The idiosyncrasies of banking in France

french bank

The French high street banking system holds a great deal of mystery not to mention irritation for the average Brit buying in France. Before you can complete on your house you will need to have your French banking in place, and you’ll need it to set up your gas, water and electricity services.

A couple of years ago my Parisian grandmother passed away having reached  the ripe old age of 100. She had spent the last 80 years living in the same elegant apartment where my mother was born, in Pigalle. It’s thanks to her that we have been able to buy our house in France, returning to my roots which she would have loved. 

To avoid losing vast amounts in foreign exchange transactions I tried to open a French bank account from the UK before the inheritance was finalieurossed and in readiness for finding me dream house. I spent numerous hours on the phone to numerous French banks, being passed from pillar to post, to no avail. I contacted uk banks with branches abroad as well as international banks trying to get a euro account. HSBC and Britline.com are helpful but still it was ridiculously complicated.

The thing to do, I subsequently discovered, is just to open an account in France. A surprisingly easy thing to do when you are there on holiday or house hunting. Even as a non-resident it’s simple and straight forward.  You will only need 1euro deposit and your passport as ID and proof of address – in the UK is fine. Had I known that at the time, it would have been cheaper for me to fly to France for the day than to pay the foreign transfer charges I ended up having to cover both ways.

There is a wide range of high street banks to choose from

There is a wide range of high street banks to choose from

When you choose your account though, be it with BNP, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Lyonnais, Société Genérale  or any of the many others, you’ll want to find out about charges as banking in France is  not free. Every facility such as having a check book or bank card is chargeable as are many transactions such as direct debits and standing orders. You will be allocated a bank manager who will personally look after your account.

Carole and I are now on first name terms – not common in France where respectfully you will be addressed by your title and surname everywhere you go. Whenever I have a problem I call her and she is most helpful. Carole set up my home and  contents insurance and organises my internet banking – by hand. I can’t set up a new payee on line from the comforts of my Scottish home as I don’t have a French mobile phone to verify the transaction…. so I email Carole and she does it for me.  Wonderful customer service – unless she happens to be on her two hour lunch break, on holiday, out of the office or it’s close to midnight which is when I usually get round to doing my online banking.

You won't be able to access your money from all branches.

You won’t be able to access your money from all branches.

You’ll also want to find out about accessing your money before you choose your bank, which will be quite surprising compared with UK practices. My account is with the Credit Agricole and I opened it in Bergerac in the Departement of the Dordogne because that is where we were staying  when we were house hunting. Having subsequently bought my house 20 minutes down the road in the neighbouring Departement of the Gironde, I discover that I cannot withdraw money at the counter from my local branch. I’m limited to £600 Euros a week from a cash till – which, thankfully I can access across the country, but if it is not a Credit Agricole cash till, there will be  a charge.  Needless to say 600 euros every 7 days doesn’t go very far when you’ve just bought a house, so I  have to cross the river back to the Dordogne to get access to my cash.

When I get to the charming village of Port St Foy, fortunately just over the bridge from where we stay, there is a bit of a queue – after all its market day. Eventually its my turn to meet one of the clerks, we shake hands. The previous 3 customers in the queue were warmly greeted with an embrace and a kiss on both cheeks by their bank manager. Certainly not the norm in any RBS branch I’ve frequented.

The Bridge linking me to my funds

The Bridge linking me to my funds

A pretty and efficient looking bank employee, Melle Duval takes me to a private meeting room – there is no open counter here for doing your transactions. We sit and chat.  After  questioning as to why I need to  remove over £2000 euros in one transaction – to pay the electrician, the plumber and the odd job man – after all we are doing renovations – she loads up 2 bank cards and hands them to me.  I now need to go and put these into the cash till at the front of the branch where, in return, I’ll access my money. There is another long queue. Fortunately the carpark isn’t metered so at least I won’t be getting a ticket.

I’s the second time I’ve been to this branch in the neighbouring Department to access my funds. On the first occasion, a Thursday, I was told  cash was only distributed on Tuesdays and Saturdays… It’s a good thing my tradesmen are patient people.

Aveline Evans

www.frenchcountryhouse.co.uk

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Mange Tout Rodney, Mange Tout…..

Mange Tout Rodney, Mange Tout…..

