As an established and long standing independent company, we have excellent local knowledge and a strong position in the property market. We offer all our customers a first class service. Reaston Brown vet applicants using a reliable referencing service, aiming to match the right tenants to each property. We check data on all prospective tenants including credit checks, bank information and employer records. We provide information on all aspects of letting and property management, prepare tenancy agreements, advise on inventories and presentation, and are able to offer both landlord and tenants insurance through Endsleigh. When retained on full management we will oversee and account for necessary maintenance whilst always keeping you informed. We will do house inspections quarterly and keep you aware of all aspects of your property management.
Our Service & Fee Structures
Reaston Brown offer three different fee structures for our clients, each with a varying degree of services included. Fees under all services offered will be charged at six monthly intervals, on each tenancy until the tenant(s) vacates the property, and the original agreement is terminated.
Gold (12.5% + VAT of rent received) - full management of your property. This service includes all that is listed in the Basic Blue and Silver Services, in addition to all queries and reports dealt with from tenants, all repair works organised and remedied (if the cost is below £100) and then invoiced to you, any more major issues (such as replacement appliances, windows or flooring) will be quoted for and the decision put forward to you to action. This service includes a full inventory and schedule of condition for your property at the commencement of each tenancy, including photographs where necessary, with regular internal inspections and reports.
Silver (10% + VAT of rent received) - middle management of your property. This service includes all that is listed in the Basic Blue Service, in addition to a brief schedule of condition of your property at the commencement of each tenancy; check-in and check-out inspections, including the record of meter readings and transfer of utility accounts; chasing late or missing rent payments; providing annual reports for tax purposes upon request, arranging annual gas safety inspections; assisting you by providing reliable tradesmen contact details from our list of electricians, plumbers, for any works you need attending to.
Basic Blue (8% + VAT of rent received) - basic management of your property. This service provides the necessary basics you will require to let your property, including a free valuation of your property to let; and if necessary, advice on how to improve your property to obtain the best rental income, and how to present your property in its best possible light; advertising of your property in our office window, on our website, regularly in the Thame Gazette with photograph, and occasionally in the Oxford Times Property Paper; the production of full colour double sided A4 details including photographs and room measurements; accompanying viewings with prospective tenants; securing a tenant for your property (usually from our waiting list); obtaining references (previous/current landlord, employer, personal and bank) for that applicant including a credit check; production of an assured shorthold tenancy agreement which we would get signed at the commencement of the tenancy and hand over keys to the property; contacting the landlord and the tenant to confirm renewal of tenancy, or the need to re-advertise the property at the appropriate time; and setting up a standing order from the tenant to the landlord's bank account to receive regular rent payments. On this package, all tenant queries and problems will go direct to the landlord to settle after the tenant has moved in.
A legally binding contract between the landlord and the tenant, that sets out the legal obligations of both parties, and must be signed by both parties before the tenant moves into the property.
Assured Shorthold tenancies are usually for 6 or 12 months, with a maximum term of 24 months, under the Housing Act 1988 (amended 1996). Towards the end of this contract, the tenant is obligated to give one calendar month's notice, in writing, if they wish to move out of the property and terminate the agreement, and the landlord is obligated to give the tenant two month's notice if they wish to regain possession of their property, and terminate the agreement. These terms can be renewed, usually 6 monthly, if the landlord and the tenant are happy with the arrangement.
If no further fixed term is created to follow on from the end-date of original term, and assuming notice to end the tenancy has not been served or received, the tenancy can simply hold over as a 'periodic tenancy' e.g. rolling on with basically the same terms and conditions and in line with how the rent is due to be paid. This is usually monthly.
The equivalent of six weeks rent is held as a security deposit during the tenancy, to cover, if need be, the costs of cleaning, any repair works (that were down to the tenant) at the end of the tenancy, if the property is not left in a satisfactory condition.
Reaston Brown act as 'stakeholder' between the landlord and the tenant, and would look to reach an agreement between both parties before the full refund of the deposit, or any deductions from the deposit took place.
