauffeured in one of our branded company vehicles to view suitable properties. Upon selection we will take the tenant through our referencing procedures to see if they meet our strict requirements.
A thorough vetting service of each tenant is conducted. Full references including financial profile and credit check together with an employment and previous landlord reference are conducted by an external company. Depending on the type of letting just a Financial Guarantor may be sufficient. In certain circumstances a combination of both are required.
Once a suitable tenant has been selected, we will organize the preparation and execution of an appropriate Tenancy Agreement and other legal documentation in accordance with current legislation.
All tenants are required to pay a security deposit of a minimum of one months rent, in some instances we will ask for an additional top up.
All deposits are registered with an approved deposit scheme in line with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme government regulations (www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit).
This deposit will be held by Keylet during the period of the tenancy and subsequent extensions in a secured client account. Please note this is not negotiable under any circumstances.
We will collect the rent on your behalf on the first day of every month by Direct Debit. Our accounts department will then process all payments and deductions and the remaining amount will be forwarded to your bank account via BACS by the 15th of every month.
You will then be sent a rental statement with a full breakdown of all payments through the post, and if requested, via email and SMS text.
During the tenancy, your property will be inspected three times a year. At the end of the tenancy our letting department will conduct a rent review (where applicable) and arrange the re-letting of your property without further instruction.
With the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme an inventory is now more important than ever before. An inventory is a record of the condition of the property at the commencement of the tenancy used to avoid any differences of opinion upon the tenants vacating. For an additional charge we can arrange for a full inventory to be conducted on your behalf.
If you do not provide us with a copy of an inventory prior to the commencement of any new tenancy then we will automatically arrange this for you. Please be advised that any personal or sentimental items should be removed before letting. Please note that our management service does not include supervision of your property when vacant.
Maintenance & repairs
At Keylet we pride ourselves on our high quality workmanship together with a fast and reliable workforce. We offer a comprehensive range of services from bleeding a radiator to full refurbishment of derelict houses. We have effective procedures in place when dealing with tenant problems, in order to eliminate any reoccurring problems that may arise. We use a range of contractors, from qualified electricians to multi skilled, general workers. Co-ordination of any repairs or maintenance to your property will be conducted up to a pre-agreed limit, and settlement of invoices will be deducted from the rent. You will be consulted for any expenditure in excess of £150, except in emergencies. All maintenance works instructed and managed on your behalf will incur a handling fee + VAT.
There is also an option of a part management service whereby you will take full responsibility for the coordination and management of all repairs and maintenance works at the property except in emergencies should we not be able to contact you. Please note, as part of the part management service, Keylet will not be held liable for any claims that may arise in the event of non performance or delay to maintenance works or repairs being completed by either you or your appointed contractor.
Purchasing property as an investment has made some of the wealthiest people in the world, whatever happens in the stock market, property remains an excellent medium to long term investments.
Keylet can provide a specialist service to introduce those individuals to the property market. This service will assist individuals who either do not wish to get involved with finding suitable property or investors who do not know the current local market and wish to use specialist knowledge before investing in property in Cardiff
Our registration process couldn’t be simpler. Get in touch with us direct and update us on your requirements. We will be on hand to advice you and help you chose the service to meet your needs.
Once you have registered your interest we will book in a valuation at your property. Our feedback is aimed to provide you with an accurate guide on the potential income from your investment. It will be honest and constructive to ensure the best possible results from the onset. With property markets changing a valuation acts as a valuable tool in helping you make decisions and financial plans based on your assets.
You can get an approximate idea of rental potential right now using out Online Valuation Tool – CLICK HERE
Confirmation of Instruction
We would be privileged to act as your appointed letting and/or managing agent. Should you decide that our services are just what you need we will need confirmation of your instruction in writing. During the property valuation our experienced representative will provide you our landlord registration pack. At this stage they will be on hand to answer any questions you may have and assist you in completing your forms. We request that you complete the registration pack and return the necessary documents to us as soon as possible so we can set about marketing your property.
Once we have received your completed registration pack we will input all of your details onto our systems. Rent amounts, availability and any specific requests you may have will be agreed. Our systems operate on a live feed direct to our website which guarantees that your property’s detail will be live on our systems for prospective tenants to access within 24 hours. From there the search for reliable tenants willing to pay the best possible price will begin! We will keep you informed of our progress at every stage with regular updates. Our efforts will continue until a tenancy has been secured.
Making technology work
Our advertising has always been focussed on the client, for over 18 years our advertising avenues have been a strong high street present with offices in Cardiff Bay and Cathays, we also produce high quality photos and floorplans to show off your property to its full potential. Our extended working hours during busy periods, especially in the student offices highlights our dedication to your property needs and our fully trained and qualified staff provide you the assurance that your property is in the best hands. However, in more recent years we have seen a shift in how people view properties, and with an increase in smartphones and faster internet speeds people are now starting their searches online.
Keylet have been pioneers in digital marketing for residential lettings and sales. We understand that your property should get the exposure it deserves and therefore our advertising strategy is centred on you.
