Letting Property in Cambridge

For some, letting a property is an appealing investment opportunity. For others, it can provide an economical solution to filling a room or property that is not currently in use. Either way, a number of considerations need to be made when preparing to let a property, at Citystay Property Agents, we have put together the following helpful guide for Landlords.

The Letting Process

Step 1 – Preparing to Let

Whether you are purchasing your first buy-to-let investment or expanding an existing portfolio, there are many aspects to consider, to ensure you maximise the potential return on your investment.

Arranging a second mortgage for a rental property is often more expensive than a typical residential mortgage. These mortgages are called buy-to-let mortgages.

Buy-to-let mortgage products require different criteria than a typical residential home mortgage. If the property you intend to let is a second property and you are not buying it outright, you will require a buy-to-let mortgage.

Lenders usually charge higher administration fees, and the interest is also generally higher. Buy-to-let mortgages also typically require a larger deposit, often around 25%. For more information on buy-to-let mortgages, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Citystay Property Agents. We do not provide advice directly, however we work with trusted financial and mortgage advisors who will be happy to discuss your requirements and find the right product for yourself.

If you are looking to buy a second home to live in, and plan to let the one you move out of, a residential mortgage will be required for your new home, and your previous home’s mortgage will need to be changed to a buy-to-let mortgage, unless you are buying the properties outright.

The property market in Cambridge moves at a fast pace and there are generally intermittent periods where prices rise or fall. When you buy a property and it appreciates in value, the profit is referred to as the capital growth. If the money received in rent is greater than the cost of owning and managing the property, a profit can also be made through rental income. Rental income is subject to income tax, and any profit from capital growth made on the sale of a second property may be subject to capital gains tax.

More information on this can be found below in our Cost of Letting a Property Section.

The ratio of property value to rental value is inconsistent and the highest valued properties do not necessarily command the highest rental yields, so you should speak to a property investment expert to get suitable recommendations based on whether you hope to get a high rental income, a high capital growth, or a balance of both.

For more information on rental valuations, see our guide below to valuing your property.

Anyone purchasing an additional residential property such as a buy-to-let or second home will be charged a 3% surcharge on each of the stamp duty threshold bands.

Step 2 – Choosing the Right Property & Tenants

Letting and managing a residential investment property requires knowledge, time, and maintenance in order to maximise its full market potential and ultimately attract a healthy return.

If you are intending to manage your own property and tenants, you may need to consider the proximity of your rental property. This is important, as you will need to make yourself easily available to your tenants and be able to quickly and efficiently deal with any necessary maintenance and upkeep that may be required to your property.

If you engage Citystay Property Agents as your letting agent to manage your property – we will take care of the maintenance works, rent collection, carrying out of property inspections, and handling all the administration surrounding the property and tenancy. We remove the hassle of self managing a rental property in Cambridge, meaning it is not essential for you to live nearby.

As an agency with a fresh perspective, we offer:-

  • Detailed local market knowledge.
  • Extensive industry experience.
  • Outstanding customer service and professionalism.

You may wish to seek guidance from Citystay Property Agents on choosing the location of your investment and fully understanding UK legislation and how to protect your investment.

Different properties appeal to different tenants, so if you are buying to let, you may want to begin a search for a property with your ideal tenant in mind. Whether the property is furnished or not will help determine the rental value and if furnished, the quality of furniture and fittings should reflect the expectations of the target tenant.

Once the property is ready for occupancy and the rental value has been determined, it is ready to be marketed to a suitable audience, and any prospective tenants should be vetted. This is another area where Citystay Property Agents will be able to help.

More information can be found in our guide to finding the right tenants.

Once a suitable tenant has been found, Citystay Property Agents will draw up a tenancy agreement denoting the amount and frequency of the rent, the deposit details, length of tenancy, inventory, as well as the landlord and tenant obligations. The tenancy agreement will also need to include the required length of notice for either party to terminate the contract, key contact details and details of the utility suppliers.

Deposits for assured shorthold tenancies are restricted to no more than the value of five weeks’ rent if the annual rent for the tenancy is less than £50,000 and no more than six weeks’ rent if the annual rent is over £50,000. Deposits for tenancies which do not come under the Housing Act 1988 are not restricted but are commonly the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. Deposits for assured shorthold tenancies need to be protected by one of the governments approved Deposit Protection Schemes within 30 days of receipt. Citystay Property Agents register all deposits with The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

Step 3 – Valuing Your Property

To determine the rental value of a property it is important to understand the local market and local rental demand.

It is also crucial to keep in mind that the Cambridge lettings market experiences seasonal patterns. Generally, the peak rental market occurs around the spring and summer months, while December and January are both traditionally subdued periods in the market. This means property prices and rental values are not always aligned, so more expensive properties do not always command the highest rent, as it is also dependent on the seasonal market. Many landlords will look for annual rental returns that exceed their expenses (i.e. their mortgage repayments, letting agent fees, insurance, and maintenance), as this will deliver a profit.

In other cases, landlords may be satisfied with a rental income that does not deliver a profit if they are confident that the property’s value is increasing, meaning they will benefit from capital growth.

In general, a combination of rental income and capital growth is often possible, particularly in the long term where the trend for property value is generally an upwards one.

