Guide to renting property
How much do I need to budget in addition to the rental payments?
To reserve a property you will be asked for a reservation fee of 1 weeks rent. This is to guarantee (subject to satisfactory references) that the property is secured for you whilst agreements are drawn up. The reservation fee is deducted from the total deposit taken with the first month’s rental.
As a general guide, the renting deposit is 6 weeks rental monies and is taken along with the first month’s rental. All costs will be detailed to you on a statement if you rent via a professional letting agent such as Oliver Burn.
Your letting agent will usually charge an administration fee for preparing agreements. If you change your mind about renting a property after it has been reserved you may be charged a cancellation fee.
Who pays for utilities – are these included in the rent?
Normally the tenant takes over all of the utilities including water and council tax, which are not included in the rent.
What is a letting agent's role for the tenant?
The agent is employed by the Landlord so the agent will act in their best interests. However professional letting agents will abide by best practice rules that work for both landlord and tenant. Using a professional letting agent, such as Oliver Burn, ensures that you sign a property AST agreement that clearly sets responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant. To find out more about the letting agents’ role, continue reading our guide to renting.
Who do I deal with - the letting agent or landlord?
The letting agent will deal with the property viewings, references, agreements and getting you moved in to your rented property. From that point onwards, your point of contact depends on whether the Landlord pays the agent to ‘manage’ their property. If the property is ‘managed’ the tenant will normally report any repairs or queries to the letting agent, otherwise the tenant and landlord must liaise directly with each other.
Who should arrange and pay for repairs at the property?
The landlord should arrange any repairs including appliances. However tenants are responsible for breakages which would normally be deducted from the deposit unless otherwise agreed. A tenant should report repairs and breakages as soon as they occur.
What privacy am I entitled to – when should I expect visits from the landlord or agent?
A tenant’s privacy is respected by gaining prior agreement to inspect a property during the tenancy. As a general guide, whilst you are renting, the letting agent or landlord will visit the property at least twice. This subject is normally addressed in the tenancy agreement.
How long does a rental tenancy last?
Most rental tenancies are for 12, 18 or 24 months. Where the Landlord has instructed or accepted a break-clause, this normally provides a right for either the Landlord and/or the Tenant to terminate the Agreement 6 months prior to the end of the tenancy - but with 2 months notice period (thus terminating the tenancy 4 months prior to the natural expiry of the tenancy). This notice has to be served in writing by the party giving notice.
What type of rental agreement is used - can I change or add to it?
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is used for the majority of residential tenancies. This is normally a standard contract between Landlord and Tenant. Any special requirements, such an extra item the landlord agrees to supply e.g. a bed or variations to the standard tenancy agreement should be listed in a Rider document and attached to the Tenancy agreement - otherwise requirements are not guaranteed. This does not apply to items which are required by statute or properly arise after occupation.
Can I rent a room to a flatmate or flatshare?
As any guide to renting will explain, the names of all of the occupiers must be declared on the Assured Shorthold Agreement (AST). If a tenant sublets to a flatmate or flatshare which is not detailed on the AST, they will be breaking the terms of the agreement. Where several people are sharing a property the tenants are ‘jointly and severally’ responsible, and as such as listed on the AST. This expression means that each tenant is liable to for any breach of agreement and to pay all of the rent.
Can I stop paying rent if repairs are delayed?
You should not withhold rental payments for whatever reason because you would be in breach of the tenancy agreement, for which the Landlord could take you to court. Discuss any concerns with the letting agent (if they are managing the property). To avoid ambiguity, many letting agents ask tenants to report any requirement for repairs in writing. If the landlord is managing their own property, then it may be worth taking advice from a solicitor if any important repair is not dealt with. Letting Agents often hold a small deposit from the landlord for minor repairs that crop up during the tenancy, but they may still have to seek their permission.
If I want to leave the property can I give notice at any time during the tenancy?
If you leave earlier than the agreed end of tenancy date you will be liable to pay the rent until the end of the tenancy. However, when drawing up agreements you may be able to negotiate a break clause entitling you to give notice 6 months prior to the end of the tenancy. This would mean that you would be liable for the rent for the notice period of 2 months, releasing you from the last 4 months of your tenancy.