Mange Tout Rodney

Mange Tout Rodney

I thought I’d share a few of my observations with you on “La Belle Langue”.
When we decided to change our lives, France was always the favourite, for many reasons, one of them being because I had a head start in the language, taking French, German and Latin ‘A’-levels, he said, showing his age.

With that head start, I’ll soon sound like a local, won’t I? NO!
But I have a few excuses, err, I mean reasons.

1. Age
I’m not a kid any more and more’s the pity as they seem to pick it up so easily. Many adults go to conversation classes at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, taken by expat or local French teachers and that can help.

2. Location
In our little hamlet, we only have one resident French neighbour, with a superb, gruff local accent that I can still barely make out. We hardly see him or his wife and although polite, they seem far more interested in seeing their family than us, which is fair enough and usually the case in rural areas. If you’re based in a larger village or town, day to day contact will help much more.

3. Work
Or for that matter school, if you have children of school age, contact with other parents will help. Unless they are teenagers, when they won’t want you to come within a country mile of the place and embarrass them. If you work with or amongst French people, progress will be far quicker. Most of our gîte guests are British as well, so that doesn’t help us much.

So if none of the above is helping you, what can be done?

You can make a start before you come out. I tried to brush up my ancient French with a CD-based learning course, which did remind me of a few things that I’d forgotten. However, it is when you get out here and try in real time that you really start to learn.

Don’t put yourself under pressure by thinking you’ll speak so fluently that you’ll actually sound French. When you hear someone speaking even really good French, 9 times out of 10 you do know if they’re British and quite often you can pick up from where in the UK they hailed, I myself do a great line in Northern Franglais. Listen to long-time UK residents Arsene Wenger and Raymond Blanc if it makes you feel better, it does work both ways. Yes, mispronunciation can lead to misunderstanding but try to concentrate on the word itself rather than trying to “Roll your Rs”.

Despite the apparent negativity displayed above, I’m quite happy where I am now. Still struggling a bit on the telephone, bottling it and relying on English speaking help lines from time to time but I can get by in most situations.

However, the key to any form of integration is to try, it is always appreciated, no matter how bad your attempt is. Frustratingly though, if you’ve rehearsed your opening salvo and you think you’ve done well, they can really dent your confidence by replying far too quickly for you to understand or even worse, answering in English.

Pois gourmands

Pois gourmands

As for the title, I think most of you will remember the “Only Fools” reference but the weird thing is, the French don’t seem to know them as mange tout, as a vegetarian friend found to her cost when she tried to order some at a local restaurant. I didn’t laugh. Much.

 

 

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Buying a home in France is no more difficult than buying one in the UK….

I have an old dog eared map of France that has probably been with us on every holiday for the past 20 years. It pre-dates Google evidently. On it, I have marked all the beautiful areas, villages and hamlets we visited and where I would like to own a house – half knowing that it will probably never happen…

Last summer when we went to France for our two week holiday we forgot the map – but bought a house.

A welcoming country kitchen

A welcoming country kitchen

It was the second one we saw and the whole thing could not have been easier! Yes, there was stress, problems, irritations and delay but we sold our family home in Scotland the previous year and bought in Edinburgh, and that was no less stressful or difficult.

Les Galineaux is in the Libournais, near St Emilion, (Gironde/Dordogne area) because that’s where you can get direct flights to from Edinburgh, last minute, when you are hacked off with miserable weather here – who needs research!

Having said that, I had been looking at properties on line since February. Spending hours on really poor French property website where terrible photos gave you no idea of what you might be buying and the search facilities were very limited.

The Libournais area near St Emilion & Pomerol

The Libournais area near St Emilion & Pomerol.

Price was a big issue for me. The Languedoc Roussillon area and Midi Pyrenees is more affordable than most other parts of France and the sunshine pretty much a sure thing. With Carcassonne being so popular among the Brits and the Pyrenees close by for skiing it was also a good choice for a house that was going to have to earn its keep through holiday lettings. There are a number of airports that serve that area including Beziers, Carcassonne, Toulouse and Poitiers. The Limousin is also a very good area for value but more difficult to access in terms of airports.

