Our local office in Liverpool

Frequently Asked Questions

For Landlords

Q: Why should I use a managing agent?

A: Choosing a fully managed service allows you to completely relax. You never have to worry about the let or the property. It creates a professional distance between you and the tenancy and means you can avoid having to deal the midnight call for heating that has stopped working, or the worry of being compliant with all the latest legislation. Occasionally, tenants can fall into arrears or there may be a dispute over the deposit – don’t worry, we can deal with this too!

Q: How do I receive my rental income from Lewis & Foy?

A: If you choose a Rent Collect or Fully Managed service, we will organise for the tenant to pay the rent via standing order or direct debit. We will then transfer the money to your account minus our commission and any outgoings or fees (such as maintenance work fees). You will receive a statement together with the balance on the Friday following receipt of the rent (subject to bank clearance).

Q: Will my agent keep my money safe?

A: If you have chosen a regulated agent like Lewis & Foy, then your money will be protected through the Client Money Protection Scheme. Not all agents are regulated, but Lewis and Foy choose to be. We are members of ARLA Propertymark and the Property Redress Scheme.

Q: What is ARLA Propertymark?

A: The ARLA Propertymark is the leading professional and regulatory body for letting agents in the UK. ARLA Propertymark is dedicated to protecting consumers by improving standards and professionalism within the lettings industry. Remember, letting agents are not regulated by law. Lewis and Foy choose to be members of a regulatory body.

Q: What is the Property Redress Scheme?

A: The Property Redress Scheme is an independent body to which landlords can refer any complaint should the agent fail to address it to their satisfaction.

Q: What if the tenant damages the property?

A: Either the tenant pays to fix the damage, or the cost for fixing the damage is removed from the tenant’s security deposit at the end of the tenancy. However, fair wear and tear should be allowed for.

Q: What is the difference between a Fully Managed Property, Rent Collection and Let Only options?

A: If the property is Fully Managed, then Lewis and Foy are both the landlords and tenants first point of contact on all matters from start to finish. Let Only means that we find tenants for the property, arrange the paperwork, and move the tenant into the property. After this the Landlord takes over the management of the property. For our clients who have Rent Collection only, we simply collect and process the rent each month but providing reassurance that we can monitor and chase any arrears if this occurs. Most properties are Fully Managed providing reassurance to both landlords and tenants.

Q: Do you charge “extra” fees?

A: No we operate a very clear and simple pricing plan for each applicable service. Our fully managed service provides you with everything needed to run a successful and compliant tenancy.

Q: Is it worth using a letting agent as a landlord?

A: The decision to use a letting agent can depend on various factors and is ultimately a personal choice. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Expert Knowledge: Letting agents should know the local market well and have expertise in legislation, protecting the landlord from potential legal issues.
  2. Time Saving: A full-service agent will handle tasks such as property advertising, tenant checks, managing rental payments, dealing with maintenance and repairs etc., saving you considerable time.
  3. Tenant Finding: Agents can help to ensure that your property is not left vacant for long periods, using their networks and advertising.
  4. Maintenance & Repairs: Maintenance and Repairs: Some agents have their own network of trusted plumbers, electricians and other contractors to quickly take care of maintenance issues.
  5. Dealing With Tenants: An agent can mediate and handle any potential disputes or issues with tenants.

With positives, come negatives:

  1. Costs: The main downside is the cost, but this can be offset by their market knowledge and efficiencies.
  2. Less Control: You might feel that you have less direct control over who is renting your property or how certain issues are handled.
  3. Less Personal: If you enjoy the personal aspect of being a landlord and forming relationships with your tenants, you might miss out on this by working through an agent.

In terms of financial sustainability, it's critical to compare the cost of the agent's services with the potential benefits, like potentially higher occupation rates, lower vacancies, and professional handling of legal and maintenance issues. It will also vastly depend on the landlord's personal circumstances, such as how much time they have and their knowledge of the market and landlord legislation.

Q: As a landlord, what would I be responsible for?