When do I get my rental deposit returned?
By law landlords must arrange for a Deposit or Custodial Deposit Schemes to hold or insure tenants’ deposits. Many deposits can be returned on the last day of the tenancy, and must be returned within a maximum of 10 days if there is no dispute.
After the property has been inspected at the end of the tenancy the deposit will be returned minus any deductions for damages. Letting agents encourage landlords to make the process as fair as possible by having a professional inventory agent examine the property. A report is prepared at the beginning of the tenancy recording the condition of the property, and then again at the end of the tenancy.
What happens if the landlord won’t return my deposit?
Landlords are required by legislation to pay a tenant’s deposit into a separate custodial or insurance based Deposit Scheme. Either type of scheme protects tenants’ deposit monies. If only part of the deposit is in dispute, then the remainder that is not in dispute must be returned to the tenant within a maximum of 10 days of the tenancy ending. Deposit schemes vary but they all act to protect a tenant’s deposit. The tenant and landlord can jointly or separately apply to the Deposit Scheme to have their case referred at Resolution or in Court. Once a resolution has been reached, the deposit must be returned within a maximum of 10 days.
Does it matter which letting agent I rent through?
A professional agent works to professional standards that work well for both landlords and tenants: a tenant renting via a professional agent can expect that the Landlord will carry out safety checks e.g. gas, electricity and furnishings. The correct tenancy agreement will be used, ensuring that responsibilities are clearly set down and privacy of the tenant is adequate. A professional agent will also have proper procedures for reporting and dealing with repairs - www.arla.co.uk
The renting process explained
Providing reference details for renting
Before we can draw up the Tenancy agreement we will need to take references including a credit check. We have to satisfy the landlord that you are able to pay the rent and have a good character reference. You will need the following reference details for renting:
- Full name, date of birth, nationality
- Your address history for the last 3 years
- Proof of address: bank, credit card or mobile phone statement
- Income/occupation: details of your income sources and employer
- Bank account: details of the bank account to be used to pay the rent
- Credit/debit card: details of the card and statement address
- Your next of kin: details of who to contact in an emergency on your behalf
- Name of previous landlord/managing agent (if any)
- Contact details of someone who can provide a character reference for you
- If you’re a student you will need to provide proof of your student status
In some circumstances we will ask for a Guarantor to underwrite the rent. Typically this is the case when the tenant is a student, is self-employed or has only been employed for a short while. A Guarantor has to be a homeowner, have a clean credit history, and be in employment or in receipt of pensions. Your contact at Oliver Burn will explain more if necessary and make the appropriate arrangements.
Guidance for overseas tenants
Many people from overseas successfully find a property to rent with Oliver Burn. Simply complete as much of the reference detail as possible and we will process your application.
Deposits, fees and rental payments
Deposit with the first rental payment
We take 6 weeks worth of rent as deposit along with your first month’s rental payment. In addition we charge an administration fee of one week’s rent + VAT, whichever is the greater. As complies with the law, your deposit is safeguarded by an independent rental deposit scheme called the Tenancy Deposit scheme.
How to pay the rent
- By Standing Order (our preferred method)
Standing Order dates must be set up for a minimum of 3 days before the rent due date stated in the tenancy agreement. This will allow time for the monies to be first transferred into the Oliver Burn Client Account and then into the Landlord's account.
The Letting Agreement Between Landlord & Tenant
You will be provided with a copy of the contract you sign known as the Tenancy Agreement. Both the tenant and the Landlord are required to sign the Tenancy Agreement. This will form your letting contract. The agreement normally used is called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This entitles the Landlord to possession of the property at the end of the tenancy period. Most rental tenancies are for 12, 18 or 24 months.
Where the Landlord has instructed or accepted a break-clause, this normally provides, under Clause 10 of the Tenancy Agreement, a right for either the Landlord and/or the Tenant to terminate the Agreement after a shorter period, typically 6 month less that the tenancy term - but with 2 months notice period (so 4 months less occupation that the full term in total). This notice has to be served in writing by the party giving notice. Any special requirements, such an extra item the landlord agrees to supply e.g. a bed, or variations to the standard tenancy agreement will be listed in a Rider document and attached to the Tenancy agreement. You should note that the Landlord does not have an obligation to carry out pre-contact promises of furnishings or repairs for renting unless they have been listed on the Rider attached to the Tenancy Agreement. This does not apply to items which are required by statute or properly arise after occupation.