At short notice though Bordeaux was where we could fly to.  We rented a great village house for two weeks in Issigeac, an impressive ‘bastide’ 15 minutes south of Bergerac. The British owners, who run a holiday letting business in Yorkshire http://www.oldoakcottages.com/ and ‘know their onions’ (as the French say) had spent three years trying to find their dream French holiday home. Amanda was really helpful and put me in touch with local agents who had helped her. We had lined up a few appointments to see houses before we set off but in the end I mostly organised viewings in situ. As it happens, all the agents I came across were British so language really was not a problem. The French don’t seem to have got the hang of real estate as the British have and with commission rates so high, it’s a good business for British settlers, especially in areas popular among their fellow countrymen. If you are renting in France while doing your investigations make sure you take a place with good WiFi access!

On the Dordogne. Having lots of activities close by was key for our holiday house.

On the Dordogne. Having lots of activities close by was key for our holiday house.

The French system is very different from the UK. The buyer pays the agent’s fees and the commission can be up to 10% of the selling price! But remember this is very much negotiable. The market in France is stagnant and an agent won’t want to loose a sale if he has an interested party. Our agent, Sue Adams, offered us a set fee which was reasonable and made it all much easier to calculate the costs. On top of this you will have the Notaire fees. This will vary according to the value of the house, and is not negotiable. It works out around 8% or so but covers the tax – similar to paying stamp duty and solicitors fees here. Usually the advertised house price includes the agent fees. Having a good relationship with your agent and working with someone you can trust is really important. You might find that some properties are advertised with more than one company so make sure you are dealing with someone you feel comfortable with before going to see the house. If you change agents after you have been introduced to a property it will lead to all sorts of complications.

Sunflowers for miles around.

Sunflowers for miles around.

I made it clear to the various agents I dealt with that I had a set pot to spend and I was not too bothered how they split it between vendor, agent and Notaire as long as it was clear my budget and offer was “all inclusive” ! I found it all a bit cloak and dagger as although the buyer is the one to pay the agent, in truth they are acting for the seller and also trying to get their own commission up. Each individual agent manages their own very close guarded portfolio and you may find they have to pay an introduction fee to a third party if you did not come directly. Even within the same office individuals would not talk to me about a house that was not on their books. A number of agents in Britain play this go-between role including Healey Fox and French Entree. They speak English and guide you through the system but in the end they have not usually seen the properties they have on their website and you want to deal with agents locally, who will know what is going on.

Sue Adams, our agent was with Imorama but basically they all work independently. She was great, knowledgeable and helpful. Sue has now set up French Properties Direct. This is a clear and easy to use website, with good photography, which puts sellers and buyers together and by-passes the exorbitant agent fees that the buyer has to pay. Well worth a look http://www.frenchpropertiesdirect.com/

In the heart of one of the world's most famou wine regions

In the heart of one of the world’s most famous wine regions

We followed Sue’s advice, based on years of experience, in terms of selecting the Notaire and – as is done in France – used the same  person as the vendors. I’m a trusting soul so was not worried about conflicts of interest. In the end, it is very much an administrative function. Having said that it is worth going through the Compromis de Vente with a fine tooth comb. This is basically the Missives so you want to make sure you know what you’re buying.

There are a number of searches and ‘surveys’ that need to be done including electricity, rot, and drainage. 70% of rural homes in France manage their own waste and as the authorities are trying to update sewage systems, transfer of property is the time to do it (more on that next time as this is something we did have a problem with…). These surveys are paid for by the vendor so you can’t decide who does them for you. In certain instances the Mairie will appoint the inspector so you really have no say and can anticipate considerable delay. RICS Surveyors can also be found in France. They have set up in many areas to reassure British buyers. My personal experience of in-depth surveys – here in the UK – is that when you discover a considerable problem after making your purchase, pages of disclaimers tell you the survey could not cover this… A good option if you have a concern is to get a local tradesman to look over the property. A British one might be easier in terms of language but that will come at a premium, and they will not necessarily be any more trust worthy than the local French builders….

On the day we got back to the UK we got gazumped! It made me realise how much I really wanted this house. I refused to give in, upped my offer and the vendors, who were decent people and had liked my children accepted. 10 weeks later we had the keys!