As the UK’s leading property portal and ranked one of the top 5 websites in the UK, we list our available stock for sale and to let on this portal. Within hours, if you instruct Keylet as your agent, your property gets put in front of the thousands.
Due to its large volumes of data we can tell you how your property is performing compared to others and can list it as premium or featured property so you get ahead of the game.
We have created a Keylet Sales & Lettings app, available to download for free via Apple and Android. You can get this app for your mobile device or tablet, providing you with image focused searches, so you can get a better feel for the properties. You can also set up instant property alerts or use the other features such as the mortgage calculator.
We are currently ranked the most active letting agent on social media in Cardiff.*
We have accounts set up on a variety of different social media channels to ensure the optimum amount of impressions to a wider audience. People interact with us on our social media accounts on a daily basis, join in the discussion and follow our updates.
*According to Property Flock data 2015
Check the list
Below is a handy checklist for new landlords – and old – to help make the process of renting your property easier
- Mortgage lenders permission in writing, if applicable, to be obtained. A copy of the permission letter must be given to us before we can proceed to let the property.Head leaser’s permission in writing, if applicable (for Leasehold properties) to be obtained and a copy given to us.
- Your property and its contents to be adequately insured.
- Your property contents insurers to be made aware of your intention to let and that we have been informed of any stipulation imposed by them.
- An Energy Performance Assessment to be carried out. Please forward a copy of the report and certification to our office. If you would like us to arrange this on your behalf then please inform us at the time of registering your property.
- Gas fires, boiler etc to be tested and serviced. Please inform us of the name of the CORGI registered contractor who carried out the works and forward to us a copy of the appropriate Gas Safety Record at least five days before letting. Failure to do so will result in Keylet performing a gas safety check on your behalf, at an additional cost.
- Safety checks to be completed on all electrical appliances and equipment. Please forward a copy of your safety records and certification. Failure to do so will result in Keylet performing an electrical safety check on your behalf, at an additional cost.
- Any smoke detectors within the property to be fully tested.
- Your mail to be redirected.
- Full set of master keys to be forwarded to us, to include all rear exits, garages, outhouses, mail box, door entry fobs and car parking fobs.
- The refrigerator and/or freezer to be turned off and the doors left open.
- Ensure garden is in seasonal order and sufficient gardening equipment to be left as necessary.
- Operating instructions for all appliances to be left in the property.
- If you are going overseas, ensure you have made all the necessary arrangements with an accountant to handle all your tax commutations.
- Notify all utility companies of your departure and ensure all accounts are closed and that relevant companies have your forwarding address.
- Ensure the house is left clean and tidy.
- Complete and sign our Management Agreement, Confirmation of Instructions and provide two original forms of identification together with proof of ownership.
- Overseas landlords to have applied for tax exemption form.
Furniture & furnishings (Fire) (Safety) reg. 1988 (As amended)
The above regulations were amended in 1993 and have set new levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture and furnishings. This includes soft furnishings such as mattresses, padded headboards, bed bases, sofas, armchairs etc. To comply with the regulations these types of furniture must be fire resistant and in most cases carry a permanent label to this effect.
We can recommend that you visit www.firesafe.org.uk which has all regulations and labelling.
Non-compliance can mean that you will be found guilty of a criminal offence and face a fine, imprisonment or both.
Gas safety (Installation and use) reg. 1998
These regulations came into force on the 31st October 1998 and re-enact, with certain changes the 1994 Regulations and two subsequent amendments.
They place a duty on the landlord to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipe work are maintained in a safe condition at all times. These regulations mean that you, as landlord are responsible for ensuring that: All gas appliances (which include any central heating systems, fires, cookers, refrigerators etc.) flues and installation pipe work, which uses mains, propane or calor gas owned by the landlord are checked for safety at least once a year by a member of the Council for Registered Gas Installers (Gas Safety Register) and that accurate records are carried out.
A current safety certificate must be available for all tenants prior to them taking occupation of a property. Also, following the annual check a copy of the new certificate must be given to the tenant within 28 days.
Non compliance can mean that you will be found guilty of a criminal offence and face a fine, imprisonment or both.
Electrical safety (Safety) reg.1994
The above regulations impose an obligation on the landlord to ensure that all electrical appliances left as part of a let property are safe.
Cabling fuses and plugs should also be inspected and replaced where necessary to the correct rating for that particular appliance. We ensure that all electrical appliances and equipment in let properties are checked and serviced on an annual basis by a registered electrician.
Please provide us with a copy of the current electrical safety certificate before registering your property. If you would like us to arrange this on your behalf then we can do so at an additional charge. Please contact one of our advisors for more information.
Building regulations require that all properties built after June 1992 must have mains operated inter-connected smoke detectors fitted on every level of the property. You are advised to provide at least battery operated smoke alarms in older properties.
