A guide for tenants

Introduction

Properties under management owned by a private landlord are, in the large majority of cases, either the landlord's own private residence or have been purchased specifically as an investment for the rental market.  Private landlords are generally seeking tenants for anything from a period of 6 months to several years, at the end of which they either return to occupy their home or place their property on the market.  Investment landlords are hoping to achieve continuous tenanting of their properties, either with a succession of shorter tenancies or one long period of occupation.

In each case, the owner/landlord has instructed us to act on their behalf in their absence and to seek suitable tenants who will enjoy a mutually satisfactory occupancy of their property.

We would take this opportunity, therefore, of providing you with guidance notes relating to a proposed tenancy.

Getting started

Having viewed the property and arrived at a decision to make an application to rent we require all applicants to complete a referencing form, which will then be processed to verify the information provided. The cost of application and referencing for a property is £150.00 inc. VAT for a single application and must be paid at the time of application (the cost of a joint application is £200.00 inc. VAT and for each additional tenant or guarantor will be £50.00 inc. VAT)

The submission of the referencing application is no guarantee of tenancy.  A final decision as to whether or not a tenancy can proceed will depend on responses received and will be made in consultation with the landlord.

You will be required to provide personal details ranging from name and address to occupation and salary.  You will be asked to provide financial, employer and character references as we can only agree to a tenancy subject to satisfactory replies from those referees.  Our investigations will also include a search of the credit registers to establish your financial credibility and contacting your previous landlord / agent if you were previously a tenant.  These are routine procedures taken to protect all parties.

Should you have County Court Judgements registered against you it may prove impossible to grant you a tenancy, unless satisfactory evidence of the clearance of debt is produced prior to the commencement of the tenancy.

Should you be unable to provide satisfactory references or credit checks you may still be offered a tenancy subject to a satisfactory guarantor being provided. The guarantor will need to provide satisfactory references and credit checks and will be expected to sign a form to guarantee your legal commitments in the tenancy, including payment of rent.

Given satisfactory replies to enquiries you will be offered the tenancy of the property, subject only to the terms of the tenancy agreement, the payment of the deposit, the agreed advanced rent and the landlord’s agreement that the tenancy can proceed.

IDENTIFICATION  To support your application you will need to provide two forms of identification.  These could be a birth certificate, full driving licence, full 10 year passport or new style national insurance card.

Deposits and rent

A security deposit is required for all tenancies and is equal to One Month's Rent plus £100 unless a different amount is agreed with the landlord. This deposit is in addition to the advanced rent payment required.

Your deposit will be held in the Deposit Protection Service Scheme (DPS) unless your landlord chooses to use an alternative government approved scheme. Details of the specific scheme for your property will be provided to you prior to your tenancy commencing.

Should rent and deposit be paid by cheque we must have at least 7 banking days to allow for clearance. Alternatively you may pay by cash or a banker’s draft, if that facility is available.

The deposit acts as security for the performance of your obligations as a tenant under the tenancy agreement.  This deposit will be returned to you at the end of the tenancy term without interest and subject to a deduction for damage or any other deductions that may be necessary to compensate the landlord for any breach of the tenancy agreement.

The same security deposit is required from Housing Benefit Tenants.  Should the property be covered by the Bond Board and you wish to apply for a Bond, we MUST have confirmation, in writing, that this has been agreed before the tenancy can commence.

Deductions from the deposit

Should we need to replace items on the inventory or clean the house at the end of the tenancy, or if there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement, the return of your deposit will be delayed until all items are valued and replaced / cleaned.  In any case we will aim to return your deposit within 28 working days.

Damage and breakage of the landlord's fixtures, fittings and effects, lost inventory items etc, which occur during the period of the tenancy will incur deductions from your deposit.  It is important, therefore, that you look after the property during the tenancy and take the utmost care to inspect the property and its fixtures and fittings at the outset.  An inventory / statement of condition will be prepared prior to occupation and must be agreed by you at the outset.