Rental income is subject to income tax, so you will need to inform HMRC of your new revenue stream. You should contact a qualified accountant or HMRC directly for independent advice and to find out more information about your financial responsibilities as a landlord. Citystay Property Agents work with trusted financial advisors, who will be more than willing to assist with any queries you may have.

If you are going to be living outside the UK for more than six months in the year, Citystay Property Agents will need to deduct tax at the basic rate on behalf of HMRC. You can apply directly to HMRC for approval to receive rent without NRL (Non Residential Landlord) tax being deducted at source using the NRL form available on the HMRC website. HMRC’s ‘approved’ must be addressed to the agent or person collecting the rent. An ‘approval’ is not transferrable.

Short tenancies can generally be more lucrative, but with the increased churn comes an increase in administration and a greater risk of voids – periods when a property is vacant, and no rent is collected.

Longer term tenancies reduce the risk of vacant periods and rent increases can be included in the tenancy agreement, although no more than once per year. Otherwise, rents can be increased for a new term, but this needs to be negotiated so the tenant can decide whether they want to extend the contract. Length of tenancy should therefore be considered when setting the rental value. Rental figures can be quoted weekly or monthly and are usually collected per calendar month, quarterly or six monthly.

Whether the property is furnished or unfurnished will not necessarily determine the rental yield of a property.

A furnished property will be more appealing to certain types of tenants and not so appealing to others. Whether to let a property furnished or not should be considered when deciding on the target tenant. As a landlord, if you can be flexible with the furnishing in your rental property and offer prospective tenants the option to rent unfurnished, fully furnished or part furnished, this will widen the audience and possibly result in finding a new tenant quickly. Citystay Property Agents will be able to advise you on the type of property that will appeal to the right tenants and ultimately influence its rental potential.

As with any property, it is inevitable that repairs and maintenance will be required over time, and a landlord should make any necessary repairs which are their responsibility promptly. Putting aside some of the rent each month for contingencies will mean there is money available for when things go wrong.

A contingency fund may also help cover any mortgage repayments during periods when the property is vacant, and no rent is being paid. Void periods need to be considered, so landlords do not overstretch themselves with mortgage repayments.

Step 4 – Choosing & Appointing an Agent

Letting agents can help new and experienced landlords with every aspect of the letting process.

Some landlords will choose a letting agent to simply market a property and then take over the management of their rental property once a tenant is in place. Other landlords prefer the entire process, including rent collection and emergency repairs, renewals, gas, and electrical safety checks to be managed by a professional letting agent. Citystay Property Agent’s range of services have been designed to offer Landlords the ability to choose the level of service that best suits them.

Letting fees are usually payable monthly from the rent collected, based on a percentage of the rent received.

Your “right to rent” as an adult has to be evidenced by law prior to a tenancy beginning. Usually a passport and visa, where relevant, suffices.

Evidence of current residency usually via a utility bill/service provider bill or bank statement/in your name dated within the last three months.

The most basic service we offer is finding a suitable tenant; this usually includes advertising, vetting the tenant and showing them around the property. Citystay Property Agents have prospective tenants already registered on our database.

As part of the service we offer, we arrange credit checks to be carried out on any prospective tenant and will also obtain references from their current employer and previous landlord. We use an online system to complete these checks, to ensure that the process is as smooth, thorough and efficient as possible.

Combining all of the Let Only Service, with ongoing rent collection is another service offered by Citystay Property Agents.

For this service, we charge an ongoing fee of 6% (5% + VAT) of the monthly rent.

Appointing Citystay Property Agents as the managing agent to help manage your investment has many benefits including dealing with all matters that arise, any emergencies, as well as managing the general upkeep of the property.

This is an appealing choice for many landlords as Citystay Property Agents deal with all the time consuming and often stressful day-to-day management of the property. This includes emergency repairs and scheduling property visits, liaising with utility suppliers and the local authority as well as arranging professional cleaning and deposit settlement, giving peace of mind that the property and tenants are in good hands.

This degree of service costs 12% of the rental income excluding letting service fees, which is paid in line with the way the rent is paid, e.g. monthly, quarterly, six-monthly, etc. Should ‘worst case’ scenarios arise such as infestations, leaks, gas, or electrical issues, Citystay Property Agents will be available to deal with emergency work quickly.

At Citystay Property Agents, we offer other property management services charged at an additional cost to the previously mentioned full management service. These services can be more flexible and tailored to suit your requirements and can be found here.

Step 5 – Preparing Your Property

When preparing a rental property for a viewing it will, in some regards, be similar to presenting a property for sale. The property needs to be clean, outstanding repairs should be completed and freshly decorated properties may be more appealing to some tenants.

Sometimes properties that are let fully furnished may influence the way prospective tenants make their evaluation. With some short-term lets the prospective tenant may also require bed linen, towels, and crockery to be included. The wider Citystay Group are experts in this service as well, should this be of interest to landlords.

To attract the best possible tenants, it may be necessary to refurbish your property or carry out maintenance work – we have access to qualified and vetted tradesmen and contractors, should this be required.

How you present the property will depend on the type of tenant you want to attract. Students and graduates may want a furnished property but are not likely to expect the same quality of furnishings as that expected by young professionals, corporate and family tenants.