HMO Regulations and Landlord Licensing
On April 6th 2006 mandatory licensing came into force with the intention of raising the standard of accommodation in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s). Landlords must register their HMO with the council if the property has 3 (habitable) storeys or more and is occupied by 5 or more people from two or more households. A licensable HMO must meet certain standards for kitchen facilities, bathroom facilities and fire precautions. Please note, all other rental accommodation may still be classed as a HMO. Please refer to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
You will be advised at the time of rental valuation should your property be subject to the HMO regulations. Applications for a license can be made on line at www.disclosurescotland.co.uk or by telephoning 0870 609 6006 for more information. If you would like us to assist you in the application process then please contact an advisor. There will be an additional charge for this service.
Please be advised, we are unable to register your property without receiving a copy of your license and associated documentation, where applicable.
You can find more information on HMO licenses in the tab below.
Energy Performance Assessment
It is a legal requirement for all rental accommodation to have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) in place before it can be marketed to let. An EPC assesses the energy performance of a property and will need to be carried out by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor to ensure it meets all legal requirements. Once complete, it will be valid for a period of 10 years.
Please provide Keylet with a copy of the EPC at the time of registering your property. Alternatively, please contact one of our advisors to arrange this on your behalf.
Landlords must declare this income on their tax returns. If a landlord does not receive an annual tax return then he or she has a legal responsibility to notify the Inland Revenue if their rental income gives rise to a liability tax. The UK now has a system of Self Assessment. This imposes a considerable burden on individual tax payers and there are financial penalties for those who fail to meet their obligations.
Income Tax is payable on UK lettings irrespective of where you live. However through careful planning and assistance you should be able to avoid paying some or even all of this tax.
You should take professional advice from either an accountant or the taxation department of your bank to find out how to make the most of your income.
Taxes management act 1970
The confirmation of instructions contained in this brochure requires you to confirm that you are the owner of the property and your residency. Should your details indicate that you meet the criteria of a UK landlord it is our duty as a letting agent to deduct tax at 22% from your net rent and forward this to HMRC on a quarterly basis.
If you have been resident overseas for more than 6 months or you are about to move overseas you may be considered a non-resident landlord. However, you must make your own enquiries with HMRC or your accountant if you have one. If, after your investigation you are still classed as a non-resident landlord you can apply for a CAR (previously FICO) number (this is an approval number issued by the HMRC which permits Keylet as a letting agent to pay your full rent due to you with no overseas tax deducted).
Deductions will be made until notification is received from HMRC, upon notification Keylet will advise you of the procedure for claiming a refund of the tax already deducted. In some cases we may be able to apply for the refund on your behalf.
HMOs or Houses in Multiple Occupation
If you let a property which is one of the following types it is an HMO:
- An entire house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
- A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to 3 or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.
- A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more tenants who form two or more households.
- A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
In order to be an HMO the property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.
More information about HMOs can be found in these documents.
Rent Smart Wales
YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO LET YOUR PROPERTY OUT IF YOU ARE NOT REGISTERED/LICENSED.
Rent Smart Wales, (The Housing (Wales) Act 2014) was put on the table a couple of years ago, and is coming in to practice officially from Monday 23rd November 2015. Rent Smart Wales is a piece of legislation created for landlord and letting agents, whereby the landlord must obtain a licence in order to continue trading. If you own or manage a house in Wales, occupied by someone other than yourself in return for a rent, this new law will apply to you. This does not apply to estate agents and will not affect Keylet Sales.
What does it mean?
- All private landlords who have a rental property in Wales must register themselves and the addresses of their rental properties in Wales.
- Landlords who undertake defined letting or property management activities at a rental property in Wales must apply for a licence. If a landlord instructs an agent to do such work on their behalf, it is that agent who must become licensed.
- In order to get a licence a person must be adequately trained, and also declare themselves ‘fit and proper’.
- Licensing training will be offered through Rent Smart Wales or people can choose to attend Rent Smart Wales approved training courses delivered by other bodies.
- This scheme will commence Monday 23rd November 2015 and enforcements, such as penalties and fines, will be coming into effect after the first year of operation.
- Those agents in Wales that do not meet the criteria will be unable to obtain a license, which will help identify the reputable against the disreputable, which is Rent Smart Wales ultimate aim.
- As a result it hopes to put a mutual confidence in tenants, letting agencies and landlords across the board.
This legislation will apply to you if:
- You own a property in Wales you don’t live in
- You allow someone else to live in the property
- They pay rent to live in your property
- You have a tenancy agreement in place
To register as a landlord you need to:
- Go to the Rent Smart Wales website
- Create an account (A landlord must complete the registration themselves)
- Apply for a license (If you are a self-managed landlord)
- Pay a fee of £33.50
Once you are registered as a landlord you must:
- Re-register every 5 years
- Keep information up to date
- Add any newly purchased properties within 28 days
Following registration if you complete any of these activities you must obtain a license:
- Viewings of the property
- Referencing a tenant
- Preparing a tenancy agreement
- Preparing an inventory
- Collecting rent
- Being a point of contact for tenants
- Arranging repairs and maintenance
- Arranging secure access at the property
- Checking the contents and condition of the property
- Serving notice to terminate a tenancy
To obtain a license you need to:
- Submit a valid license application via your online account
- Provide proof of the appropriate landlord training
- Pay a fee
- Once application is assessed, your license will be issued
- You will receive a unique license number
- If you fail to comply with the conditions of the license that it can be taken off you.