This inventory / statement of condition will then form the basis of assessment of the property's condition at the end of the tenancy term.  Fair wear and tear will obviously be taken into consideration.  Damages that occur will be charged to your account, as will invoices from contractors employed to undertake necessary repairs or replace any items.

Please note, if you have not paid your £50.00 inc. VAT check out fee this will be deducted from your deposit. More information on the check out fee can be found in your tenancy agreement. Please note that this charge is per property and not per person.

Payment of utilities / council tax / other charges

You are responsible for the payment of all utilities (gas, electricity etc) during the tenancy and for the payment of final bills.

You are required by law to inform the Council Tax Registrar of your change of address and pay the appropriate council tax.

Once the initial fixed term of your contract is over you may choose to sign a new AST. There is a £60.00 inc. VAT admin charge for this. Please note that this charge is per property per person. 

If one tenant moves out of a shared house at the end of a fixed term and another tenant moves in there will be a charge of £120.00 inc. VAT for this change of sharer which covers the administration involved in the change of contract and does not cover any referencing costs. This change of tenant is ultimitely down to the discretion of the landlord. Please note that this charge is per contract and not per tenant.

Legal notices & tenancy agreement

Before you sign for a tenancy you will be given a copy of the tenancy agreement and any appropriate notices.  Read these carefully and ask us questions if you are unsure of any point.

During the tenancy term you have the right to enjoy the property without interruption provided that you abide by the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement.  However, as a tenant you have an obligation under your contract with the landlord, to allow inspections of the property at regular intervals.  We endevour to do this at periodic intervals throughout the tenancy. We will contact you to make a mutually convenient arrangement prior to such an appointment. 

Inspections

Inspection of the premises is primarily undertaken to ensure that you, as the tenant, are in all respects observing the conditions of the tenancy agreement, though this is not the only consideration of management.  It further allows the opportunity for you to discuss with us any problem that might be experienced relating to the property and for us to consider repairs/decorations etc before they become a major concern.  If, however, you experience any problems of maintenance or repair please notify us immediately in order that appropriate action can be taken.  We have a number of trade’s people available to ensure that delays are minimised.

Stamp duty

For exceptionally high rental values, under the Stamp Act 1891, there may be a liability on the tenant to have the agreement stamped.  In these cases, the tenant is advised to seek independent advice.

Rent

Rent should be paid to us by the due date each month.  The method of payment is by standing order only, which should be set up 3 days in advance of the due date to allow for clearance through the banking system.

Where there are a number of occupiers sharing accommodation each person is jointly and severally liable to pay the rent as tenant and will pay the rent as a whole.  Each tenant is jointly and severally responsible for the whole rent so that they are equally liable for the non-payment of rent by one of their co-tenants, should they fail to pay.

End of term

Preparations should be made to hand the property back to us on the due date.  Arrange readings of meters and ensure that the authorities have your forwarding address for the payment of all invoices raised.  In no circumstances should you allow the authorities to disconnect supplies.  The authorities should be informed that the managing agent will contact them when the property is handed over and provide details of the new account holder.  This may be the owner or a new tenant.

Inventory items should be placed in their respective rooms to facilitate easy checking on handing over.  Read carefully the inventory/statement of condition, clean curtains, carpets etc if required and generally prepare the property for that final inspection. Liaise with us and arrange a convenient time for handing over the premises.  We can advise of local trades people who will carry out all cleaning/preparation at a most competitive rate.

Once checking has been completed and deductions from your deposit agreed (if any), the deposit or balance of deposit will be returned to you as per the deposit scheme rules.

Summary

These notes are intended to provide only a summary to assist you to understand the obligations undertaken when you wish to rent a property from a private landlord.  It is not the intention to give an authoritative interpretation of the law. We hope that you have found them useful and look forward to helping you find your perfect property.

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