When marketing a property for sale, many homeowners decorate their home in neutral colours so prospective buyers are presented with a blank canvas on which they can make their mark. At Citystay Property Agents, we believe this is a suitable approach for rental properties too.

Whether you permit tenants to decorate elements of the property themselves is a decision that needs careful consideration. If tenants are permitted to decorate, the result might not be to everyone’s taste, so further decorating may be required at the end of the occupancy.

If you do agree to your tenants decorating during the tenancy, then terms and conditions should be clearly set out within the terms of the tenancy agreement, with regards to quality of works, materials or colours used and whether the property should be returned to a neutral state at the end of the tenancy. It is worth remembering that a tenant who is permitted to decorate may feel more at home and inclined to stay longer.

If you live in the home you intend to let, you should clean the property thoroughly and remove any clutter and personal items, such as children’s toys, from sight in preparation of the viewing. If you have other tenants still in the property, you may want to consider arranging for a professional cleaner to visit, depending on how the tenants have left the property. Citystay Property Agents can arrange this on your behalf, if required.

Before each tenancy you may wish to redecorate and replace any worn out furniture. This will often be determined by the type of tenant you expect to attract and how much you would like to maximise the return on your investment.

The property must be always serviceable, and no short cuts should be made when it comes to the plumbing, wiring and safety and general maintenance of the property, all of which must be sound.

The windows and doors should be secure, and the gas and electrical installations and appliances should be serviced or checked annually. Citystay Property Agents are here to advise you on which work is essential for you to carry out.

Citystay Property Agents conduct and manage viewings. We will speak to any existing tenants and give them sufficient notice. If you are living in the property while the viewing is taking place, it may help the prospective tenant feel more relaxed if you are absent. On the other hand, we may advise you to be there for viewings to meet prospective tenants in person.

Step 6 – Length of Tenancy

For private rentals, the most common type of tenancy in England is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. These tenancies usually begin as fixed term tenancies where the duration is defined from the outset, typically anywhere between 6 months to three years (but can be up to seven years) as mutually agreed between the landlord and tenant.

An AST can be terminated at the end of a fixed term or in line with a pre negotiated break clause within the agreement by either party. A landlord must always serve a prescribed notice (a Section 21 Notice) to gain possession of the property and may need to obtain a court order.

Currently it is necessary to give tenants at least two months’ prior notice which cannot be served until after the initial four months of the tenancy have expired and only in accordance with a break clause or at the end of the fixed term. However, if the tenant is in serious breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement (including rent arrears) then the landlord can apply to the courts for a possession order, citing one of the Grounds for Possession contained in the Housing Act 1988 (as amended).

The current regulations outlined above are subject to change, pending the passing of the Renters (Reform) Bill. 

At the end of the fixed term, a new fixed term agreement is often made, or the tenants move out. Alternatively, the tenancy might become a periodic tenancy. Periodic tenancies do not have a fixed end date but continue on a month-by-month basis until ended by either the landlord or the tenant. Again, if the landlord wants to end the tenancy, they must serve a Section 21 Notice or one of the Grounds for Possession Notices as above to end the tenancy.

Similarly, this is also subject to change, pending the passing of the Renters (Reform) Bill.

Fixed term tenancies can be for any length of term agreed between the landlord and the tenant to suit their circumstances (up to seven years). Longer fixed terms can often provide security to landlords and tenants. For landlords, a longer tenancy is a good indicator that there will be a steady stream of rent and a reduced risk of the property being empty. For a tenant, a long tenancy gives them more time to settle into the property.

The type of tenant your property is likely to attract should be considered when deciding the term of a tenancy. If you have a property that is likely to appeal to a family, a six-month tenancy may be less appealing. Although it may not necessarily occur this way as it is also dependent on the prospective tenants’ circumstances. If the term is more than three years, the tenancy agreement will need to be prepared and signed as a Deed.

As in other ASTs the deposit must be protected by a government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. The deposit for a joint tenancy is treated as a deposit for all named tenants.

At the end of the tenancy, any agreed deductions from the joint tenancy deposit are taken from the entire deposit – disputes cannot be raised against individual shares. It is common for tenants to be required to nominate a ‘lead tenant’ who will act on behalf of all tenants throughout the deposit protection process.

You will be unable to increase the rent during a fixed term tenancy unless you have already agreed this with the tenant within the tenancy agreement.

At the point of renewal, if you appoint Citystay Property Agents, we can negotiate a rent increase on your behalf and would usually commence negotiations around three months before the end of the fixed term. By giving the tenant sufficient time to make this decision, you will have more time to find a new tenant should the current tenant decide to move out at the end of the agreed term.

Short-term let rentals, typically a few weeks to six months, often command higher rents and may appeal to certain types of tenants. If the property appeals to tenants looking for short term lets, this approach can be lucrative for landlords and homeowners looking to temporarily let their property.

As short-term lets bring with them an increased turnover of different tenants, there is often more administration, wear and tear and the risk of void periods is increased. The Citystay Group have been operating short-term lets in Cambridge since 2008 and are highly experienced in this field. Should you wish to discuss this as a potential option, then please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be delighted to advise on the suitability of letting your property on a short term basis.

Step 7 – Finding the Right Tenants

Different types of properties will appeal to different people, so it is important to understand your market in order to find the right tenants. For example, your decision as to whether tenants will be permitted to smoke in the property, may affect a prospective tenant’s decision to rent the property.