For more information the website, https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/ is the home of private landlord registration in Wales, they also have a mailing list and a twitter handle @RentSmartWales so they can be easily reached if we have any queries. Here is where the licence can be applied for by both agents and landlords. It will act as a database so that any tenants letting a property in Wales will be able to verify that their landlord is registered and whether the person letting and managing their home is licensed. The website will also provide useful guidance and information for landlords, agents and tenants.
At Keylet Sales & Lettings, we are are a fully Licensed Agent that satisfies the codes of practice and also go above and beyond many of the requirements asked.
The codes of practice are split in to four sections, before letting a property, setting up a tenancy, during a tenancy and ending a tenancy. We will be divulging in to these sections of the legislation to explain exactly what it is you pay for, when we manage your property.
Section 1 – Before letting a property
In order to appoint an agent, you must be sure that the agent you choose holds the Rent Smart Wales license. You must also be presented with information such as fees and expenses, the terms of business, the duration of the agreement to manage the property and the extent of the agent’s financial authority to authorise expenditure such as maintenance costs. (At Keylet this usually is set at £100 spend, but this can be adjusted to suit your needs).
We satisfy this by having our Keylet Terms of Business set out in a carefully thought-out document. Bearing in mind we have had 18 years’ experience to perfect this, we always bring a copy of our terms of business to any appointments/valuations and even leave you a copy to sign and return so you are completely self-assured you’ve made the right choice.
Rent Smart Wales legislation states that the marketing of the property is to be clear and concise, we fulfil this role by providing copies Energy Performance Certificate as well as our agency fees for tenant, which already available in office and downloadable from our website. If you already have tenants in your property and we are in the process of re-letting, we will always give tenants 24 hours, (usually via text message), although instant access is required if we are unable to get hold of you and there is an emergency.
Section 2 – Setting up a tenancy
We use an external referencing agency, to ensure that we are fair and considerable to all tenants. We always set up a receipt of payment upon an agreement of a let which clearly states, starting and end date of contract, including fees paid and a breakdown of the all other payments. In this drawn up document we also point tenants to the Welsh Governments publication ‘A Home in the Private Rented Sector – A Guide for Tenants’. We also have copies of our tenancy agreements available on our website, so that tenants, can take the time to read through every clause whilst they are in the process of referencing.
Our knowledge of Cardiff, Cardiff Bay and Cathays, also allows us to provide up to date and relevant information or signpost them to the correct advice on things such as utilities, waste collection, parking, TV licensing etc., but if it’s a new development, even though we try to clarify everything, renting apartments off-plan can leave information like this only available towards end of completion. We always complete a thorough inventory on every managed property, which details everything in the property including schedule of condition, with date stamped photos. This document is vital for end of tenancy inspections, so we can monitor the condition that the property is returned to.
For a fully managed property we deal with all bond deposit matters, and for let only packages we will do our best to ensure that you are fully educated about your responsibilities and where the deposit is to be held. Our obligations, mean that the deposit is held in a client account and registered with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), ensuring that the appropriate prescribed information and certificate is complete.
Section 3 – During the tenancy
We will organise informing Welsh Water of a new tenancy and provide them with all the information via the Landlord Tap. We will always endeavour to take up-to-date meter readings on changeover of tenancy as well as informing Cardiff Council. As well as informing tenants of the insurance products primarily a package which will cover your possessions against accidental damage. We have also produced tenant handbooks for both the Cathays branch and Cardiff Bay branch, to ensure they have all the relevant information required to fully appreciate their rented apartment.
In terms of rent collection, the scheme insists that rent must be collected through legal means and full address to be provided to tenants upon requesting payment. Due to a full and thorough referencing service, as well as setting up direct debits for rent we usually avoid any arrears situations, although of course, like anywhere sometimes these situations are unavoidable.
Another benefit of a managed property is that your tenant has multiple points of contact to call if there is a query with the apartment. Rent Smart Wales suggest that tenants should be provided with a main contact person and secondary contacts, we can also provide clarity on where to report any issues, as our website is easily accessible to all of our tenants and becomes a portal when maintenance reports need to be made.
In terms of the condition of the property, our in house maintenance department have the knowledge to provide you with realistic renovations, refurbishments as well as a competitive quote. If your property is fully managed we take the responsibility off you and organise any works that are required in order to maintain the condition of the property. We also carry out annual service checks on gas, unvented cylinders, electrical safety, portable appliances and legionnaires. We also are experienced with dealing with HMO licensed properties, for more information on this check out our designated HMO webpage in the tab above.
Section 4 – Ending a tenancy
There are procedures which must be carried out in order to end a tenancy, and here at Keylet we already have a procedure in place. An exit inspection must take place (usually with the tenant present and within 24 hours) so both parties get an opportunity to inspect the condition of the property in comparison to the original inventory. Whilst fair wear and tear is taken into consideration this is also the opportunity to see whether the tenant has caused any further damages that you would need to claim from the deposit. We operate a full bond dispute procedure and have dedicated members of staff that will write to tenants with any deductions, where we help you come to an end result whereby you are not out of pocket.
