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A Guide for Landlords

ESTABLISHING YOUR PROPERTY'S VALUE
Whilst a general picture of your local marketplace can be gleaned through local newspaper advertisements and website property-portals, to establish an accurate rental value for your property we would need to visit the property. Once we have seen the property we will be able to advise you on the value range applicable and anything we think you can do to enhance this value.

SELECTING A LETTINGS AGENT
At Groves Residential the initial rental valuation of your property is free. You only pay commission when we successfully let your property and you'll always have access to a professional and personal service.

At Groves Residential you have a choice of three types of Service, Letting Only, Letting and Rent Collection or Full Management. If you would like further information on any of these services do contact us on 020 8949 0094 or click here for our Terms and Conditions.

PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY
Tenants want value for money however they are usually prepared to pay more for a property in first-class order. Additionally, the property will usually let more easily and tenants are also more inclined to treat such a property with respect. The following features can appeal to potential tenants:

  • Fresh decorations - light colours, such as white or off-white, are always acceptable.
  • Good quality carpets of the same colour throughout. These should be light and neutral - biscuit/beige/light grey colours are popular, as are wooden floors.
  • Plain and simple lined curtains or blinds.
  • Well-maintained exterior and tidy, easily maintained gardens.

FURNISHED OR UNFURNISHED
There's often no difference between the rental achieved for a property whether it is furnished or unfurnished.

  • 'Unfurnished 'is normally defined as being fully carpeted (or with wooden floors), fully curtained and with white goods provided in the kitchen.
  • 'Furnished' is usually defined as being a property ready for someone to move into. The furniture needs to be good quality and the property should be uncluttered. We're more than happy to advise you on what should be left and what should be removed. (All ornaments and personal effects should be removed).

FIXTURES & FITTINGS
All fixtures and appliances should be serviced before the start of the tenancy and in good working order. If you have instruction booklets, make them available or write out clear instructions for use. (A tenant cannot be expected to look after the equipment well if they do not have instructions on how to operate it – this is especially so when it comes to Boilers and hot water). Ideally your property should offer:

  • A modern and well-equipped kitchen. Ideally there should be a washing machine and separate dryer (or combined machine to save space), dishwasher, large fridge/freezer and microwave.
  • A modern bathroom with an effective shower, modern fittings and good lighting. Tiled floors are preferable to carpets.
  • Good wardrobe space in the bedrooms.
  • An efficient central heating system and plenty of hot water.

GARDENS
Gardens should be left neat and tidy and free of rubbish. The tenants are responsible for maintaining the garden to a reasonable standard, provided they are left with the necessary equipment to do so. Most tenants will not be experienced gardeners and you may prefer to arrange for a gardener to visit on a regular basis to keep everything, seasonally, in order.

CLEANING
At the start of the tenancy the property must have been thoroughly cleaned and at the end of the tenancy it is the tenants’ responsibility to leave the property in the same cleaned condition they took it in at the commencement of the tenancy. We recommend having the property professionally cleaned.

KEYS
It will be necessary to provide one full set of front door keys to each tenant. We will also require one set of keys if we are managing the property.

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

MORTGAGE
If you have a mortgage on the property you should obtain written consent from your mortgage lender. They may require additional clauses within the tenancy agreement which we must be made aware of.

LEASEHOLDERS
If you are a leaseholder, you may need to obtain written consent from your freeholder or head leaseholder prior to letting. In addition there may be clauses within a sub-lease which may need to be added to the Tenancy Agreement.

INSURANCE
You'll need to make sure both the property and its contents are fully insured. You must inform your insurance company that the property is to be let, check that the conditions of the policy are complied with and that there are no restrictions on letting. We can give you details of companies who specialise in Buildings and Contents Insurance for Landlords.

COUNCIL TAX AND UTILITIES BILLS
We will arrange for the transfer of council tax and utility accounts to the tenant. Meter readings will be taken, allowing your closing gas and electricity accounts to be dealt with. With regards to British Telecom it will be necessary for both parties to contact them directly to change the account over.

BILLS AND OUTGOINGS
If you are a leaseholder we recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings such as maintenance or service charges, to be paid by standing order or direct debit, however where we are managing the property, we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided that such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit.

INCOME TAX
It is entirely the Landlords responsibility if they are living in the UK, to inform the Revenue and Customs of Rental Income received and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is non- resident during a tenancy, they will require an exemption certificate from HMRC before they can receive rental payments without deduction of tax. Where we are managing the property, we will provide advice and assistance on these matters.

INVENTORY
It is most important that an Inventory of the Contents and Schedule of Condition be prepared, prior to the occupancy of the property, in order to avoid misunderstanding or disputes at the end of the tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the Landlord to prove any loss or damage or significant deterioration of the property or contents. Although we do not carry out this service ourselves, we will arrange for an Independent Inventory Company to compile the Inventory and Check the tenant in. We use a specialist firm of Inventory clerks and we cannot accept any liability for their omissions or errors.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS (INCLUDING HEALTH AND SAFETY)
The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner i.e. the Landlord. When we are managing the property they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will ensure compliance, any costs of which will be the responsibility of the Landlord.

GAS
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliance s and flues in rented accommodation must be check for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent engineer (i.e. a GAS SAFE registered gas installer).

Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, stating any defects found and of any remedial action taken.

A copy of the Safety Certificates issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.

ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATES
To comply with EU and UK law, all properties being let in England and Wales from the 1st October 2008, will require an Energy Performance Certificate. An EPC is used to clarify the energy efficiency of buildings and is compulsory for all properties on the rental market. The certificate provides rating for the building being advertised for let. It uses ratings; “A” to “G”, with “A” being the most energy efficient and “G” being the least energy efficient.

FIRE
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) regulations 1988(amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting properties must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa beds, futons, and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillow cases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached.

Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.

ELECTRICAL
There are many regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect Landlords and their Agents. Although with tenanted property there is currently no legal requirement for an electrical safety certificate (except in the cases of HMOs and portable appliances) it is widely accepted in the lettings industry that the only safe way to ensure safety and fulfil your duty of care is to arrange an electrical inspection by a competent electrician. A guide on electrical safety, produced by ARLA, can be found at http://www.arla.co.uk/media/60323/ESC-landlordsGuide.pdf

SMOKE ALARMS
From 1st October 2015 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 requires private sector landlords to have:

• At least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties – even where only a bathroom is located
• A carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a wood burning stove, a coal fire, an open fire place or where biomass is used as fuel)

The landlord needs to test the alarms to ensure they are working on the start date of each new tenancy. After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order. Testing monthly is generally considered an appropriate frequency for smoke alarms. If tenants find that their alarm(s) are not in working order during the tenancy, they are advised to arrange the replacement of the batteries or the alarm itself with either their landlord or Groves Residential.

TENANTS DEPOSIT PROTECTIONS SCHEMES
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and lettings agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. Landlords and Letting Agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme will be supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR).

TENANTS REFERENCES
Once we have a prospective tenant, a holding deposit is taken in order to establish a level of commitment. We engage an independent licensed credit reference agency, to take references on the prospective tenant. These cover employment, computerised credit checks, bank reference, and previous Landlord or character references. We are happy to show you these references if you would like to see them.

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