Generally, the type of tenant you choose may affect the duration of their tenancy period and are generally categorised as follows: –

Young professionals often fill their time with working and socialising, so may require simple, yet modern living accommodation. Many will share with friends, before buying a place of their own. As Cambridge is at the vanguard of technological and pharmaceutical advancements, there is a high proportion of young professionals, in well paid jobs, employed in the city, seeking rented accommodation.

Families are often looking for larger spaces that are unfurnished and may bring many personal belongings with them, however some may wish to move into a readily furnished property, especially if they are coming from abroad.

When a company takes a tenancy for the benefit of one or more of their employees (also commonly referred to as a company let). This type of tenant may have had their relocation paid for by their company.

An extremely large demographic in the Cambridge rental market. Students will usually be looking for furnished accommodation that is near their place of study or work placement. Depending on their academic circumstances, they may rent long or short term.

This group of tenants may include retired couples. These tenants often spend much of their time at home and can be long-term tenants.

Tenants on housing benefits often occupy rental properties that have a lower capital value to rent ratio. This can be attractive to some landlords, as the return on investment is typically higher.

Using Citystay Property Agents to find the Right Tenants.

At Citystay Property Agents, you will deal with an experienced professional who knows the area well. They will keep you informed on any prospective tenants interested in renting your property and what they thought about your property after the viewing. Our team will show prospective tenants around the property on your behalf, making sure it is convenient for you and any current tenants.

Our tenant referencing service, as outlined above, is designed to ensure our landlords are always presented with the most suitable tenants for their property.

Step 8 – Agreeing the Tenancy

Once a suitable tenant has been found and you have accepted the tenant application, there will be some important paperwork to complete before the tenancy can start.

At this stage, the let is agreed subject to contract and satisfactory references. At Citystay Property Agents we use an independent, specialist referencing company which can also offer other services, such as rent protection insurance. Whilst we believe strongly in the referencing process, we do also advise our landlords to consider a rent protection insurance policy to ensure peace of mind.

If you are happy with the reference reports, we will put together the tenancy agreement that sets out exactly the terms of your contract with your tenant, including any special requirements you may have.

Among other pertinent details and conditions, the tenancy agreement will include the following:

  • The address of the rental property
  • The name and address of the landlord
  • The name of the tenant(s)
  • The date the tenancy will commence.
  • The amount of rent to be collected and the frequency of its collection.
  • The duration of the tenancy
  • The amount of the deposit that has been paid
  • The details of the tenancy deposit scheme being used.
  • The reasons for making claims against the deposit at the end of the tenancy (e.g. unpaid rent and damaged property beyond reasonable wear and tear)
  • How and when the deposit will be returned or when a payment may be required from the tenant
  • What to do if there is a dispute over the deposit
  • What other payments need to be made by the tenant (e.g. Council Tax and utility bills)
  • Whether sub-letting is permitted
  • Any agreements regarding pets
  • Whether smoking is permitted
  • The written notice period required from the landlord to request access to the property for inspection, to carry out works, or safety checks, etc (this must be at least 24 hours)
  • The maximum length of time the property can be left vacant during a tenancy without informing the landlord.

The most common type of tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). ASTs can be either periodic tenancies or fixed term tenancies. The duration can be decided upon between the landlord and the tenant; six months to three years are the most common terms.

Periodic tenancies have no fixed end date but run on a month by month or rolling basis, depending on how frequently the rent is collected. In practice, it is usually assumed that both parties are happy for the tenancy to continue until either gives notice to end the tenancy.

Any tenancy which does not meet the criteria to be an AST will fall outside of the Housing Act 1988. These types of tenancies are known as Non-Housing Act tenancies (NHAs). They may also be known as company lets or common law tenancies.

Different rules apply to these types of tenancies, such as to how a tenancy can be ended, the amount of deposit a tenant can be asked to pay, and what payments a tenant can be asked to make.

Finally, the contents and condition of your property should be checked against an inventory at the point when your tenants move in. We utilise the latest technology to provide the most effective and transparent inventory procedure. Our charges for inventory checks can be found here.

We will then supply you and your tenant a copy of the inventory check in report and, if instructed, will undertake another inspection at the end of tenancy to check that nothing is missing or damaged. This will be the basis of making any claim against the deposit.

Step 9 – Taking Deposits & Moving in Tenants

Whether you are working with Citystay Property Agents on a managed or non-managed basis, we will ensure you comply with legislation to protect all deposits for ASTs, providing you are using a Citystay Property Agents tenancy agreement. Before the tenancy starts, we will normally collect the deposit and the first rent payment on your behalf. As soon as this money clears, the signed tenancy agreement has been received from both the landlord and the tenant, and all other paperwork has been completed, the tenant can move in.

When an offer has been accepted by a landlord, the tenant is expected to pay a holding deposit. This is a commitment on the tenant’s behalf to renting the property, and the property is usually removed from the market at this stage.

For AST tenancies, a landlord or agent cannot request more than the equivalent of one week’s rent as a holding deposit and there are strict rules as to when or whether this is refundable, in full or in part, should the tenancy not proceed.

If the tenancy goes ahead then it is usual for this sum to be offset against the first rental payment.