If you are a Let Only or Managed landlord and would like more help and advice on the changes to the property letting industry in Wales, please dont hesitate to contact us.
- Housing Act 1988
- Housing Act 2004
- Housing (Wales) Act 2014
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975
- Race Relations Act 1976
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- Equalities Act 2010
- Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment (and Protection from Eviction Act 1977)
- The Consumer Protection Act 1987
- Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and/or Landlord and Tenant Act 1987
- Localism Act 2011
- Consumer Rights Act 2015
- Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
- Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/2451)
- The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988(SI 1988/1324)
- General Product Safety Regulations 2005
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (SI 2005/1541)
- The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1277)
- Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/632)
- Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI2012/3118)
- Water Industry (Undertakers Wholly or Mainly in Wales) (Information about Non-owner Occupiers) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3156)
The Renting Homes Bill Wales
The Renting Homes Bill has been proposed for clearer legislation that covers all tenants in Wales who rent a property. This will replace various and complex pieces of existing legislation with one clear legal framework. This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to be passed by the National Assembly for Wales and it will directly affect the lives of over one million people who rent their home in Wales.
Why has the Renting Homes Bill been proposed?
- With 1 in 3 people in Wales now renting a property there is a need for a clearer law..
- Currently there are different rights for Housing Association tenants Vs Local Authority tenants Vs Private landlords.
- Some landlords have no written tenancy agreement between themselves and the tenants.
What’s in the Bill?
- An occupation contract must be used between landlord and tenant.
- Contracts must be for a minimum of six months.
- Properties must be fit for human habitation.
- Tenants will be unable to be evicted for complaining about the condition of the property.
- Help prevent homelessness situations.
- Helps victims of domestic abuse by being able to evict the person for domestic abuse.
- New succession rights for carers.
- Landlords will be able to repossess and abandoned property without a court order.
What are the benefits?
- Written contracts between landlord and tenant for clearer understanding of their obligations.
- Standardising eviction for serious rent arrears in social housing.
- Providing greater flexibility to rent for less that six months within the private sector.
- Encouraging landlords to rent to those they see as high risk.
- Requiring the landlord to ensure the dwelling is fit for human habitation.
- Protection from retaliatory eviction.
- Making it easier for people to join or leave joint rental contracts.
- Dealing more effectively with domestic abuse and the anti-social behaviour of some households by including a ‘prohibited conduct’ term in every contract.
- Making it possible for young people to rent in their own right.
- Making it easier for landlords to recover abandoned properties.
- Standardising the right to take over a contract when the current contract holder dies, and giving a new right to long-term resident carers.
- Providing a legal framework for supported accommodation housing the most vulnerable individuals.
- Reducing costs by having a simpler legal framework with model contracts.
Key Features following Renting Homes Bill Report
cymru.gov.uk/tai • wales.gov.uk/housing
Duty to provide a written statement of contract
A clear, understandable, contract is essential to effective arrangements for renting a home. Both the landlord and contract-holder must have access to a written contract in order to understand their rights and responsibilities. The Bill will require a landlord to provide the contract-holder with a written statement of the contract no later than two weeks from the date of occupation. Most landlords will, no doubt, continue to issue a written contract for signature before the contract-holder moves in. The two week period is to allow for situations, for example, where accommodation is provided at very short notice. This will ensure every person renting a home receives a written statement of the contract.
Ending a contract
The process and circumstances by which current tenancies and licences are endedby a landlord, or indeed a tenant or licensee, are many and varied. The ending of a contract is perhaps one of the most confusing parts of current arrangements. It is the cause of the majority of court actions, and is always likely to be under the current system. It can involve time, expense, and worry on the part of both parties to the rental agreement. The Bill therefore sets out clear, straightforward and fair processes for ending a contract, which reflect several, significant changes to current law. In doing so, the Bill aims to clarify rights and responsibilities and thus reduce the number of disputes and court actions.
Repossession by the landlord
The Bill will make changes to the processes and criteria currently used when a landlord seeks possession of the dwelling. It replaces the long list of grounds for possession under current law with terms in the contract itself. The purpose is to ensure both contract-holder and landlord are very clear from the outset of the circumstances under which the dwelling can be repossessed. The Bill will considerably simplify the current arrangements, which will aid understanding.
There will be only six grounds for possession:
- Breach of contract;
- Contract-holder’s notice;
- Landlord’s notice under a periodic standard contract;
- Landlord’s notice under a fixed term standard contract;
- Serious rent arrears under a standard contract; and
- Estate management grounds.
As is the case now, the new grounds are either “discretionary” or “absolute”, referring to whether the court has discretion to issue a possession order or, if certain conditions are satisfied, is required by law to do so. In most cases, the grounds for possession under the Bill will be discretionary.
