Both of the Directors of SAMS each have 30 years’ experience as a 100% dedicated, independent lettings specialist, and are still passionate about the business after all these years! We provide a comprehensive property management service without additional hidden fees that other Agents usually charge. For example, we do not charge at the end of fixed term tenancies when they become statutory fixed term tenancies or half the first month’s rent as an administration fee to name but a few. If you check out other Agents websites in the Plymouth area I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what our charges are compared to them, and to top it off we give great friendly customer service too.
Also, probably very uniquely, we care a lot about our tenants too as they rightly deserve to live in well maintained, safe, properly run homes and we hope the days of unscrupulous and rogue landlords are soon put well and truly in the past. We see them equally as our clients as well as our landlords because it’s so important to have great team work between ourselves, the landlord and tenant for the benefit of all.
Our realistic commission fee is taken from the rents received and we do not charge any upfront set up fees before the property is let.
We also have Professional Indemnity Insurance and separate Client Money Protection, which is now a legal requirement.
The process of letting a property can be complex and time consuming and it is so important to get it right from the start. There are so many legal requirements starting with an EPC which is needed in order to start the marketing process, right through to the gas and electrical certificates required in order to protect both your interests and also the safety of the tenant. Our experienced and accredited staff are fully trained in all aspects of lettings and boast a wealth of local knowledge and can help and advise you through this process.
We will ensure all the legal obligations and requirements are fully met to ensure a successful tenancy.
Fully Managed Services
With all the complex legislation to understand and be compliant with and the pitfalls and costs for getting it wrong this really is a no-brainer. For an average of a couple of pounds a day, you can have SAMS take all the worry away and deal with the full management of your property. In the past 12 months or so between 2015 – 2016, there have been approximately thirteen changes in legislation that we have had to deal with. This involves training, internal system and process changing, amending and updating paperwork, obtaining new template documents, keeping landlords up to date, sourcing new Contractors and so it goes on and this is just when changes occur! It also includes the day to day provision of communication, negotiation, mediation, trouble-shooting, guidance, advice and support! We are professional specialists who take what we do very seriously and the fee we charge for this expert service is extremely reasonable for complete peace of mind for safeguarding your asset, as being a landlord is not a hobby, it is a serious business.
From the first contact either by phone or in person, we will have a chat to discuss the basic details of your property, where it is, the number of bedrooms, and the terms of our services. Once we have done this and you hopefully like what you hear, we will arrange to meet you at the property to carry out an honest, realistic and achievable property appraisal and valuation. We will give advice based on recent market values in the area for similar sized properties and as with every property, presentation and the standard of fittings are all important, especially when trying to attract a good quality tenant who will care for and appreciate your home. Your type of preferred tenant will also be discussed, your preferences will be taken into account and we are happy to work to these requests.
If you decide to go ahead and confirm SAMS as your Managing Agent and are happy with the rental figure we suggest, we will ask you to sign a Management Agreement and to complete a Landlords Questionnaire giving us all the finer details about the property. You will need to provide us with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and keys for access. We will also need your photo i.d. and proof that you own the property as well as proof of where you live. We will then visit the property to take all the details and photographs so that we can advertise it on Rightmove, Zoopla, PrimeLocation and on the SAMS Office advertising boards. We will also arrange for a To Let board to be erected where one is allowed and our advertising will continue until the property is let.
Before any viewings take place, we talk though the comprehensive referencing check process with the applicant to see if they would be suitable and would be likely to pass the affordability check from the information initially given. Following a satisfactory discussion a viewing is arranged and one of SAMS trained Lettings Negotiators would meet them at the property.
Comprehensive credit referencing is carried out on all tenants and we employ a specialist independent third party to carry out this work. We take all steps to ensure the highest calibre of tenant and checks for County Court Judgements (CCJ’s), Bankruptcies etc, are undertaken together with proof of income from their employer and references from their present or previous landlords/ Agent. Guarantors are also referenced if required.
We meet all tenants face to face and take the necessary documentation to comply with the recent legislation. These details are recorded and kept as proof that they were undertaken.
A deposit is taken on all tenancies and held in a separate Clients account until it is logged and submitted to the Deposit Protection Service (DPS). We also ensure the Prescribed Information is completed as required.
All our assured shorthold tenancy agreements are initially for a fixed term of 6 months and they then roll over to become statutory periodic tenancies. We DO NOT charge landlords or tenants when this happens, unlike a lot of other Letting Agents. Additional clauses are added as applicable, for example if permission has been given for a pet. An additional separate Pet Disclaimer is also signed by the tenant, at no cost to either the Landlord or Tenant.
LEGISLATION AND SAFETY – Tests and certificates which are required before a tenancy starts.
This list is long and continues to grow with recent new rules and regulations. Some checks are mandatory, some are seen to be best practice but as far as SAMS are concerned, they all need to be in place before we allow a tenant to take occupation. This includes all of the following:-
Landlords Gas Safety Report – This is a legal requirement and needs to be completed on an annual basis.