Aveline Evans

Les Galineaux, French Country House

Gironde

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Les Voisins (The Neighbours)

Moving to France is a major step in anyone’s life.  There are always more factors to take into consideration than simply ‘how will this monumental step affect me?’.  For some, it’s the reaction of family members being left behind which is the hardest to deal with; be that grown up children or older generations.  For others, the tough decision can be whether or not to change the lives of those still depending upon them. Since my story is only one of very many, I decided it would be more interesting to broaden the horizon and speak with some of the people I’ve met since moving here in 2012.  I’m starting with Zoe, a 22 year old graduate whom I have recently had the pleasure of meeting and working with…


OVERVIEW

Zoe

Zoe with her French Bulldog, Skunk

Age now: 22

Age at time of moving:  9 years

Education: Degree in Communications from Toulouse University

Situation: Renting with French boyfriend (and French bulldog!)

Works: 30 hour/week contract at French supermarket, plus communications work in spare time – also training to become a wedding planner with me!


So how did you come to be in France? My parents moved over when I was 9.  My dad had a car accident when I was 7 and ended up with brain damage which meant he couldn’t work anymore.  Mum had to cope with both me and dad.  As they had friends moving out to France they took it as a good opportunity to join forces in opening a B&B so mum could work from home whilst looking after us. Gosh, that sounds tough.  Were you sad to leave your friends? Yes – I cried for about 2 years!!  Although it wasn’t just my friends; I also really missed my family in England. It must have been difficult to start a new school at 9, especially in another country.  How quickly did you learn French? It took about a year to get the basics, and then you continue to learn vocabulary all the time. Are you still learning now? Yes – I get masculine and feminine nouns mixed up all the time because there’s no rule.  I also learn new local expressions practically every week. Oh really?  What’s your favourite local expression? ‘Boudu’ – it means ‘oh my!’ but only the really old countryside women ever say it! How long did it take for you to feel integrated? When I started high school I found it easier to make friends as everyone was new.  Although everyone was friendly before, this was when I started being able to socialise a bit more as I’d picked up some of the language.  It also helped that I made friends with an English girl who spoke French and could help me to understand what was going on until my French improved! That must have made a huge difference!  How does the French education system compare with English schooling? School is much harder in France.  Without generalising, I find that the level in maths is much higher, and they work more on grammar (French) and verb conjugations.  I definitely know more French grammar than English! They have longer school days here, but they do have the Wednesday afternoons off to make up for it.  However, this is supposed to be used for extra-curricular activities, such as sport and music. At lycée (sixth form) you study up to 11 subjects to form your baccalaureate, in comparison with three or four A Levels in the UK. One great thing is that university is considerably cheaper in France – if you go to a public university [the majority of universities in France are public] you pay a fee to ‘inscribe’, of around 400-500€, and this is all you pay! What, no tuition fees? Nope – just the initial entrance fee! Boudu!  So what’s the best thing about growing up in France? The freedom!  Growing up in rural France meant I could do pretty much anything I wanted!  It’s was very safe – the bigger towns have got a little less safe in recent years but the countryside is still safe.  I could walk around my town alone at midnight and I wouldn’t be worried. And the worst? Being far away from family and my English friends.  I also miss some English foods. Like what? Baked beans and Dairy Milk! How often do you go back to England I go back at least once a year.  I’d like to go back more because my Grandma is 96 so I like to see her as much as possible. Now that you’re grown up, do you have any plans to return permanently to England? I’d like to spend some time in London, but Paris would also be cool!  Having lived in Toulouse for university I miss the city atmosphere.  I do love coming back home though and so, if I did move to a city, I would definitely look forward to spending a nice weekend in the countryside from time to time!  Having said that, whilst it’s really buzzing in the summer, the winters here can be a bit long and boring. With the temperature outside reaching highs of 5 degrees this week, chapped lips and cracked hands aplenty, I definitely concur!


 If you have any questions you’d like to ask Zoe, please direct them to the email address below and they will be featured at the beginning of next month’s article.