“Ground 8” proceedings for possession
Where included as a term in the contract, a Housing Association is currently able to seek possession against an assured tenant whose rent is in arrears, for example by eight weeks where rent is paid weekly or fortnightly, or two months, where rent is payable monthly. If a case is taken to court, and is proved, the court must grant an order for possession to the landlord. The court is not able to take into consideration factors which may have contributed to the rent arrears, for example the non-payment of housing benefit due to an error or lengthy processing times. This is known as “Ground 8”, as it is listed as such in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988. In practice, very little use is made of Ground 8. In 2010-11, only 17 of 1,340 possession orders made for rent arrears in respect of Housing Association assured tenancies were on this ground; just over one in every hundred. The secure contract will not include an equivalent to Ground 8, and therefore housing provided under the contract will not be subject to an absolute ground for possession for rent arrears. Because Ground 8 does not apply at all to Local Authority secure tenants currently, the Bill will make an important contribution to achieving equality in the provision of social housing.
The “six-month moratorium”
Under current law, a possession order issued by a court on the landlord’s “no-fault” notice ground under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 cannot take effect within the first six months of an assured shorthold tenancy. This is known as the “six-month Moratorium”. However, in the vast majority of cases the moratorium is irrelevant because private landlords require tenants to sign up for an initial fixed term of six or twelve months, under which a “no-fault” notice for possession cannot be issued. Standard contracts in the Bill do not include such a moratorium. The purpose behind its exclusion is to provide additional flexibility to help people who rent their home in certain circumstances, for example where someone’s home is provided as part of their employment. It will also encourage landlords to rent to those they are currently reluctant to rent to because of the moratorium, for example someone with a poor renting history. Furthermore, it will make it easier for someone to find somewhere to rent for a period of less than six months, for example on moving to an area for work or education purposes.
Landlords generally want to keep their tenants for as long as possible, and want the security of income provided by an initial fixed term of six or twelve months. Therefore, there is nothing to suggest removing the moratorium will cause landlords to alter their letting practices overall. However, removing the moratorium will provide additional flexibility to help meet peoples’ housing needs under specific circumstances.
Repairs and maintenance
The obligations for repair and maintenance of a rented dwelling can be a source of confusion for landlord and tenant and, often, the cause of disputes. The Bill reflects current obligations but, by requiring the landlord’s repairing obligations to be included in the occupation contract, the Bill will help ensure both parties are aware of these responsibilities.
Fitness for human habitation
The Renting Homes White Paper proposals included requiring a landlord to ensure there are no Housing Health and Safety Rating System Category 1 hazards in the dwelling. Whilst stakeholder responses to the White Paper supported the approach in principle, concerns were raised as to how this would work in practice. These included a concern regarding Local Authorities being able to carry out the inspections entailed for it to work. The Bill adopts an alternative approach which removes the reliance on Local Authority inspections but nevertheless reflects the Welsh Government’s commitment to improving the condition of rented properties and, more importantly, the health and well-being of those who live in them. The Bill requires the landlord to ensure the dwelling is fit for human habitation for the duration of the contract. The Bill also includes a power to make regulations which will be the basis for establishing whether a dwelling is fit for human habitation. These may be by reference to regulations made in relation to Category 1 or Category 2 hazards, made under section 2 of the Housing Act 2004.
Most private landlords are responsible and maintain their properties in line with their obligations. However, a minority do not take their obligations as seriously. Rather than deal with repairs requested by the tenant, such landlords retaliate by evicting the tenant using the “no fault” ground under section 21 of Housing Act 1988. Retaliatory eviction is not just a problem for occupiers; it also damages the image of the private rented sector and tenant confidence more generally. The Bill introduces fairness by limiting landlords’ ability to use the “no-fault” notice ground to escape their obligations for repairs or to ensure fitness for human habitation. Where the court is satisfied the landlord has not complied with his or her obligations, and the landlord has issued the “no-fault” possession claim to avoid complying with those obligations, it may treat the possession claim as discretionary and therefore may refuse to make an order for possession.
The Bill takes a new approach to the often problematic issue of joint contracts. The current law around what happens to a tenancy when one of the tenants leaves is unhelpfully rigid. At present, one joint tenant can, often unintentionally, bring the tenancy to an end by serving a notice to quit, therefore ending it for every joint tenant. This can result in unintentional homelessness for the other joint tenants. The Bill’s broad approach on joint contracts is, wherever possible, to treat each joint contract-holder as an individual. The Bill therefore allows a joint contract-holder to withdraw from an occupation contract, without ending the whole contract. Likewise, the Bill enables a joint contract-holder to be excluded from a contract on prohibited conduct grounds, or to be removed by the court, without this affecting the other contract-holder(s). The purpose behind this is to prevent the actions of one tenant adversely affecting the interests of others. This more flexible approach to joint contracts will also enable a more targeted approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.
Issues such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse have a significant impact on the lives of individuals and communities, affecting people’s safety, their health and well-being and their overall quality of life. While some rental agreements include restrictions on behaviour, such as playing loud music, they are varied and inconsistent. The Bill will make a “prohibited conduct term” a mandatory requirement in all occupation contracts. The prohibited conduct term sets out the types of behaviour, whether committed or threatened, which would result in a breach of the contract. In summary, these are:
- Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person living in the dwelling or in the locality;
- Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person engaged in lawful activity in the dwelling or in the locality;
- Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to the landlord or aperson acting for the landlord in carrying out the landlord’s housing management functions;
- Using the dwelling for criminal purposes; and
- To allow, incite or encourage another person to behave in the ways described above.