A: In the UK, landlords have various responsibilities to ensure their properties are safe and suitable for tenants. These responsibilities extend to a variety of areas:

  1. Repairs: Landlords are responsible for most repairs in the property. This includes the structure and exterior of the property, plumbing systems, heating and hot water, sanitary fittings including basins, sinks and toilets, and damage caused by attempting repairs.
  2. Safety: Landlords are required to ensure the property is safe for tenants. This includes gas and electrical safety, where landlords must provide a gas safety certificate and ensure the property's electrical system and any supplied appliances are safe.
  3. Energy Performance: Landlords must provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property.
  4. Deposit Protection: Landlords must place the tenant's deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if they rent out on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007.
  5. Right To Rent: Landlords must ensure the tenant is allowed to live in the UK. This means checking the tenant's right to rent.
  6. Property Maintenance: The property must be 'fit for human habitation', meaning it is safe, healthy, and free from things that could cause serious harm.
  7. Right of Quiet Enjoyment: Landlords must allow their tenants to live undisturbed in the property.
  8. Licensing: If the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO), the landlord will need to comply with additional HMO management regulations and may need an HMO license. Licences are also required for non-HMO properties in certain locations.
  9. Fire Safety: Landlords must follow safety regulations like providing a smoke alarm on each floor and a carbon monoxide detector in rooms using solid fuels.

It's good practice for landlords to review these responsibilities regularly and ensure they meet all the legal requirements to avoid any penalties or legal disputes.

Q: What is a property management company?

A: A property management company is a firm that is hired by property owners to handle the day-to-day operations and logistics of properties for a fee. These companies have expertise in managing residential, commercial, and real estate properties, both for individual owners and large real estate investment firms. They act in the best interests of the owner to maintain the property's value while generating income. Services provided by a property management company can include:

  1. Maintenance & Advertising: They market the property, list vacancies, and attract suitable tenants.
  2. Tenant Screening: The company handles all aspects of finding and vetting tenants, including running background checks, verifying employment, checking references, and ensuring they have a satisfactory rental history.
  3. Rent Collection: They handle rent invoicing and collection, maintain financial records, and manage any late or missed payments.
  4. Property Maintenance & Repairs: They are responsible for regular maintenance, organizing repairs, safety inspections, and ensuring the property meets all relevant codes and regulations.
  5. Lease Management: The company handles lease negotiations, renewals, inspections, and evictions if necessary.
  6. Financial Management: They manage the budget for the property and maintain all necessary records.
  7. Dealing with tenant issues or complaints.
  8. Advice on legal procedures related to rental properties.

The goal of a property management company is to save the landlord time and ensure the property is run efficiently. They act as a point of contact for tenants and deal with any issues that arise, allowing property owners to enjoy the financial benefits of owning a property without the operational hassles.

Q: Do property management/letting agents generally include maintenance?

A: They handle ongoing maintenance tasks to ensure the property stays in good condition. This can include daily tasks (like cleaning common areas in an apartment building), seasonal chores (like clearing gutters or leaves), and addressing wear and tear.

They also manage necessary repairs. When a tenant reports a problem, the property management company arranges for a tradesperson to fix it. They might have their own team of workers, or they may contract this work out. In addition, they often manage preventative maintenance to catch issues before they become major problems – for example, an annual service of a boiler.

A portion of the property management fees often goes towards these maintenance tasks. However, major repairs may require additional fees beyond standard property management fees.

It's important for landlords to clarify in their contract with the property management company what the scope of maintenance work includes and what would generate additional charges.

Q: Must I have insurance when renting a property out?

A: In the UK, it's not a legal requirement for landlords to have landlord insurance. However, it's often considered essential due to the specific coverages it provides.

While a standard home insurance policy might not provide coverage for many issues that landlords face, a landlord insurance policy can cover property owners for property damage, liability costs, and loss of rent due to insured events.

For instance, if the property is damaged or becomes uninhabitable due to an insured event such as a fire or flood, landlord insurance can cover the repair costs and the rental income loss during the repair period. It can also cover legal costs if there's a dispute with a tenant that results in legal proceedings, and liability coverage if a tenant or visitor is injured on the property and the landlord is held responsible.

If the property is mortgaged, the lender may require the owner to have landlord insurance as a condition of the loan.