Electrical Safety regulations – Fixed wiring (Periodic report) and PAT (Portable Appliance Testing if appliances are supplied) – this is not mandatory but it soon will be under the new Housing & Planning Act. We have always made it a condition of our Management to have this carried out to ensure tenants safety and to be able to prove best practice. Also it will avoid you being prosecuted under the Defective Premises Act in the event of an injury to a tenant.
Legionnaires Risk Assessment – We can send you a free link to our own Risk Assessment so that you can carry this out yourself as a competent person. The Health and Safety Executive are quite clear on their advice, you do not need Legionella testing or a certificate, and you only need to assess the risk and this does not require an in-depth, detailed assessment.
Fire Risk Assessment – We can provide you with a free link to carry out your own Fire Risk Assessment. If you feel unable to do this, we can recommend someone to carry this out for you.
Fire alarm and emergency lighting certificate (if applicable). If you have a Licensed HMO this will be a requirement.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms – These will need to be installed and proven as working on the day a tenancy starts.
We can advise you on all aspects of your legal requirements and we employ qualified Contractors to carry out the work. Alternatively you can use your own Contractor if preferred.
It is a rule of thumb to assume that most student occupied properties will fall into the category of an HMO and the larger houses will probably also need to be licensed with the Local Authority too. There are certain rules and regulations relating to HMO’s, and it is important to understand your legal responsibilities and take expert advice, as the rules can be quite complex. The Directors of SAMS were involved in the original negotiations with Plymouth City Council when the Licensing fees were set prior to Licensing being introduced so have all the knowledge needed to help and advise you.
Floor plans are an excellent way of promoting your property as they give tenants a perfect idea of the layout and room sizes. We really recommend having this carried out as the plans can be advertised on our website, and also on Zoopla and Rightmove. We can arrange this for you for a very reasonable one-off fee and they can be used every time the property needs advertising.
Whether your property is to be let furnished or unfurnished we will carry out a full and detailed Inventory as part of the service and there is no additional fee for this. We do this just before the tenant moves in to make sure the details and meter readings are accurate so we can lock everything up knowing it’s not going to change before the tenant moves in. We take a large amount of photos too showing the condition of everything in the property and also any outside areas such as garages and sheds.
Rents are paid every calendar month on the anniversary of the move in date. Most tenants arrange for this to be on or near to their pay day so there are sufficient funds in their account to allow for the standing order to take place. The funds are paid into the Client account and we employ an independent bookkeeper to raise the Landlord Statements which are either emailed or posted, depending on preference. In the unlikely event of rent being overdue, this will be dealt with immediately and chased until the payment has been received. Separate Rent Guarantee cover can be taken if required.
We meet the tenant personally in our Offices on the move-in day and make sure everything has been completed and verified before the keys are handed over. The first month’s rent has to be cleared funds and they are usually made by bank transfer direct to the SAMS Client account but we can also accept card payments via WorldPay. The tenant has to sign to say they have collected everything from us and these records are kept for the duration of the tenancy.
We inform South West Water and the Council Tax Office of the new tenants details but tell the tenant it is also their responsibility to register the same as due to the Data Protection Act, they cannot allow a third party to register someone else.
It is an annoying fact of life that no matter how hard you prepare for a tenancy, things can and do go wrong. Roofs leak, boilers stop working, you name it, it can happen. Over the years we have dealt with everything you can imagine, from big jobs to the smallest hiccup. We do not have our own in-house workmen, as we think it is far better to employ a wide range of qualified independent Contractors who can give a good prompt service, and we retain copies of their Public Liability insurance. They are chosen not only on price, but equally importantly on the quality of their work, and their speed at attending to problems. It is so important to react quickly so that the tenants are not inconvenienced and it is our aim to deal with problems within 24 hours. We have an online property fault reporting system and also give tenants out of hours emergency contact details. Landlords can of course arrange for their own preferred Contractors to carry out repairs, and we will liaise with them throughout the works. It is important to accurately record all maintenance and we work hard to keep these records up to date.
We like to work with the tenants on the timing of these visits as we feel it is an important courtesy towards them as it is their home. We ask if we can visit, we don’t tell them and we don’t go in with keys unless they have given permission as we always make sure they give us prior consent to the visit. Not only that, we believe it is essential to stay in touch and discuss how things are with them, as we like to have a friendly professional relationship. In our experience this works well and creates a feeling of teamwork, showing that we are there equally for them throughout the tenancy. This in turn benefits the tenant and landlord alike. The visits are recorded and any maintenance picked up is forwarded to the landlord so that it can be actioned. As a guide, the visits are usually undertaken every three months.
As soon as we receive notice that a tenant is due to leave, we arrange to visit them at the property to go through the end of tenancy leaving procedures so they know what is expected. We then visit again to carry out the check back, take photographs and meter readings and check through the Inventory.
Deposits can cover damaged items, outstanding debts such as non-payment of rent, and problems found at the end of the tenancy such as cleaning. We actively involve the tenant and landlord so that wherever possible we get an agreement from all parties on the deductions. This is very often a time consuming and frustrating process but it is important that we give an experienced, unbiased assessment allowing for fair wear and tear, yet actively claim for damages as a result of deliberate or negligent acts. If a claim is going to be made from the deposit, invoices and receipts will be required to try and reach agreement with the tenant.