Breaching the term may trigger possession action in the normal way, although court proceedings can start on the same day the landlord gives notice. This is necessary where the landlord has to deal with a serious breach. Of course, encouraging contract-holders to improve their behaviour is preferable to eviction. Similarly to current arrangements, the Bill allows a landlord to seek an order from the court imposing a standard contract in place of a secure contract for a 12 month probation period, which is extendable to 18 months. Domestic abuse also falls within the scope of the prohibited conduct term. TheWelsh Government is committed to doing more to help the victims of domestic abuse. The policy is to prevent domestic abuse in the first place but, if it does occur, it is important victims receive the help they need. One of the problems with the current law on joint tenancies is it often results in the victim of abuse having to end his or her tenancy in order for the landlord to evict the perpetrator. The more flexible approach to joint contracts under the Bill will enable only the perpetrator of domestic abuse to be evicted. This would allow the victim and any children to stay in their home.
Contracts for 16 and 17 year olds
The current law means a person has to be at least 18 to hold a tenancy in his or her own right. This causes difficulties, for example, for Local Authorities in providing accommodation to this age group. The Bill provides 16 or 17 year olds with the same right to an occupation contract as those aged 18 and over. In doing so, the Bill does not remove any existing rights of 16 and 17 year olds, nor any obligation a local authority may have to them under existing legislation and the new homelessness legislation which will come into effect through the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.
A long standing issue for landlords is abandonment, which is where a tenant disappears, often owing rent and possibly having damaged the dwelling. Where it is clear a dwelling has been abandoned, the Bill will enable a landlord to repossess the dwelling without requiring a possession order from the court. This procedure will enable abandoned properties to be re-let more quickly, which is in everyone’s interest. The Bill has a number of safeguards for the contract-holder. In order to regain possession, a landlord must give the contract-holder a written warning notice stating the dwelling is believed to be abandoned (this may be done by leaving it or posting it to the address). During the four-week warning period, the landlord must make such inquiries as necessary to be satisfied the dwelling is abandoned. At the end of the warning period, the landlord may end the contract by issuing a further notice and take possession of the dwelling immediately. If the contract-holder re-appears within six months, an application can be made to the court to re-instate the contract, among other remedies.
Succession rights and transfer
Succession rights have become increasingly complex under current housing law. The Bill provides a single framework of succession rights which will apply to all occupation contracts. In doing so, the Bill enhances current succession rights to family members and provides a new succession right to voluntary carers. In summary, the Bill allows for one ‘priority successor’ (spouse or civil partner, or person living with the contract-holder as though they were their spouse or civil partner) followed by potential ‘reserve successor’ (specified family member or carer). In the case of a carer or family member other than a spouse, a reserve successor must have lived in the dwelling for at least 12 months. The Bill also makes changes to the way a contract-holder can transfer his or her contract to someone else. This will allow for greater flexibility, for example in the arrangements under which contract-holders of secure contracts exchange properties.
The Bill allows for the adoption of a similar approach to protecting deposits to that set out in current legislation, but extends the requirement to all contracts where a deposit is taken (current requirements apply only to assured shorthold tenancies). All deposits must be protected by the landlord through an authorised deposit scheme, as is currently the case.
There are many types of supported housing, under which homes are provided to some of the most vulnerable people. The Bill establishes, for the first time, a legal framework which recognises the specific needs of supported housing. The Bill requires supported housing providers to issue a “supported standard contract” after a period of occupation of six months (though the initial six-month period may be extended on application to the Local Authority). A “supported standard contract” is the same as a standard contract, but provides the landlord with two additional powers:
- Temporary exclusion – under which the landlord is able to require the contract-holder to leave the accommodation for up to 48 hours, for a maximum of three times in any six-month period;
- Mobility – under which the landlord can re-locate an individual within a building, perhaps to separate two residents who are in conflict.
Subject to some specific exceptions, the Bill provides for all existing residentialtenancies and licences to convert to the appropriate occupation contract on a date to be appointed by the Welsh Ministers. Terms in any existing tenancy or licence, which do not conflict with the relevant fundamental terms, will continue to have effect under the converted occupation contract. For converted contracts, a period of six months will be allowed for the issuing of the written statement of the contract. This will enable the issuing of contracts to be incorporated into the usual engagement between landlord and tenant. New tenancies or licenses issued on or after this date will take the form of an occupation contract, and contract-holders will be entitled to a written statement of their contract after two weeks of the date of conversion. For converted contracts, a period of six months will be allowed for the issuing of written statements of contract. This will also allow for the issuing of contracts to be incorporated into the ongoing engagement between landlord and tenant.
Landlords and Legionella – Complying with the law
In April 2014 the Health and Safety Executive guidelines for prevention of legionella were brought into law, requiring every landlord to undertake regular risk assessments for each of their tenanted properties, whether managed themselves or by an agent. Failure to comply is now a criminal offence with the potential for fines or even a prison sentence.
