|April 28, 2020||No Comments|
Covid-19 has paralyzed short-term lettings not only in Scotland, but also everywhere in the world. It seems that the disease is here to stay longer, and both British and Scottish governments talk about social distancing measures, at least until the end of this year. Although it is difficult to believe, the 2020 Fringe, together with other Edinburgh summer festivals, have been cancelled due to coronavirus woes – which will negatively affect demand for short-term tourist lets in Edinburgh. We have been approached by a number of short-term landlords interested in switching to long-term lettings. This is why we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide for property investors entering the Scottish residential rental market.
All residential landlords in Scotland must be registered and the Scottish Government has strictly regulated that segment of property management. Recently, the procedure has changed slightly. To now apply for a landlord registration number or renew it, prospective long-term landlords will need to have these safety certificates:
1. EPC, Energy Performance Certificate. All Home Reports should include an EPC, so you may already have it. Please bear in mind that after October 2020,the energy band needs to be at least E. After April 2022, band D will be the minimum threshold, so if the band is F or G, you will not be able to let the flat. EPC is valid for 10 years. It costs around £50-£60.
2. Gas safety certificate – necessary in properties with gas appliances (central heating, fireplace, hob). Depending on the number of items, the cost is around £70 and valid for 1 year.
3. EICR – Electrical Installation Condition Report. This concerns the condition of wiring and fixed items, e.g. sockets, lights and switches. The certificate costs£100-£140 (depending on flat size and electrician available etc.) All items need to comply with the latest regulations, so some remedial works may be required to bring them up to current standards. Such works vary both in scope and cost: sometimes no remedials are necessary (new builds). Modern flats may only require water resistant (IP rated) bathroom lights (around £50). The worst-case scenario for an average, 2 bedroom flat, is in the range of £700-£800,if a set of smoke/heat detectors and a new electrical RCD board are needed. EICR is usually valid for 5 years, although if the wiring is old, the electrician may certify it for 3 years only.
4. PAT – Portable Appliance Certificate is necessary when landlords provide portable appliances – like a microwave, kettle, table lamp, freestanding fridge or a freestanding washing machine. It costs £40-£60 (depending on number of items tested) and is valid for 1 year.
5. LRA – Legionella Risk Assessment. All landlords or their property managers should carry this out. Legionella bacteria multiply in stale water between 20C and 50C. Thus, cold water in all outlets should be below 20C and hot water above 50C. Quite often thermostatic valves in mixer showers need readjusting, as the default setting is around 45C. LRA is more complicated in older properties with cold-water tanks; they should be insulated, with a tight-fitting lid, and free from any debris or biofilm dirt inside. Prices of LRA differ depending on the heating system setup: If you have a combi-boiler, it would be around £40. Traditional heating systems with a cold water tank and a hot water cylinder will incur a higher fee, approx. £70-£80. There may be remedial works necessary – sometimes routine things like de-scaling showerheads or buying a tank insulation jacket. Unfortunately, cleaning a tank fitted in a tight space isa significant cost. An LRA certificate is valid for up to 2 years.
When you have finally obtained all certificates, you can apply to register as a Scottish landlord with the Scottish Landlord Register. The principal applicant pays £66; all other owners can apply free-of-charge. When you have applied, you can advertise your property for let (remember to include the council tax band, EPC rating and the fact that your landlord registration is pending).
You will need to make a significant decision: how will you let and manage your property? You may want to do everything yourself, from advertising (Gumtree is the easiest option for private landlords) to lettings to property management. But most landlords employ the services of letting agents. There are two typical rental services:
If you need any help choosing your future Edinburgh letting agent, please check this post: how to choose your best Edinburgh letting agent.