Reaston Brown are signed up to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) which means that in the event of an unresolved dispute or stalemate over the allocation of the deposit, it can be referred to the scheme for a prompt, independent, third party adjudication - so providing a resolution which is fair to both landlord and tenant.
Inventory/Schedule of Condition
An essential document to protect both the landlord and the tenant, which should be amended and updated at the commencement of each new tenancy, and be signed by both the landlord (or the agent) and the tenant. An inventory is included in our Full Management Gold Service, with photographic evidence where necessary, and a full description of the property's condition, including the garden. A brief Schedule of Condition is recorded for our Silver Service, though we would advise landlords to create an inventory themselves in addition. Any maintenance issues that arise during the inventory will be passed on to the landlord to be actioned.
Repairs & Maintenance Issues
A landlord, in very general terms, has a legal responsibility to repair the structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters and external pipes; to keep in working order the installations for the supply of gas, electricity and water; and, for the installations for the provision of space and water heating. The landlord also has other legal responsibilities relating to the safety of such items as gas, electricity and furnishings as well as the general standard or fitness of the property for habitation.
A tenant has an implied covenant to act in a 'tenant-like manner'. Broadly, this means to report disrepair promptly; to take reasonable steps to ensure that neither the tenant nor guests damage the property, its fixtures and fittings; to do the minor day to day things any home-occupier would normally do e.g. replace light bulbs, fit a new battery in a smoke or CO2 detector, tighten an odd screw which has come loose on a door handle etc.; to keep the property reasonably warm and aired to help prevent condensation or freezing of pipes; to leave the property secure when absent from it; to keep the garden and other areas reasonably tidy and free from rubbish.
The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1993
These regulations affect all Landlords in the private and public sector who let accommodation. They apply to furniture and furnishings included in holiday homes and residential furnished accommodation (such as houses, flats and bedsits) which are let in the course of business.
From 1st January 1997, all furnishings situated in rented accommodation must comply to the said regulations.
The regulations relate to all soft upholstered furniture, including mattresses, cushions etc. Non-compliance carries a punishment of up to six months imprisonment and/or a £5000 fine. These penalties are for allowing the accommodation to be let with the non-compliant furniture. Should a fire occur at the property and the furnishings were found to be in some way contributory to death or injury, more severe penalties may apply.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994
The British Gas Safety regulations now state that Landlords are responsible to ensure that all gas appliances left in their property i.e. gas fires, cookers, and central heating boilers MUST BE SERVICED AT LEAST ANNUALLY and that a Gas Safety Certificate must be provided to the tenants.
Failure to comply with this legislation carries severe penalties, including a prison sentence. We have a Corgi registered plumber who carries out the annual inspections and certificates through Reaston Brown for our landlords, but there is also the possibility of a British Gas Service Contract which would include the annual gas safety inspections.
The Electricity Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
The safety of Consumer Goods is controlled by the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. These requirements extend to 'consumer goods' supplied in rental accommodation.
The Landlord is responsible for ensuring that safety rules are complied with - in particular that all electrical appliances must be safe for use.
The safest way to avoid prosecution is to have all electrical appliances checked and serviced by a qualified electrician. Most appliances purchased since June 1989 should meet the relevant British Standards.
The Building Regulations 1991 require that all properties built since June 1992, must have mains operated inter linked smoke alarms fitted on every floor. We must strongly recommend the fitting of smoke alarms to your property, if you have not already done so, prior to a tenant's occupation.
Buy To Let
As a Buy to Let Landlord you are interested in gaining and maintaining an income on the investment you have made in purchasing a rental property. These days 'Buy to Let' appears to be an enticing way to invest your hard earned money and create a decent income for life, with minimum effort.
However, you will need to be certain that the location of your buy to let property, will suit the type of tenant you wish to have residing in your property.
You also need to be sure that the income you will gain from rental, after paying out for all the landlord's expenses will cover your costs and provide what you regard to be an acceptable income on top of that.
For financial assistance for your buy to let purchase, we recommend contacting an independent mortgage advisor, Julie Wilson on 07777 123456 or email her at Julie@epicam.co.uk.