Legislation surrounding tenant deposits dictates that for ASTs a tenant cannot be requested to pay more than the equivalent of five weeks’ rent as a deposit, if the annual rent is under £50,000.

If the rent is over £50,000 then this increases to the equivalent to a maximum of six weeks’ rent. This restriction does not apply to non-ASTs.

Once we have taken receipt of the deposit from the tenant, it needs to be protected with one of the government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes within 30 days of it being paid by the tenant. All necessary paperwork will also need to be issued to the tenant and any other relevant party within that timescale.

Citystay Property Agents protect all our deposits with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) Custodial scheme and provide all the relevant paperwork to both landlord and tenant, once complete.

The deposit should be duly returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy. You will be able to fairly deduct from the deposit any unpaid rent and the cost of dilapidations that goes beyond reasonable wear and tear, but this needs to be agreed with the tenant.

The inventory listing should be made or updated before a tenancy starts. The new tenants will be asked to attend a check-in appointment with our inventory clerk at the start of the tenancy after which they will be handed the keys. Each adult tenant should have a set of keys. Our inventory clerk will note the utility meter readings on the check-in report, confirm that they have tested the smoke alarms in the property and that they are in working order.

As the landlord, you should provide instruction manuals for the various appliances, and these should be made easily available to the tenant. You should leave instructions on how to operate appliances that are less intuitive.

Visiting the tenants a few weeks into their occupancy can ensure they are comfortable and settling in. The visit can also allay any concerns landlords may have when taking on new tenants that they have not met before. All visits need to be arranged with at least 24 hours’ written notice given to the tenants, or as per the notice stipulated in the tenancy agreement. Any visits must be with the consent of the tenant as they are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of the property. Keep in mind not to disturb your tenant too often, even by appointment.

Step 10 – Manging A Tenancy

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure the let property is safe and secure for your tenants, and when any issues arise, they will need to be managed and dealt with promptly.

There are several costs to consider when letting a property, including:

  • Letting agent fees, if applicable
  • Property maintenance and safety requirements
  • Income tax and capital gains tax (CGT)
  • Landlord insurance
  • Unpaid rent and void periods

Some of these costs are tax deductible including letting agent fees and landlord insurance. Find out more about the costs involved in letting a property in our guide.

Being a landlord requires an investment of time as well as finance. You will also need to be able to maintain a business relationship with the tenant. For example, if rent is late, you may need to assert your legal rights. If you do not have the time to manage your rental property, appointing a letting agent may be the solution.

Many landlords choose to appoint Citystay Property Agents as letting or managing agent. There are different levels of service available. These are available to be viewed here.

There are certain compliance and legislative responsibilities that landlords must adhere to. These include:

  • The property must be fit for letting.
  • Consent to let from any lender, insurer or freeholder should be obtained for every rental property where applicable.
  • Tenant deposits for AST must be properly protected by a government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of the tenant paying the sum.
  • A valid EPC must be available at the start of marketing the property showing an energy efficiency rating between A-E.
  • Each tenant must be provided with a copy of a valid gas safety record before the start of the tenancy.
  • The electrical system and appliances must be safe; for all rental properties a valid Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is mandatory.
  • Fire safety regulations must be met, including smoke alarms on every storey of the property and carbon monoxide alarms in each room where there is an affixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers). These must be tested and shown to be in working order the day the tenancy starts.
  • All furniture and furnishings provided must comply with regulations or be removed.
  • A legionella risk assessment must be carried out.

Citystay Property Agents can ensure compliance with all the above.

There are various documents and areas of ongoing administration that are required to let and manage a property. The extent to which you are involved will depend on whether you are managing the property yourself or appointing Citystay Property Agents to manage the property for you. Key areas to consider include:

  • Letting agent contracts
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Tenancy agreement
  • Notices to end the tenancy.
  • Inventory (at the beginning and end of a tenancy)
  • Tenant referencing
  • Right to Rent checks
  • Tenancy deposit protection
  • Deposit settlement.
  • Rent collection.
  • Compliance – gas, electrical and fire safety, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, EPC, furniture and furnishings, legionella, and landlord licensing

To ensure this is all completed fully, we strongly recommend appointing Citystay Property Agents on a fully managed basis.

Your tenant should bring any issues that arise to your attention (or to ourselves, if appointed to manage the property). If you manage the property yourself, you will need to find a suitable tradesperson to make any necessary repairs.

If we are managing the property, we will use one of our approved contactors to provide a quote for the work, which you will then need to agree to before the work is carried out.

You are required by law to give the tenant a written response to any legitimate maintenance or repair request within 14 days of the tenant notifying you of the issue, setting out how you intend to deal with it and a reasonable timescale.

Once your property is let you will have effectively given possession to the tenant. However, you will still need to protect your asset and ensure there are no issues. You may therefore wish to arrange property visits at intervals throughout the tenancy.

It is important to remember that unless it is an emergency, if you want to access the property you must provide your tenant with at least 24 hours’ written notice. Many landlords arrange for their property to be inspected twice in a rental period (every three months in a six-month tenancy or every six months in a 12-month tenancy).

As part of Citystay Property Agents fully managed service, quarterly property inspections are included.

It is your tenant’s responsibility to ensure that their rent is paid every month of the tenancy. If you manage the property yourself, you will need to agree how you receive the rent and at what frequency. If you appoint Citystay Property Agents, we will be able to arrange this for you and chase any late payments.

