Tenants - Frequently asked questions
- How do I rent a home?
- What information will I need to provide?
- How much will it cost me?
- How quickly can I move?
- What happens if the agreement falls through?
- Who will manage my property?
- What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and what obligations does it place on me and my Landlord?
- What are the landord's responsibilities?
- What are the tenants's responsibilities?
How do I rent a home?
The simplest ways to get onto our lists is to telephone the office (01395 269955) or to call in to leave your details. We will ask you what type of property you are looking for, when you want to move, how many of you are moving in, and what your budget is. You can contact us by e-mail, however, please provide a telephone contact number so that we can get details of your requirements. We will keep your details for about 8 weeks – if you wish to remain on the lists for longer term, you need to contact us and ask us to update your form.
If you are renting your current home you need to check what notice you need to give your Landlord. This is usually a month, but notice often has to be given on a rent day and cannot take effect before the end of the fixed term of your agreement.
We will try to telephone you when a suitable property becomes available, however as we have a very high number of people on our lists, you are more likely to be successful if you telephone or call the office regularly to remind us of your requirements
What information will I need to provide?
When you have seen a property you wish to rent, we will ask you to provide us with the following for EVERYONE who will live in the property and is over the age of 18.
- Proof of identity – something with your name and photo on, such as a passport, driving license or work security pass.
- Your addresses for the last 3 years.
- Your agreement that we can carry out a credit check on you.
- Names and addresses of people we can contact for references on you – usually
- a character referee (this should be somebody who has known you for more than 2 years and is NOT a relation)
- An employment referee – someone who can confirm where you work and whether your income will fund the rent.
- A current landlord (if applicable) and
- If you are self employed - an accountant.
We often house people whose backgrounds or situations are not-standard (such as pensioners, those coming from overseas, the newly self-employed etc). If your circumstances are unusual, please let us know at an early stage and we will try to assist. If you are not working we may ask for someone else to act as guarantor on your tenancy. It is very important that this person understands that they will have to sign the tenancy agreement and become jointly responsible for paying the rent and looking after the property – they will also have to provide us with referees.
How much will it cost me?
We make no charge until you have agreed to take a property. You will then be asked for a tenant fee and a holding deposit (this is half the deposit and is usually £50 more than half a month’s rent). Once we have received these payments, we will not show the property to anyone else. The fees are as follows
Each additional tenant or guarantor – an extra £100 Inc VAT
How quickly can I move?
Usually it takes a minimum of two weeks to process the rents, check the property, conduct the inventory and draw up the agreement. We will not allow you to have the keys to the property until all the references are in, and you have signed the tenancy agreement. You will also need to pay the other half of the deposit and the first month’s rent. This money needs to have cleared into our account, so you need to pay it at least 4 days before you move in or bring a banker's draft or pay by switch card on the day you collect the keys.
What happens if the agreement falls through?
If either party pulls out of the agreement within a day or two of your viewing, we will usually refund your holding deposit and tenant fee in full.
If the Landlord pulls out, through no fault on your part, you will receive your holding deposit back. If we have done the reference checks, we will retain your tenant fee, but will also hold your references and try to find you somewhere else to live. If you find another property through another agent or Landlord we will forward your references to them if you request this in writing.
If you pull out of the agreement within 28 days of the date the tenancy should start, we reserve the right to keep some or all of your holding deposit to pay to the Landlord in lieu of lost rent.
Who will manage my property?
Some properties are managed by us, as agent for the landlord. This means that you pay rent to us and contact us if you have any queries or problems. We will visit you in your home every 3-6 months to check everything is OK with the property and to help with any queries you may have regarding your tenancy. We will hold your deposit in a bonded account and check the inventory when you leave.
Other properties are managed directly by the landlord (an arrangement only tenancy). In these cases you will be asked to pay rent directly to your Landlord and will have their contact details in the case of query or problem. We usually hold your deposit, and we will check the inventory if we are re-letting the property at the end of your tenancy. Sometimes your landlord with do the inventory check, and we need to consult them before we can return your deposit.
If you are in a property managed by the Landlord, and have any serious problems or dispute, or cannot contact your Landlord, you may contact us in the office and we will try to help.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and what obligations does it place on me and my landlord?
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) is a legal document detailing the agreement between Landlord and tenant in renting a property. Almost all tenancies are taken under an AST although they cannot be used where
- Your accommodation forms part of the property where your landlord lives
- The property you are renting is not your only home
- The tenancy is a company let
- The rent is more than £25,000 per year.
- The tenancy is longer than 36 months.
An AST is based upon common sense – most tenants want to have a home which is well maintained and safe and also want to know how long they can remain in the property. Most landlords want to receive regular rent payments and have the property back in a condition where it can be re-let as quickly as possible.
The agreement will state
- the names and addresses of the landlord and tenant
- the address of the property
- the date of the agreement and how long it lasts
- the rent and how often it must be paid
- the deposit and how it will be held
- the obligations of both parties and
- what will happen if either party does not comply with the terms
We use an agreement which is straightforward – if there is anything you don’t understand, or you have trouble with your sight or with written English please let us know and we will happily read the agreement with you.
In summary the agreement will allow you to live in the property for the fixed term (usually six or twelve months) and if you look after the property and pay the rent on time nobody can make you leave during this period.
You agree to pay the full rent on the right dates.
You agree to look after the property and leave it in the same condition as you found it (we make an allowance for reasonable wear and tear)
Only the adults and children named on the tenancy agreement can live in the property – you cannot sub let the property or any part of it or pass on the tenancy agreement to anybody else.
The landlord or agent is not allowed to come into the property without giving you at least 24 hours notice – UNLESS there is a serious risk to life or the structure of the property (this is rare - for example a gas leak, water leak, excessive storm damage or if we believe that someone is lying injured or dead in the property).
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE AGREEMENT IS BETWEEN TENANT AND LANDLORD – THERE IS NO CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN TENANT AND AGENT AND THE AGENT IS NOT IN A POSITION TO TAKE INSTRUCTION OR ORDERS FROM THE TENANT.
Obviously each agreement will vary slightly to reflect the details of the property – for example it may state where you can park, or whether you can have pets, or install a Sky dish etc However the following is a useful guideline
The Landlord(s) must
- Maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition for the duration of the tenancy.
- Insure the building.
- Maintain the windows, doors, floors, drains, lighting installations, heating (if any) and any cooking appliance in the property.
- Decorate the property appropriately both internally and externally (usually every 5-7 years). Very often a Landlord will agree to a tenant’s request to redecorate within agreed colour and style guidelines, and may agree to share the cost.
- Ensure the electrical wiring and installations are safe. At present there is no legal requirement for the electrical installations to be checked and certified, although this situation may change later in 2006 when the 2004 Housing Act becomes law.
- Provide a landlord’s gas safety certificate for all gas appliances every year and provide each adult tenant with a copy of the certificate.
The Tenant and their responsibilities
The Tenant must
- Pay the full rent at the times and in the manner agreed
- Provide a deposit to be held against any damage caused during the tenancy
- Be responsible for paying for the utilities for the property (unless specifically stated otherwise on the AST)
- Care for the property during the tenancy and return it at the end of the tenancy in the same condition as at the start (with some allowance for reasonable wear and tear).
- Maintain any garden in a tidy and weed-free condition (unless stated otherwise in the AST)
- Repair any damage caused by them or their visitors.
- Report any defect or fault as soon as possible.