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What do sellers and agents need to be aware of when selling a rented property?
When selling a tenanted property to potential investors, it is extremely important to be as organised as possible, especially in relation to having all of the paperwork in place regarding the current tenants.
As soon as the property is placed on the market, we strongly recommend that the sellers put together the following information as set out below and forward on to their conveyancer as soon as possible:
A copy of the current signed tenancy agreement
The most common form of tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, which will either be on a fixed term or a rolling weekly/monthly tenancy. Ensure that the most recent tenancy agreement is in place
Complete the Property Information Form accurately with as much information as possible
The Property Information Form has a section dedicated to occupiers. The form asks sellers to answer yes or no to the question as to whether there are any tenants or lodgers living at the property. The form does not specifically ask the sellers to provide a copy of the current tenancy agreement, however the buyer’s conveyancer will inevitably ask for a copy of the current tenancy agreement if the tenant is to remain in the property.
If the tenant has paid a deposit to the seller as landlord, then ensure that the deposit is lodged correctly with the Deposit Protection Service or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Deposits cannot be held personally by the Landlord since 6 April 2007. Your deposit reference number should be available to pass on to your conveyancer, as these details will need to be relayed to the buyer’s conveyancer upon completion in order for the deposit to be transferred into the buyer’s name.
If the property is furnished (either in part or fully), it is important to ensure that there is an inventory in place setting out full details of the items included in the tenancy agreement. It is also preferable for the inventory to be signed and agreed to by the tenants, attached to and referred to, specifically in the tenancy agreement. Ideally, photographs of the state and condition of the property and the furnishings should be included, in order to avoid any future potential argument relating to the condition of these once the tenancy has come to an end.
Consent to let
If the property is leasehold (either an apartment or house), please ensure that there are no restrictions contained in the lease relating to subletting the whole of the property. Such restrictions are common in leasehold properties. Restrictions may simply prohibit subletting altogether, or allow subletting on the basis that the leaseholder obtains the landlord or the management company’s consent. We can review this information on behalf of the seller, and contact the interested party if they would prefer us to deal with this for them. A purchase subject to a tenancy agreement will not proceed unless consent is clearly in place.
Most landlords and management companies will charge a fee for providing consent, and so the seller will need to be prepared for this.
Where there are any gas appliances in the property provided by the seller, the seller must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out. The checks must be carried out by an engineer who is registered on the Gas Safety Register. The seller needs to ensure that a copy of the recent check is provided to the tenant and is available for a prospective buyer.
Where the seller has provided electrical appliances for the use of the tenant, then it is the seller’s responsibility as landlord to ensure that they are working safely.
Carbon monoxide and alarms
As a landlord, the seller is required to provide smoke alarms on every floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a solid fuel source. A buyer will require these to be in place (if they aren’t already) in order to proceed.
As an agent, what can you do to help?
Help your seller by putting together a checklist of items in relation to the sale of tenanted properties, in order to assist them. Ideally, sellers need to be aware of these requirements prior to marketing the property.
Ask the seller to chat through the situation with one of our experienced conveyancers prior to a sale being agreed or indeed, contact us yourselves if you would like to chat through any potential situations.
It is vital for a seller to review their current tenancy agreement and the points mentioned above, in order to avoid any delays during the conveyancing process.
As a full service law firm, as well as advising clients in relation to the conveyancing process, we are also able to assist our landlord clients with any type of dispute with their tenants. If you consider that your seller may need further advice in relation to a difficult tenant or they do not have a good working relationship, please do not hesitate in seeking advice from our Property Litigation expert Helen Clutterbuck. The earlier we can help the better the outcome will be for the client.