At Citystay Property Agents, we have an excellent knowledge of local market conditions and will be able to advise on negotiating rent increases. If you decide to manage your rental property yourself, you will need to keep up to date with the local market and ensure that you are increasing rent in line with the terms of the contract and relevant legislation.

Step 11 – End of Tenancy & Renewals

If the tenancy is a fixed term agreement, Citystay Property Agents will determine what your intentions are as well as the tenants’, usually two to three months prior to the end of tenancy as part of our service.

If both parties are happy to renew the tenancy, this will typically involve adjusting the rent, in line with the current market, or as pre-agreed in the original tenancy. However, it is also an opportunity to add or tailor other terms that both you and the tenant agree on.

Should you or your tenant not wish to renew the tenancy, you should check the contract to make sure proper notice is served. We will then start working on a new marketing plan for your property and the process of finding the right new tenant begins again.

If the property is managed, Citystay Property Agents will handle the tenant’s exit, including organising the outgoing inventory and the return of the keys. We will also arrange the release of the deposit minus any agreed deductions. If you have not instructed Citystay Property Agents on a fully managed basis, this additional service (Check In & Out Inventory) can still be provided at the commencement of a tenancy.

An inventory check out appointment should be arranged for the day the tenancy ends and in the presence of the tenant. The property should be inspected, and its condition should be cross checked against the original inventory check in report, allowing for fair wear and tear.

This can also be a good opportunity to carry out any maintenance that might be needed. If any damage has been caused by the tenant, the landlord may be justified in claiming against the tenant’s deposit to pay for the work.

If this is disputed by the tenant, independent arbitration may be required. This is a free service that will be available through the tenancy deposit protection scheme.

Tenancies can be ended before the fixed term has been reached, providing a break clause was included in the tenancy agreement and correct notice is given by one of the parties.

When a tenant has moved out, they must take all their possessions with them. They do not have an automatic right to go back into the property to collect items or to clean the property. This should all have been done before the tenancy ended.

If the tenant fails to vacate the property after valid notice has been served, or if the tenant has broken a major term of the tenancy agreement as defined by the Housing Act 1988, the landlord is able to apply to the courts for an order of possession and the tenant to be evicted.

The Cost of Letting a Property

One of our cornerstone values is transparency, to that end we have put the below guide together, providing insight into the costs involved with letting a property, to provide advice and peace of mind to any current or prospective landlords. We work with trusted financial advisors who would be able to provide sound and accurate financial advice on all the below.

Citystay Property Agent Fees

At Citystay Property Agents, we provide a variety of services that can make life easier for landlords. The degree of services we provide commands different prices, which are outlined here.

We can help market the property, introduce prospective tenants, collect rent (and chase it if it is not paid on time) and can also fully manage the property, including dealing with any emergency repairs.

Income Tax & Capital Gains Tax

Income tax needs to be paid on the rental income and if the price of a property has increased when it comes to selling, the profit may be subject to capital gains tax.


Landlords are obliged to keep the property in a serviceable state, and this comes at an expense. Many of these costs are tax deductible.

Landlord Insurance

Landlord insurance comes in three different tiers. There is buildings insurance, which covers the structure and protects against fire and flood damage. Then there is contents insurance, which is relevant to landlords renting out a property even if it is unfurnished. Thirdly, there is landlord liability insurance that covers landlords in the event of a tenant or visitor being injured in the property and the landlord is judged to be responsible.

Some policies also offer cover against potential legal expenses and home emergency cover to ensure core utilities, including gas and water, are quickly restored after an outage.

As well as these policies, we strongly advise, and can take out on behalf of landlords, rent protection insurance to cover them against unpaid rent.

Tenants are advised to take out their own insurance for their personal belongings as the landlord’s insurance will probably not cover these.

Safety Certificates & Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Unless there is no gas supply to the property (including no communal gas boiler within a block of flats), landlords are required to give a valid gas safety record to each tenant before the tenancy starts to show that the property meets the legal requirements and, within 28 days of any further check taking place during the tenancy. This also applies if heating or hot water is supplied by a boiler in another part of the building.

A landlord must ensure that the electric installation within the property is safe and provide a copy of a satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) to each tenant before any new tenancy, renewal tenancy or statutory periodic tenancy starts. All privately rented properties must have a satisfactory EICR in place for the duration of the tenancy.

An EICR is valid until the end date shown on the certificate; this is usually 5 years but can be shorter depending on the condition of the installation.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) must also be given to tenants at the point of marketing. Each EPC is valid for ten years. If the property is let under an assured shorthold tenancy, the efficiency rating for property must be between A-E, unless an exemption applies, and the property is listed on the PRS Exemption Register. From 31st December 2025, all new tenancies must have an energy performance of at least band C. From 31st December 2028, all existing tenancies must also have at least and EPC Band C rating, providing it is practical, cost-effective and affordable as defined under section 1(4) of the Energy Efficiency Regulations.

Citystay Property Agents can assist with the production of all the above.

Unpaid Rent, Voids & Contingency Funds

The risk of unpaid rent, during a tenancy, or no rent coming in due to the property being empty between tenancies, can be mitigated by only expecting to receive around 90% of the total potential rent throughout the course of a year. Many landlords will budget for this contingency and may also purchase a rental protection policy through Citystay Property Agents.

