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We provide a personally tailored value-added service for owners of town and country houses, cottages and flats.

With over 20 years' experience in the property market, this family run Letting Agency based in Colchester, Essex can guide you through the obstacles confronting property owners today.

We will:-

  • make a free appraisal of your property and advise on its rental value and make recommendations for marketing;
  • market your property on our website and on Right Move and Primelocation as well as local newspapers;
  • arrange viewings;
  • take up references for prospective tenants;
  • draw up a tenancy agreement.

We can also:-

  • prepare and agree an inventory with the tenant;
  • arrange to lodge the tenant’s deposit with My Deposits or the DPS;
  • take meter readings;
  • at the end of the tenancy arrange the check-out and agree any deductions from the deposit.


Information and Recommendations for Landlords prior to letting a property



 1.      Presentation

The presentation of a property for letting is key to letting a property at a good rent and attracting a better quality of tenant who will look after it.

Generally tenants prefer a neutral decor, preferably freshly decorated.  Carpets and curtains should be in good clean condition and, again, preferably neutral.

Gardens should be seasonally tidy and well presented.  Landlords with larger gardens should consider employing a gardener and recovering the cost, or part of it, from the tenant within the recommended rent.  If this is done a tenant does not have to worry about looking after a large garden and the Landlord can rest assured that his/her garden is being looked after to his/her satisfaction.

Any known repairs or maintenance should ideally be remedied prior to the commencement of a tenancy.

Prior to the commencement of a tenancy a property should be cleaned (preferably professionally and receipts kept) together with the carpets and curtains.  Windows should be professionally cleaned both inside and out and gardens tidied and lawns mowed, according to season.

If a property is well presented and professionally cleaned at the commencement of a tenancy, it is far easier to expect a tenant to carry out the same at the determination of their tenancy.

Advice can be given as to how a property should be presented and recommendations as to any other work deemed necessary.

 2.     Unfurnished or Furnished Lettings

Most tenants are looking for unfurnished propoperties as they have their own furniture and therefore it is recommended that a property is let unfurnished.

Unfurnished properties should have carpets, curtains and the basic appliances (i.e. oven, hob, extractor, fridge/freezer).

If it is not possible to let a property unfurnished, any furniture left must be in good condition and comply with the fire and furnishing regulations and be clearly labelled.

 3.     Energy Performance Certificates

As of 1st October 2008 all new properties (except Listed buildings) being let should hold an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).  The Certificate is valid for ten years but it can be renewed any time a Landlord carries out work to a property to improve its energy efficiency.

The Certificate must be provided to the Tenant prior to the commencement of the tenancy.



4.     Mortgages and Insurance

Property owners with non buy-to-let mortgages should contact their mortgage company prior to letting their property.  Letting a property without consent from a mortgage company could lead to the mortgage being withdrawn and possibly the property being repossessed and the tenant being evicted.  Most lenders will allow a home owner to let a property on a twelve month tenancy on their existing mortgage without insisting on a specialist buy-to-let mortgage, albeit they may increase the interest rate.

Buy to let mortgages generally attract a higher rate of interest but are tailored to individual requirements and take into account the level of rent income on the amount of loan offered.  

Landlords are responsible for insuring their buildings and their possessions left within the property.  The insurance should also include personal liability insurance.  Property owners should also contact their Insurers to ensure that their Policy will cover them for damages by tenants and often these policies will require that a tenant is professionally referenced and that the tenant passes referencing. There are a number of Landlord specific policies on the market but Sophie Yates & Associates cannot recommend or advise upon insurance policies available.

 5.      Leasehold Properties

In most cases permission will be required from either a superior Landlord or Freeholder to let a property.  

Some Freeholders/ Superior Landlords will require a fee for such permission.



6.      Fire and Soft Furnishings

Consumer Protection Act 1987; The Fire and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1998; The Fire and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993; The Housing (Fire Safety in Houses of MO) Order 1997

Furniture and Soft Furnishings supplied within a property must comply with current regulations and show labels as being fire retardant.  Curtains and other window dressings do not come within the Legislation.

7.      Gas Appliances and Safety

Gas Appliance Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998

Landlords must ensure that all gas appliances are checked for safety every year by a 'Gas Safe' engineer and a certificate (CP12) is provided to the tenant in situ or to any prospective tenants prior to or on the day of occupation.  Occupation of a property without a Certificate puts a Landlord in breach of the Legislation and failure to comply could lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.