So, while landlord insurance is not legally mandatory, it's often recommended to protect the landlord's investment and provide coverage for many common risks associated with renting out a property.

Q: Are tenants responsible for damage to my property?

A: Yes, in the UK, tenants are usually responsible for any damage they cause to the property beyond normal wear and tear. This can include direct damage (like a broken window or a damaged door) or damage caused by neglect or lack of maintenance (like mould growth on walls due to not airing a room or using the heating).

As a landlord, if you find that your property has been damaged, you can generally use the tenant's security deposit to cover the cost of repairs. However, you cannot use it for what's considered normal wear and tear (like gradual wear of carpeting or paint), for which the landlord is generally responsible.

Before starting the tenancy, it's crucial to carry out a thorough inventory of the property together with the tenants, including the condition of the walls, floors, fixtures, furniture, etc. This will serve as a baseline reference when the tenants move out.

If the cost of the damage exceeds the deposit, or if the deposit is not enough to cover the repairs, you may have to resort to legal action to claim the costs. Therefore, it is always advisable for landlords to have a suitable landlord insurance policy in place to cover potential damages.

For Tenants

Q: Can lettings agents charge a fee?

A: As of 1 June 2019, letting agents in England are prohibited from charging unnecessary fees to tenants under the Tenant Fees Act. This means that they cannot charge for administrative tasks such as credit checks, referencing, and inventories. Letting agents can only charge for rent, security deposits, holding deposits, changing the tenancy, or for early termination if requested by the tenant. Payments for utilities, television licences, and council tax are also permitted. If a letting agent violates this legislation, they could be fined.

However, in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the rules may be different, so it's wise to check local regulations.

Q: Can letting agents say no to pets?

A: Yes, they can. In the UK, it's up to the individual landlord or letting agent to decide if they want to allow pets in their properties. This is often stipulated in the lease agreement. However, the UK Government issued a model tenancy agreement in January 2021, encouraging landlords to allow responsible tenants to keep pets in their homes. But this model agreement is just a guideline and isn't legally binding. Therefore, landlords and letting agents still have the final say in whether they'll accommodate pets. It's always worth asking and negotiating if you have a pet.

Q: Can a letting agents ask for bank statements?

A: Yes, letting agents can legally ask for bank statements before agreeing to a tenancy contract. This is part of the process of checking your 'right to rent', and to make sure you have enough income to afford the rent each month.

By asking for bank statements, letting agents can verify your income, regularity of payments, and ascertain if you can maintain rental payments. However, this should be done in a manner that respects your right to privacy. You should redact sensitive information that the letting agent doesn't need to see, such as expenditure and other personal information.

Before sharing any personal or financial information, always ensure that the letting agent is legitimate and registered with a professional body, such as The Property Ombudsman, or the Association of Residential Letting Agents.

Q: When can a letting agent keep a holding deposit?

A: In the UK, under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, a letting agent can keep the holding deposit:

  1. If the tenant fails the right to rent check.
  2. If the tenant provides false or misleading information which could affect the decision to let the property to them.
  3. If the tenant decides not to enter into the agreement.
  4. If the tenant fails to take all reasonable steps to enter into the tenancy agreement.

However, if any of these does not apply, the holding deposit should be returned to the tenant within 7 days of agreeing the tenancy (unless the holding deposit is put towards the first month's rent or security deposit).

It’s worth mentioning that the holding deposit can only be up to one week’s rent and the landlord or letting agent should stop advertising the property once it has been paid. Remember, the rules may differ slightly in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Q: When should a letting agent return my deposit?

A: In the UK, your landlord or letting agent should return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you will get back, at the end of your tenancy. If you are in a dispute with your landlord, then your deposit is protected in the government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) until the issue is sorted out.

If your landlord or letting agent holds your deposit (they can’t hold your deposit if you rent in Scotland), they must use a TDP scheme even if you're an assured shorthold tenant. These government-backed schemes ensure that tenants will get their deposits back if they meet the terms of the rental agreement, don't damage the property, and pay rent and bills.

The rules might vary a bit in Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, it's a good practice to check the local regulations as well.