We advise that putting aside a little of each month’s rent means funds are available to cover any unforeseen expenses. It can also help make mortgage repayments during periods when no rent is being paid. Whilst Citystay Property Agents work to achieve maximum occupancy – there can be, on average, around 2 weeks void between an average tenancy term. For example this equates to a possible void period of 3-4 weeks over a 5-year period.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

It is important to know and understand your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. The tenancy agreement, which is signed by both the landlord and the tenant, will detail what each party is responsible for.

Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes

Where the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, landlords are obliged to place their tenants’ deposits in one of the Government approved tenancy deposit protection schemes. This is to ensure the deposit is protected and fairly returned to the tenant at the end of the agreed term.

You or Citystay Property Agents will need to protect the deposit with an approved scheme within 30 days of being paid by the tenant. We register deposits with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

If there are any disputes at the end of the tenancy, the deposit will be held until the issue is resolved. If the issue is not resolved, each scheme offers free independent adjudications to settle the matter.

Access to the Property

If you want to access the property you must provide the tenant with reasonable prior written notice, which is at least 24 hours prior or as agreed in the tenancy agreement. However, the tenant has the legal right to ‘quiet enjoyment’, meaning they can freely enjoy the property during their tenancy without frequent visits from the landlord and can refuse access.

Safety & General Maintenance

The tenant has the right to live in a safe and secure property that is in a good state of repair, and it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the property meets this standard. The Renters Reform Bill will seek to apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental sector to give tenants additional protection against substandard housing.

The property must meet the repairing, gas, electrical and fire safety standards stipulated in various Acts and Regulations. Landlords should also check whether there is a licensing scheme operating in the area. Regular inspections are required to ensure the standards are maintained.

If the property develops any defects to its structure or integral elements, including drains, gutters, pipes, wiring, toilets, sinks, as well as the supply of water, gas, electricity, heating and/or hot water to the property, then timely maintenance must be provided.

Landlords are required by law to check all gas-related equipment at least once every year, ensure that all electrical installations and appliances are safe before and during the tenancy and carry out a legionella assessment.

Landlords must test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at the start of the tenancy. Tenants are then responsible for regularly testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during the tenancy, replacing batteries when necessary as well as reporting any issues immediately. This should be outlined in the tenancy agreement.

If a tenant requests an inspection on health and safety grounds, a Housing Health, and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspection may take place. This could also happen if other properties in the area have failed to meet the required standards and the council suspects that your property may be in a similar condition.

After the inspection, there may be a list of actions that you are required to complete to bring the property up to the required standard.

If the property is furnished, the furniture must meet the guidelines set under the Furniture and Furnishings Fire and Safety Regulations 1988 (as amended 1993).

Evicting Tenants

In the case of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, the tenant has the right to remain in the property for six months, unless they break any major terms of the agreement. The tenancy can be terminated by either party after this time without providing a reason for termination if the tenancy agreement allows for this.

If the tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement, the landlord may be within their right to apply to the courts for a possession order by serving the tenant with notice under one of the Grounds contained in Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This is a formal procedure, and landlords must outline the specific terms the tenant has breached. It is always best to seek legal help when issuing such a notice. Citystay Property Agents work closely with a reputable local law firm, who are able to provide advice on such matters.

Landlords are entitled to dispose of any belongings left in the property after the tenancy has terminated but only by giving the tenant the required notice. Best endeavours should be made to contact the tenants and for them to retrieve their left property. Citystay Property Agent’s Tenancy agreement covers this.

Accident & Injuries within the Property

Landlords are strongly advised to take out letting specific buildings and contents insurance cover against any personal injuries claims by tenants, their visitors, or tradespeople while in the property.

Other Landlord Responsibilities

As well as the responsibilities mentioned above, the following are also applicable:-

  • You cannot discriminate against tenants or treat them differently because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, or religion.
  • Pregnant and disabled tenants should also receive fair and equal treatment.
  • You must keep to the terms outlined in the tenancy agreement.
  • You must supply your contact details to your tenants.
  • You must supply an up-to-date EPC which complies with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)
  • Locks cannot be changed without informing the tenant.
  • Allowing the tenants space to freely enjoy the rental property, avoiding unnecessary frequent visits.
  • Obtain all necessary contents to the letting, lender freeholder insurer.
  • Maintain the property in line with statutory requirements.
  • Safely protect any tenant data.
  • Carry out Right to Rent checks on all occupants of the property over the age of 18 before the start of the tenancy and as required during the tenancy.

Buy-to-Let Guide

Buy-to-let describes the act of buying an investment property with the intention of the owner becoming a landlord and renting the property to a tenant rather than living in it themselves.

Cambridge remains an excellent location for residential investment and is a highly sought after area by local and overseas investors.

Understanding Benefits & Risks

There are many potential benefits to investing in property and the financial returns can be twofold: there is the potential for capital growth if the value of the property appreciates and the property may also yield a regular rental income.

Buy-to-let mortgages generally cost more, both to arrange and monthly, than residential mortgages. Additional costs can occur as the property will require maintenance and financing tenancy void periods from your own funds. In addition, as with any investment, a profit cannot be guaranteed as the value may depreciate and the expenses could outweigh the rental yield.