What is Legionella?
Legionella or legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by inflammation of minute droplets of contaminated water containing legionella bacteria. All man made hot and cold water systems at some point are likely to provide a favourable environment where legionella can grow.
If you are a landlord and rent out a property or even a room then you have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your tenant. This means keeping the property safe and free from health hazards including water borne sources. The HSE L8 Approved code of practice was revised in November 2013 in relation to the control of legionella bacteria.
What you must do to comply
A simple assessment must be carried out by a competent person who is experienced in identifying the risks of legionella contamination. It may show that there are no real risks and that no further action is required, it is important to review the assessment in case it changes. Temperature is the most reliable way of ensuring the risk of exposure is minimised, therefore by keeping hot water hot, cold water cold and keeping it moving.
Measures to be taken to reduce risk
This includes flushing the system prior to letting the property, avoiding debris entering the system, setting temperature controls for the hot water cylinder to ensure water is stored at a suitable temperature (60 degree). Risk is furthered lowered where water heaters such as combi boilers and electric showers are installed because there is no water storage.
What you need to provide
Documented evidence must be provided of a risk assessment having being undertaken on your property once every two years. The document must be a detailed written report on the conditions at the time of inspection together with a schematic drawing of the water system and any remedial actions required to reduce the risk of legionella.
What tenants need to know
Tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained. For example not to adjust the temperature setting and to clean the shower heads regularly. They also need to inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or if there are other problems with the system so that the appropriate action can be taken.
What to do with a vacant property
It is important that water is not allowed to stagnate within the water system and as a general rule outlets on cold and hot water systems should be flushed for 15 minutes at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise chance of stagnation.
How often does the assessment need to be reviewed
The HSE guidelines recommend an assessment should be carried out at least once every two years in order to maintain up to date records. It is also recommended that if any relevant changes are made to the property which would affect the system to get them reassessed.
Will the property be inspected
HSE and local authority do not proactively test properties or ask for evidence of risk assessment taking place however if a tenant were to contract legionella’s disease from the water system at the property the landlord maybe liable to prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act and would have to demonstrate to the court that they had fulfilled their legal duty.
What should you do?
To ensure you are fully compliant with the law and your tenants are safe book a professional legionella control association registered provider to carry out a water risk assessment.
As part of Keylet’s management service, we supply and co-ordinate the legionella risk assessment checks through our reliable contractors.
Should you wish to discuss your property in relation to the legionnaire’s law in more detail, please feel free to contact our housing department on 02920 489000.
Permission to let
Should your property be subject to a mortgage, the responsibility is your own to ensure your mortgage lender gives permission to sublet. Keylet will assume that all necessary checks have been made, therefore we cannot be held responsible should a tenant decide to make a claim against you or if you face repossession through mortgage arrears. If your property is leasehold, your lease will specify whether it is necessary to obtain permission to sub-let from your superior landlord or the managing agent. It is wise to clarify the situation before marketing the property as some landlords place restrictions on the type of sub-letting which will be approved.
Proof of ownership
We are required due to the Money Laundering Act to ensure that each property we let is owned by the individual we are instructed by, therefore proof of ownership is required. This can be in the form of documentation from the Land Registry, which we can obtain for you for an additional fee, a mortgage statement or solicitors completion paperwork. In addition, we require proof of your individual home address, in the form of a bank statement or utility bill and photographic proof of identity.
We recommend that you make the necessary arrangements with the post office to have your mail forwarded to your current address.
Ensuring that your property is adequately insured is essential, as most building insurance policies do not cover furnished lettings. We can provide information on insurance products please ask for details.
It is your responsibility to ensure that all utilities including water, gas, electric, council tax and telephone accounts are finalised and closed before a tenancy can commence. New accounts may then be opened by the tenant upon moving into the property, and the tenant will continue to pay these bills for the duration of the tenancy. It is the landlords responsibility to pay all utility bills during periods of vacancy. Landlords of leasehold properties must still be responsible for any ground rent and service charges for the duration of any tenancies and of course during periods of vacancy. Please inform us if any service charges includes water rates.
Furnishing your property
From past experience, fully furnished properties tend to be more desirable with the highest market rentals being achieved. For advice and guidance, please do not hesitate to ask one of our advisors.
You are required to provide Keylet with one set of master keys and one set of keys per occupant. Please ensure that all bedroom keys, mail box keys, entry codes, car park space numbers, parking permits and entry fobs are given to Keylet before the commencement of the tenancy. Please ensure that any additional keys cut are tested before giving to the agent. For your peace of mind, please be aware that all our keys are coded and stored securely.
It is the landlord’s responsibility for any mechanical failure of goods within the property. Please ensure that Keylet are aware of any continuing warranties of any appliances. We encourage landlords to open an additional cover for central heating which can be provided by British Gas 3 Star Cover. For more information please contact British Gas on: 0845 3582476 or visit their website on: www.energychoices.co.uk. Upon handing over your property for rental, please ensure that all gas and electrical appliances are cleaned, serviced and in full working order.
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