Sarah runs …and then we got married, an international wedding planning service based in the Aquitaine region of France.  Contact Sarah…  sarah@andthenwegotmarried.com | www.andthenwegotmarried.com

label marriage beige

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TIS THE SEASON

Or maybe I should now be saying “Twas the season”, Twelfth Night and all that. I was going to write about something else but then I saw the pictures of the Black Friday supermarket madness in the UK. I know it was a few weeks ago now but I wanted to wait and see what Christmas was like out here this year. We’ve been here a few years now but seeing the aforementioned UK mayhem made me realise how differently the French “celebrate” the festive season. We found that more was always made of New Year than Christmas and that still seems to be the case but maybe to a lesser extent. There seems no doubt that certain aspects of life here in the Dordogne are being somewhat Anglicised and I think, let’s call it “Christmas Creep”, is one of them. I certainly don’t remember any houses with all-over lighting displays to keep EDF in profit 9 years ago, but there are a couple near to us. They’re fairly remote too, so I don’t think their intention is to show off, nor do I know whether they belong to French or British people. Either way, I wonder what the other locals make of the displays? I must ask. However, they are still quite rare and in some villages, the opposite often applies. In a local village, which shall remain nameless, a reindeer/sleigh/Father Christmas combo stays fixed on the Mairie wall all year round, just unplugged. We did our pre-Christmas shopping at Périgueux and Limoges and didn’t pay a centime to park. At a time when UK retailers and their landlords try to extract every penny out of you, an indoor shopping centre in Limoges offered free parking in the morning, only 2 Saturdays before Christmas Day. It was quite busy, as you’d expect and I didn’t see one single fight.

FB XMAS LIST

Christmas in France or the UK?

Christmas cards are still a challenge. There are no dedicated greetings card shops here, you will usually find a spartan selection in stationers, supermarkets and gift shops, where there are as many New Year as Christmas cards. This is a double-edged sword, you don’t walk into a card shop and spend a fortune but you can’t find any special ones for family members. And to continue with the sword idiom, those special cards in the UK are expensive but the smaller, simpler ones out here are far more expensive than they really ought to be. I suppose though these are being phased out by social media and e-cards anyway. I haven’t even mentioned Christmas culinary differences but my last effort was all about food and I won’t go there again just yet. Don’t want you to think I’m obsessed.

Vive la Dif

Vive la Difference

Now though, we’re all back to work after the holidays, which of course includes call centres. It isn’t only phone users in the UK now that are bombarded with cold calls. French companies are certainly catching up there and they’ve ramped up again after the break! “Vive la difference” is what I say and Bonne Année/Happy New Year to all from Neill and Terri.

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Optimising rental decor

Attractive young adult couple painting interior wall of house.

What’s Your Market?

If you’re renting out a property, the street, area and size of the flat or house will, to some extent, dictate what type of tenant you’ll be getting. For example, a scruffy street probably won’t attract young professionals or families, but will be a haven for students.

However, if your buy to let is in an area that could please just about anyone, the way you decorate and furnish your it can influence the type of tenant you can aim at. For example, a cheaply furnished blank canvas is ideal for students, while a more trendy approach could attract young professionals.

So, what decor should you go for?

Aiming At A Market

Which markets might you want to aim at? There are at least five obvious ones: students, social (not all landlords will take this type of let on), company lets, young professionals and families.

Talk to your local letting agents to see which type of tenant your house is likely to attract. Once you’ve nailed this, you can set about tailoring the house to the tenants’ needs and tastes.

Who Expects What?

Students generally go for houses with more than three bedrooms so that they can split the rent. Ideally, they need a blank canvas they can add their own character to and usually require furniture.

Families are more than likely going to have their own furniture and will expect the house to be much more than just basic – it should be well-presented, in good decorative order and clean.

Young professionals might not expect the garden that a family would, but may want the basics when it comes to furniture. This should be, if not trendy, then not unfashionable. Just as families would, they will want the decor to be plain, but smart.

A company let will expect a recently furnished, well-presented space that’s clean and finished properly. They may provide their own furniture, but be prepared to do so yourself.

Social lets may bring their own furniture, but otherwise, you should look to furnish it with cheap but sturdy pieces. The decor should be easy to redo between lets.

Legal Requirements

It should go without saying that any property you rent out should conform to the current building regulations and that you should, as a landlord, be meeting all your legal requirements. So, if you’re making major changes to your property – or you’ve bought one that’s in a poor state, ensure it’s actually up to the right standard to be let out in the first place.