8.    Electrical Fittings and Appliances

Consumer Protection Act 1987; The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994; Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994; Building Regulations (Part P) 2005; Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, Section 11; Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

There is, at present, no statutory requirement to have the annual safety checks on electrical equipment but it is advisable to have this carried out by a recognised NICEIC qualified electrician. Landlords have a duty of care towards tenants and often it is a requirement of a Buildings Insurance policy for all equipment to comply.  Many tenants will request documentation on safety checks.

On 1st October 2015 new regulations came in stipulating that smoke alarms are required to be fitted to each floor of a property and carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a solid fuel appliance.

Knowingly having illegal or non certified work carried out can result in a fine and/or prison sentence in the event of the death or injury to a tenant or others.  The Agent or Landlord (or person acting for him) can be held jointly accountable. 

9.      Legionella

The Health and Safety Executive has recently updated legislation regarding the control of Legionnaires' Disease and all residential properties rented out must now have a risk assessment undertaken to determine the risk of Legionella, thus allowing Landlords to implement a suitable control scheme.

10.    Plumbing

There is currently no Legislation with regards to the use of qualified engineers (except for gas appliances), however is it strongly recommended that Landlords use qualified engineers who are registered to Gas Safe or the Institute of Plumbers.  Registered engineers should always be used for installation works.  It is our company policy only to use registered engineers.


Leases and Inventories

11.     Leases

The legislation is very flexible at present and Landlords and tenants can enter into a variety of agreements for the letting of a property.  The most popular is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy, introduced by the Housing Act 1988.  In order to qualify for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, the following criteria need to be satisfied:

 i) the property needs to be the principal prime residence for the tenants;

ii) the let property needs to extend to less than two acres;

iii) the rent shall not exceed £100,000 per annum.                              

Where an applicant is renting a property as a holiday or weekend home the letting falls outside the bounds of the Housing Act.  The agreement is then a straightforward contract between the landlord and tenant and it is not governed by the Housing Act.

A Company Tenancy Agreement can also be entered into in the event of a company tenant being forthcoming.  This agreement can be tailored to suit the specific circumstances and is also outside the Housing Act.

12.     Inventories and Schedules of Condition

An Independent Inventory Clerk is used to prepare the Inventory and Schedule of Condition for each property. Sophie Yates & Associates normally carries out the check-in as part of the finding service.  It is recommended that the Inventory Clerk preparing the Inventory and Schedule of Condition is used to carry out the check out but a Landlord can choose to carry this out himself as long as he is confident with the procedure and correct preparation of a check out report.

The check out report will detail any damages or deterioration to the property (excluding fair and reasonable wear and tear) and, together with the Inventory and Schedule of Condition, it is essential for making a dilapidations claim again a tenant's security deposit.  If a check out report is not prepared correctly it can negate a Landlord's ability to make a claim should a case go to Arbitration under the relevant Deposit Scheme.


Tenancy Deposits



  1. Application

These terms of business and our engagement letter set out the basis upon which we shall provide you with services.  In the event of any conflict between these terms of business and out engagement letter, the terms of the engagement letter shall prevail.

  1. Interpretation

In these terms:-

“the firm” “we” “our” and “us”                 mean Sophie Yates & Associates

“you” and “your”                                               means the Client

“engagement letter”                                    means our letter or other communication to you setting out the basis on which we shall carry out the particular matter for you

  1. Fees

            We will charge a Time Charge Fee for work carried out for you unless, in advance of carrying out the work, we have specified in writing to you that a commission or some other fee will be charged.

            In these Terms of Business a “Time Charge Fee” means that the hourly charging rate of the employee involved multiplied y the number of hours spent by that person on the work in question.  You may at any time request details of the relevant charging rates applicable to the work we are doing.

            Where for any reason the work is not completed or instructions are withdrawn you will pay to us a Time Charge Fee for time spent by us on the work up to the time when work ceased.

  1. If a party introduced by Sophie Yates & Associates subsequently purchases the property that has been let  a fee of 1.0% of the purchase price will be payable upon completion.


Fee summary

 Sophie Yates & Associates would welcome the opportunity to discuss our fees on an individual basis because we understand there is not always a one-size-fits-all.


Managed fee for finding a tenant - the first months’ rent

(1) Management fee 10% of the monthly rent

(2) Re-let charge - one month's rent

(3) Renewal charge if let to the same tenant £250

(4) £30 per visit if a managed property is empty and in between lettings but no charge for viewings

 Let only Fee for finding tenant -  the first month's rent

(1) Re-let charge the first month's rent

(2) Renewal charge £250 Inventory charge From £90

(3) Check out fee (optional) £210

(4) Deposit holding charge (optional) £50.00 for the first year and £30 per annum thereafter

(5) minimum fee £550

(6) Inventory prices vary depending on the size of the property.

