Just starting out - some questions on letting residential flat in London

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  • Just starting out - some questions on letting residential flat in London

    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently in the process of setting up my flat as a rental property, and wanted to ask a few questions.

    Background - I own a leasehold (160 years) on a 2 bed 1930s ex local authority flat in London, which is managed by a building management company on behalf of the freeholders. I am about to move in with my fiance, and intend to rent the flat out for 3-5 years to recoup some money on it, and sell it once house prices have recovered in my area (still running a loss from the purchase).

    I intend to let the flat part furnished, using some surplus furniture brought about from merging our two houses - this will probably be a double bed, single bed, dining room table, 4 chairs, fridge, , sofa, washing machine and maybe a couple of bookcases - nothing spectacular, but with plenty of space to allow people to move their own furniture in if they want.

    My intent is to let to professional couples only, with no children or pets, or DSS allowed. My inclination, based on the experiences of others, is to only let to individuals for whom English is a first language, to prevent any 'misunderstandings'. I am erring towards being a private landlord and not using a letting agent as I will live nearby, and want a high level of control over who is actually in the house.

    My general questions are below - I've done some searching and read a lot of threads here already, which has been very useful, but any comments on the questions below would be great.

    1. The building is managed by a management company, who have responsibility for all building issues outside the direct flat, and for the provision of the heating & hot water - heating is on for 6 months of the year, and is run from a central boiler. If the hot water fails, who is responsible for tenant issues though - I ring the management company directly at present - can I set out to tenants those areas for which the management company is responsible for resolving, or do I still need to be the go between? Also, if the heating / hot water fails, and it is the responsibility of the company to fix, who is liable for the cost of provision of emergency accommodation if the property is rendered uninhabitable? Is it myself as the landlord, even though I don't have access to the boilers, or is it the company which manages the building services on behalf of the freeholder?

    2. Do people think it is worth being a private landlord from the word go, or is it better to use a letting agent? My instinct says no, but I'm open to persuasion!

    3. Is there any value in joining a landlord association - e.g. London Landlords assocation, and does it bring any real benefits, or is it a nice to have, not need to have?

    4. Can I clarify - mortgage payments, service charge payments etc are tax exempt for the purposes of determing tax liability? E.g. if I earn £12000 in a year, but £9000 of that is a mortgage payment, and £1000 other expenses, I only pay tax on the £2000 balance?

    5. What are the best sites to advertise flats on as a private landlord in London -I've seen gumtree and craigslist, but am not sure whether this will bring hordes of aussies and not a nice professional couple? Is there anywhere worth paying for?

    6. As its a 2 bed flat, if the term of the tenancy is to a couple only, and I discover a third person in the spare room (which is big enough for a double bed), then what happens - can they be evicted for breach of the tenancy?

    7. This may sound odd, but with white goods, what is liability for providing working goods? The current washing machine works, but due to a bug, needs a reset to proceed from the rinse cycle to the rest of the programme - its fully workable if you know what to do. If the tenants are given instructions on how to work it, is this acceptable, or do they need one which works without the reset?

    8. In terms of paperwork, I think I need mortgage company approval, energy performance certificate, gas certificate for the hob (only gas supply in the house run by the occupants). Is there anything else I need to get? (Local authority website is spectacularly useless on this bit!)

    9. Finally, are there any books or other things definitely worth buying as guides?

  • #2
    Your soft furnishings ie sofa should comply with fire regs and have a safety label attached. Depending on age, old sofas may not comply.

    I would rec membership of NLA/RLA for 1 year trial (~£100) you can get most of this back through member discounts on Ins etc, free mambers helpline, online training modules & doc library.


    • #3
      1) You are the person who will have a contract with the tenant, you are responsible for all structural repairs under section 11 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act. In real terms, you can tell the tenants to report any problems to the management company, but if they fail to act approprately, it is your neck on the line.

      2) Bad agents are a bad idea. Good agents will hopefully inform you of the 101 obligations you don't know about, and carry most of them out for you.

      3) RLA and similar are a useful source of advice and information. Local forums can put you in touch with reliable tradesmen and services, together with an opportunity to share best practice (and learn from others mistakes).

      4) You seem right, but I always recommend an accountant - mine costs less than £20 a month and saves me way more.

      5) 'free' advertising tends to attract those who are at the lower end of the market - because that is where the slumlords advertise.

      6) If the tenant is out of contract, you can evict using section 21. If they are in contract you can attempt to evict under section 8 (ground 12). But why bother, it may be the 'lodger' is all that is stopping your tenants being short on their rent each month.

      7) Cast-offs and left overs are not what 'professional' tenants want. Shoddy equipment means the tenant is less likely to respect the property and to return it is a less than perfect state. An electrical appliance that doesn't work as it is meant to would possibly fail the PAT test.

      8) You probably need permission to let from your freeholder and 'landlord' insurance would be wise, though getting the right cover on a leasehold property can be confusing.

      9) There are a number of 'idiots guide' type books on being a landlord. Any of them would give you a good grounding, but make sure it is reasonably recent (say updated no earlier than 2009). Amazon do them from under a tenner delivered.


      • #4
        4. Only the interest part of a mortgage repayment can be off-set against tax, not the capital repayment. That isn't an expense as you are that much richer with each repayment (all things being equal).
        5. Crooked tenants will swarm round like bees round a honey pot. Those with murky backgrounds, CCJ's,and have every intention of not paying more than a month or two's rent will be there. Only a full background check of credit etc. and having to pay for it would put them off.
        There's a lot of them around.


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