Q: Are letting agents regulated?

A: Yes, in the UK, letting agents are regulated, but the regulation is not as rigorous as some other sectors. Since October 1, 2014, it has been a legal requirement for all letting agents in England to join one of two government-approved redress schemes – The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.

Letting agents are also required to clearly display their charges and whether they offer client money protection, which is designed to safeguard landlords and tenants' money. As of April 1, 2019, all property agents in England holding client money are required to belong to a government-approved Client Money Protection scheme.

Furthermore, the Client Money Protection for Property Agents Regulations 2018 require letting agents to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme.

The rules might slightly differ in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, so it's always wise to check the specific regulations in these areas.

Q: Can letting agents see defaults, CCJs and credit issues?

A: Yes, when a letting agency conducts a tenant screening or a credit check, they have access to public records, which include County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies, and insolvencies. So, if you have a CCJ or have had serious credit issues, this information could be visible to the letting agent. However, they cannot see other details from your credit history such as missed credit card payments, unless they resulted in a County Court Judgement or similar action.

In order to run a credit check on you, the letting agency must first obtain your permission. It's essential to be transparent about any financial issues that might surface during a credit check. In some cases, tenants can mitigate these issues by providing a guarantor for the rent or offering to pay a larger deposit.

Q: Can letting agents give future bad references?

A: In the UK, a letting agent or a landlord can indeed give a reference that reflects negatively on a previous tenant, but it must be truthful and fair. It is crucial that any reference provided should not include misleading or false information, as this can lead to legal implications.

A reference might cover issues such as the tenant's ability to pay rent on time, the condition in which they kept the property, or any disputes that might have arisen during the tenancy. If a tenant has had any of these issues, these could be mentioned in a reference.

Anyone providing a reference should be willing and able to provide evidence to support any negative comments made in case they are challenged. If you receive a bad reference and believe it is unjustified, it might be worth seeking legal advice.

Q: Are landlords responsible for pest control?

A: In the UK, it depends on the cause of the infestation. If the pests were present when the tenants moved in or the problem is due to disrepair (for example, a hole in the wall that allows pests to enter), the landlord is typically responsible.

However, if the infestation is due to the tenant's actions or lack of cleanliness, the tenant may be responsible for dealing with it.

There's no definitive law on this matter specifically, but the general rule of thumb falls under the landlord's obligation to offer a home fit for human habitation.

For example, a severe pest infestation may render a property uninhabitable, and the landlord may have a legal obligation to deal with it under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) or the Environmental Health Department, regardless of what the tenancy agreement says.

However, if a minor infestation occurs that doesn't threaten the tenant's health or safety, and it's caused by the tenant's actions or living habits, the tenant is likely responsible.

Since this can vary by specific situation and local jurisdiction, it's always a good idea to clarify such responsibilities in the tenancy agreement and/or consult with a local housing authority or solicitor for advice.

Q: What is a Section 21?

A: In the UK, a Section 21 notice is used by landlords in England and Wales to evict tenants and regain possession of a property at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement or during a tenancy with no fixed end date, also known as a 'periodic' tenancy.

The notice, referred to as a 'no-fault eviction', doesn't require the landlord to give a reason for ending the tenancy agreement. The term "Section 21" comes from Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

There are some requirements that need to be met for a Section 21 notice to be valid:

  1. The landlord must give the tenant at least two months’ notice in writing.
  2. The date of required possession should not be earlier than the end of the fixed term.
  3. If there's no fixed end date, the date must be at least two months in the future.

There are some requirements that need to be met for a Section 21 notice to be valid:

  1. The landlord must give the tenant at least two months’ notice in writing.
  2. The date of required possession should not be earlier than the end of the fixed term.
  3. If there's no fixed end date, the date must be at least two months in the future.

Also note that landlords cannot use a Section 21 notice if they have not given the tenants copies of:

  1. the property’s Energy Performance Certificate
  2. a current gas safety record for the property
  3. the government’s 'How to Rent' guide

Finally, if the property is a licensed HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) or located in an area where selective licensing applies and the landlord doesn't have a license, the landlord can not issue a valid Section 21 notice.