Should you have a buy-to-let mortgage that could increase due to interest rates, a tenant’s rent cannot be increased until the tenancy contract has expired. There is no guarantee that you will be able to arrange continuous letting of the property, nor that rental income will be sufficient to meet the cost of the mortgage.

Financial Preparation

Buy-to-let mortgages are usually more expensive than residential mortgages, as lenders often consider them to have a higher associated risk. However, any difference can usually be balanced by rental yield. Although some lenders will limit the number or total value of buy-to-let mortgages available to an individual, others may provide services to help private investors expand their property portfolio.

Buying a rental property outright will mean the net rental income will be greater, as there will not be any mortgage repayments to make. Alternatively, an investor may choose to spread their money across a broader portfolio. When evaluating these options, it is prudent to seek independent tax advice to fully understand the associated risks, benefits, and tax implications.

Properties have low liquidity and cannot always be sold immediately if the investor needs to quickly recoup their money. However, unlike investments in stocks and shares, it is possible for property investors to directly influence the value of a property through renovation, depending on market conditions. The Cambridge property market is extremely resilient and is historically one of the last to be affected by market downturns, and also one of the quickest to recover.

Rental income will be subject to income tax and profit made on a property sale may be subject to Capital Gains Tax, so speaking to a tax professional should form part of your investigation.

Anyone purchasing an additional residential property such as a buy-to-let or second home will be charged a 3% surcharge on each of the stamp duty threshold bands.

Although Citystay Property Agents cannot directly provide financial advice, should you wish to discuss any financial matters, or any matters related to any mortgage product that you currently have, or are looking to take out, then please do not hesitate to contact us. We work with trusted and experienced tax, financial and mortgage advisors, to provide the best possible service and outcome for our clients.

Choosing the Right Investment

It is important to thoroughly research the property market in the area in which you are looking to invest. Any plans for local development may contribute to a property’s future value.

When considering investment properties, it is important to consider the type of tenants the property is likely to attract as the tastes and requirements of different tenants may differ. Families, young couples, students, and tenants receiving housing benefits all have specific needs, and different types of tenants will appeal to different landlords.

Citystay Property Agents are on hand to provide advice on choosing the right property for you.

Let-to-Buy Mortgages

If you find yourself in the position where you want to move home but not sell your current property, or if you are struggling to sell your current property, let-to-buy is a possible alternative. This will let you move into a new home without being pressurised to sell, potentially at a loss.

Should you have enough equity in your property, you could re-mortgage and release funds to put down a deposit on a new home. The rent you would receive from your existing property will assist in covering the cost of the let-to-buy mortgage, and in turn may enable you to take out a mortgage for your new home.

Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Although Citystay Property Agents cannot directly provide financial advice, should you wish to discuss any financial matters, or any matters related to any mortgage product that you currently have, or are looking to take out, then please do not hesitate to contact us. We work with trusted and experienced tax, financial and mortgage advisors, to provide the best possible service and outcome for our clients.

Becoming a Landlord & Managing Your Investment

For a rental property to fulfil its potential, it is important to have a suitable tenant ready to move in from the date of completion. The process of finding a tenant and the ongoing managing of the property can be outsourced to Citystay Property Agents and we offer a range of products to suit individual landlord needs.

Landlords will need to use a government-approved scheme to protect the tenant’s deposit, and there are a number of other landlord responsibilities that should be understood. Citystay Property Agents register deposits with TDS Custodial scheme and provide all the relevant details to all the relevant parties, as part of our service.

After the initial process of becoming a landlord is complete, many investors look to spread their investments and expand their property portfolio.


Citystay Property Agents can help you meet your landlord compliance requirements. The list of legal requirements for landlords can sometimes seem endless, making it a challenge to navigate. However, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property being let is compliant with several safety regulations.

As part of the letting process, we will also make sure that your tenancy agreement is in full compliance with the obligations you are required to follow as a landlord.

Our compliance services include, but are not limited to:-

  • Tenancy Deposit Protection
  • EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates)
  • Gas and electric safety checks
  • Inventory reports.

Short-Term Let Guide for Landlords

Short-term let rentals can be more lucrative than longer term rentals. Landlords can benefit from a higher rental return and the flexibility of extending tenancy contracts on a weekly or monthly basis at your discretion. Short-term lets can also come with increased periods of vacancy, which is why it is recommended landlords also consider long term tenants.

Short-term lets may be appealing to a landlord who is less reliant on a consistent rental income or has a property that is only empty for a short term – perhaps between longer term tenancies, or when they are away from their home for a given period.

The Citystay Group have been operating short-term lets via our various brands within the Cambridge market since 2008 and are vastly experienced in this field. If you are interested in the short-term let option, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Short-term let rentals typically, but not exclusively, attract the following types of tenants.

Some companies will look to put their staff into temporary accommodation if they are working away from home for a short, definite term.

An individual or couple may decide to find themselves temporary accommodation while they are working away from home.

Some tourists may prefer the home from home feel of a rental more to a hotel.

Before committing, homeowners may want to live in an area for a short while to get a feel for it.

If a homeowner is having substantial building work carried out at home, they may decide to temporarily move out or they may have to move out as a result of an insurance claim for flooding, fire, or subsidence.

Working with only trusted partners