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Guide for landlords

Before a property can be let, there are several matters which the owner will need to deal with to ensure that the tenancy runs smoothly, and also that he/she complies with the law.At Warm Welcome Properties we will help, guide, advise and even organise for you all the necessary legal requirements that you will face as a new landlord! Letting a property you own shouldn’t be a difficult process, and with our team of expert tradesmen and legal advisors on yourside, the decision to join us is made easy! We provide summarised information below. If you require further advice or assistance with any matter, please do not hesitate to contact us! Buy2Let4What Requirements are there for Landlords?Call Warm Welcome Properties on 07010-120458

Preparing the Property

We have found that a good relationship with Tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers this relationship is our job, but it is important that the Tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. It follows therefore that a well presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this, whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Tenants are also more inclined to treat such a property with greater respect.

General Condition

Electrical, gas plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the Landlords expense unless misuse can be established. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral.

Furnishings

Your property can be let fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished. Which of these is appropriate will depend on the type of property and local market conditions. We will be pleased to give you advice on whether to furnish or not and to what level. As a minimum you will need to provide decent quality carpets, curtains and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided.

Personal items, ornaments etc.

Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc. should be removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the loft at the owner’s risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the Tenant’s own use.

Gardens

Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. However, few Tenants are experienced gardeners, and if you value your garden, or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange visits by our regular gardener.

Cleaning

At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the Tenants’ responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense.

Information for the Tenant

It is helpful if you leave information for the Tenant, e.g. on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.

Keys

You should provide one set of keys for each Tenant. Where we will be managing we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.

Other Considerations

Mortgage

If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee’s written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the tenancy agreement of which you must inform us.

Leaseholds

If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain any necessary written consent before letting.

Insurance

You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies.

Bills and regular outgoings

We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. service charges, maintenance contracts etc. to be paid by standing order or direct debit. However where we are managing the property, by prior written agreement we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit.

Council tax and utility accounts

We will arrange for the transfer of Council Tax and utility accounts to the Tenant. Meter readings will be taken, allowing your closing gas and electricity accounts to be drawn up. All these matters we will handle for you, however British Telecom will require instructions directly from both the Landlord and the Tenant.

Income tax

When resident in the UK, it is entirely the Landlords responsibility to inform the Revenue & Customs of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, he will require an exemption certificate from the Revenue & Customs before he can receive rental balances without deduction of tax. Where we are managing the property we will provide advice and assistance on applying for such exemption.

The inventory

It is most important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition be prepared, in order to avoid misunderstanding or dispute at the end of a tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the Landlord to prove any loss, damage, or significant deterioration of the property or contents. In order to provide a complete Service, we will if required arrange for a member of staff to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition, at the cost quoted in our Agency Agreement.

What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £25,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 to 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives two months written notice to the tenant.

Health and Safety, and other Legal Requirements

The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where we are managing the property they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will ensure compliance, any costs of which will be the responsibility of the landlord.

Gas

Annual safety check: Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety at least every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. They must be maintained in a safe condition at all times, records kept for at least 2 years, and a copy of the safety certificate given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences.

Electrical

There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are ‘supplying in the course of business’. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation – ‘Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no legal requirement for an electrical safety certificate (except in the case of all HMOs) it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety, and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your ‘duty of care’, is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.

Fire

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, and certain other items. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.

Smoke Alarms

All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new. Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties (except HMO’s), it is generally considered that the common law ‘duty of care’ means that Landlords and their Agents could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted. We therefore strongly recommend that the Landlord fit at least one alarm on each floor (in the hall and landing areas).

Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)? If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households (i.e. not all of the same family) it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are 3 or more tenants not all related in any property, it is still likely to be an HMO, and special Management rules will apply.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities.

Tenancy Deposit Protection

All deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme is supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR). Landlords and letting agents can choose between two types of scheme; a single custodial scheme and two insurance-based schemes.

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005

The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled people’s rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let, and commonhold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Since 1st October 2008 landlords in England and Wales offering property for rent are required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for their property. In Scotland EPCs for rental properties have been required since January 2009. The certificates must be provided free either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted. An EPCs is valid for 10 years. We can arrange an EPC inspection for our landlord clients upon request.


The above is a brief summary of landlords’ responsibilities and of the laws surrounding tenanted property. We hope that you find it useful. If there are any aspects of which you are unsure, please ask us. We look forward to being of assistance to you in the letting and management of your property. If you wish you can print this page by using your browser Print option.

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