Please be advised that the UK government has proposed to abolish Section 21 evictions as part of a future Renters’ Reform Bill, but as of now, the legislation is still in place.

Q: What is a Section 8?

A: In the United Kingdom, a Section 8 is a type of notice a landlord can give to a tenant to terminate an Assured Shorthold Tenancy before the end of the rental term. This notice is so-called because it operates under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

A landlord can serve a Section 8 notice if they have grounds for eviction, which may include rent arrears, property damage, or antisocial behaviour. There are 17 grounds in total – eight are 'mandatory' meaning if these can be proven in court, the judge must evict the tenant; and nine 'discretionary' grounds where the judge will decide based on the evidence whether it’s reasonable to evict the tenant.

If the tenant doesn't leave by the specified date in the notice, the landlord can apply to the court for a possession order.

Q: Can I leave my tenancy early during the fixed term?

A: Whether and how you can leave a tenancy early depends largely on the type of tenancy agreement you have and its specific terms.

  1. Fixed-Term Tenancy: If you are on a fixed-term tenancy (for a set period of time), you can only leave early if there's a break clause in your agreement, or your landlord agrees to end the tenancy early.
  2. Break Clause: A break clause allows you (or your landlord) to end the tenancy early. However, it usually allows for this only after a certain period has passed. If a break clause is activated, notice must be given in writing.
  3. Landlord Agreement: Your landlord may agree to end the tenancy early either without conditions or on the condition that you find a new tenant to replace you.

If you leave a fixed-term tenancy early without a break clause or your landlord's agreement, you're technically breaking the contract and could be liable to pay rent for the remainder of the tenancy term.

For a periodic tenancy (which runs week-by-week or month-by-month), you can leave anytime provided you give your landlord the correct notice, usually one month or four weeks.

It's crucial to check your rental agreement and any specific terms in it before making any decision to leave early. Legal advice may also be advisable if you're unsure about your rights or obligations.

Q: What does tenant like behaviour mean?

A: The term "tenant-like behaviour" comes from a legal case in the UK (Warren v Keen, 1953) and is used to describe the general duties and responsibilities of a tenant in maintaining a rental property during the term of their tenancy.

This implies that tenants need to handle minor maintenance, behave responsibly, use the property in a 'tenant-like' manner, and not cause unnecessary damage. Specifically, it might include tasks like changing light bulbs, replacing smoke detector batteries, keeping the property reasonably clean, and appropriately using appliances.

Furthermore, tenant-like behaviour means notifying the landlord or the property manager of any serious issues or necessary repairs that are outside the remit of their responsibilities as soon as possible. This allows the landlord to rectify the situation before it worsens.

However, the exact responsibilities of both the tenant and landlord should be outlined clearly in the tenancy agreement signed by both parties to avoid misunderstandings.

Q: What as tenants would I/we be responsible for?

A: Tenants in the UK have several key responsibilities when renting a property:

  1. Rent: Tenants are responsible for paying the rent on time, typically on a monthly basis.
  2. Utilities and Council Tax: Tenants are generally responsible for utility bills (gas, electricity, water), unless otherwise specified in the rental agreement. They are also usually responsible for paying council tax.
  3. Repair and Maintenance: While landlords are typically responsible for most repairs in the property, tenants are expected to look after the property and conduct minor maintenance. This includes minor tasks such as changing light bulbs, keeping the property clean, and reporting any major repairs or issues to the landlord as soon as possible.
  4. Damage: Tenants are responsible for any damage caused by their activities beyond reasonable wear and tear. They could lose part or all of their security deposit if they cause damage to the property.
  5. Respect for Others: Tenants are responsible for behaving in a way that won't cause a nuisance to their neighbors. This includes controlling noise levels, disposing of rubbish correctly, and generally maintaining a respectful living environment.
  6. Contractual Obligations: Tenants are obliged to adhere to the terms of their lease agreement, which could include clauses about pets, smoking, or notifying the landlord if they'll be away for a prolonged period.

Each tenancy agreement could have specific terms, so it's essential for tenants to carefully read the contract before signing and keep a copy for reference throughout the tenancy.