Invoices and payment

All invoices are due for immediate payment upon delivery.  In the event that any invoice has not been paid in full by you within 14 days of delivery we may charge interest on the unpaid amount at the rate of four per cent above Barclays Bank plc base rate from time to time from the date of delivery.  Such interest shall be compounded every six months from the date of delivery of the invoice.  In most cases the first month’s rent collected will be used as part payment of any invoice with the balance being payable within 14 days.

            Please notify us whenever you send funds to us and the purpose for which they are being sent.  If funds are sent in a currency other than sterling they shall be converted into sterling unless you notify us in advance that they are not to be converted.  Any exchange risk and bank charges (including any levied by our bankers) will be yours.

  1. Expenses

            Unless otherwise agreed in writing by us and you, all travel and our-of-pocket expenses incurred by us in the performance of work for you are repayable by you to us in addition to fees or commission charged by us. 

            We may invoice you for repayment of out-of-pocket expenses at any time after they have been incurred by us.

  1. Performance of Services

            We shall use reasonable skill and care in providing services to you and unless a specific timescale is agreed we shall provide the services to you in a reasonable time.  Unless any specific method of providing services to you has been agreed between you and us, we will provide services to you in such manner as we consider being appropriate.

            We may sub-contract any incidental part or parts of any services to be supplied to you, such as the preparation of plans, photography, advertising or courier services.  With the exception of such incidental tasks, we will not sub-contract any part of their services to be performed for you without your express prior consent.

            We will be entitled to determine the location at which the services to be supplied to you will be supplied and will be entitled to determine that different individuals within our organisation based in different locations should supply different parts of the services for you.

  1. Scope of Services

            We will not be responsible to you for the work of any other professional advisor or contractor from whom you might seek to obtain goods or services whether or not instructed by us on your behalf.

  1. Advice

            We will not accept any liability for any valuation given orally and not confirmed in a formal written report which state the basis and purpose of the valuation, the assumptions on which it is based and any limitations as to the matters which it takes into account.   You agree that you will not rely on any valuation or survey given orally unless and until it is so confirmed in writing.

            If we give you any other advice orally and you wish to rely on it for any purpose you must first ask for and receive that advice from us in writing before relying on it.

            We will not be under any obligation to update any advice, report or valuation to take account of events occurring or information received after the advice, report or valuation has been delivered in final written form.

            If we express an opinion or make a forecast concerning future events you agree that we shall only be liable for the loss that was caused y our failure to exercise reasonable skill and care when giving that opinion or making that forecast..

  1. Client’s Commitments

            You will pay us fees and/or commission as expressly agreed or as specified in these Terms of Business.

  1. Use of Email

Unless you request us not to do so you agreed that we may communicate with you and others in connection with your work by email to any email address provided to us for that purpose.  In doing so you acknowledge and accept the risks inherent in this form of communication particularly of its unauthorised interception and of its not reaching the intended recipient.  Please notify us in writing if you do not consent to the use of email.

  1. Confidentiality and Third Party Rights

            We will not disclose to any third party other than your other professional advisors and consultants any confidential information we obtain concerning you or  your affairs unless we are obliged to disclose such information by law or by the requirement of any regulatory body to which we are subject.  This duty of confidentiality shall not apply to any information which enters the public domain or which to disclose to our professional indemnity insurers or adviser and is subject to the limitation in relation to money laundering compliance contained in our engagement letter.

            We will accept no liability to any third party to whom or which you may disclose our advice or purport to transfer the benefit of any services supplied by us or to whom or which you may show any document, drawing, plan, model or report produced by us for you.

  1. Exclusions and Limitations of Liability

            Nothing in this clause shall operate so as to exclude or limit either party’s liability for death or personal injury resulting from its negligence.

            We shall not be liable for any damage or loss suffered by you.

  1. Complaints Procedure

Sophie Yates & Associates has a Complains Procedure approved by the RICS and this is available upon request.

  1. Tenants’ Deposits

            Where a tenant’s deposit is held by Sophie Yates & Associates, it will be held in the Sophie Yates & Associates Client Deposit Account at HSBC, Colchester, Essex and there will be no interest paid on the Deposit.

16.      Commencement of Marketing

             Sophie Yates & Associates requires acceptance of these terms before marketing can commence.  If a tenant is introduced and accepted by the Landlord in the meant time then these terms and the terms set out in the accompanying Instruction Letter will apply.





Sophie Yates