Your contact at Oliver Burn will go through the Tenancy Agreement with you, and provide you with a copy signed by all parties. Generally the points you should note under the Tenancy Agreement are:
- The Tenancy Agreement is between you and the Landlord. Oliver Burn are not a party to the Contract and are not appointed to arbitrate its terms.
- All Tenants have joint and several liability under the Tenancy agreement.
- You are contracted to stay in the property for the duration stated in the Tenancy Agreement. The Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement means that the Landlord has already served formal Notice to you to give up possession on the date stated in the Tenancy Agreement.
- Where a Guarantor has entered into an Agreement, in the event of the Tenant not meeting the obligations under the Agreement, the Guarantor would be liable to accept responsibility.
The arrangement in almost all cases is that the Tenant has to pay gas, electricity, telephone, water and local authority council tax. You should liaise with the Landlord to the obtain details needed to change services into your name. Electricity and telephone services must be applied for at least 4 working days before moving.
Provision of keys
We ask the Landlord to provide a set of keys for each tenant renting the property. Under no circumstances are locks to be changed by the Tenant without prior approval of the Landlord. Tenants must ensure they return all keys to Oliver Burn at the end of the tenancy period, otherwise monies will from the rental deposit money will be kept to pay for replacing any locks.
Oliver Burn sometimes retains a set of keys which may in emergencies be borrowed by the Tenant. A satisfactory means of identification must be shown before keys will be handed over. A minimum deposit of £20 will be required before we can lend you any keys. Where Banham or security keys are involved this deposit will be appropriately increased. We stress that Tenants should return borrowed keys as quickly as possible.
Moving into the rented property
Your contact at Oliver Burn will arrange to for your ‘Check-In’ to the property you are renting. At this stage a report, (an inventory or Check-In Report) will be prepared to record the condition of the property. We ask you to sign this report to clarify that the condition of the property is as recorded. We ask the Landlord to ensure that the property is clean and tidy prior to you moving in. We also ask the Landlord to leave you any instruction or appliance manuals in a binder for your reference
Your safety under gas, furnishing and electrical regulations
The Landlord is obliged to make arrangements to ensure that the property is safe for you whilst renting under gas appliances, furnishings and electrical regulations.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998:
All gas appliances and associated pipe work must by law be maintained in a safe condition and be checked for safety at least every 12 months by a suitably qualified engineer. Before moving into the property, you must be handed a copy of the last record of inspection. Also, a record of these checks should be in the property. Similarly, instructions for these appliances should be in the property. If you feel that these conditions are not being complied with tell your Landlord immediately.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations:
Amongst other matters this Act requires that all furniture must have a label clearly showing that it is fire resistant. Any new or additional furniture being put into the property must also comply with these regulations.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994: Electrical appliances must be checked before you move in to the property. Safety regulations fact sheets can be viewed at http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-factsheets/factsheets/
Contact During the Tenancy
Unless your rented property is ‘Managed’ by Oliver Burn you will deal directly with the landlord after you move in. Your property consultant at Oliver Burn will be able to advise you on this point.
If you need repairs whilst renting (‘Managed’ property only)
You should report a repair to your Property Manager via email or telephone.
Normally we have authority from the Landlord to carry out repairs up to £250. However, some landlords insist we obtain their authority prior to arranging repairs. We appreciate that you want the property to be in working order and try to arrange repairs as soon as possible. Before we can go ahead we may have to gain a quote for the works from the contract repairer and then seek the Landlord’s approval.
Visual inspections (‘Managed’ property only)
During the course of the tenancy, every four months, we may inspect the premises you are renting to verify that the terms of the Tenancy Agreement are being complied with. We will write or telephone to you to make arrangements for an inspection date. Provisions for these arrangements are included in the Tenancy Agreement.
Renewing your tenancy or moving out
Two months before the end of the tenancy, we contact you to see if you would like to renew your tenancy. If you wish to stay on in the property we seek approval from the Landlord and make any necessary arrangements. If the Landlord does not wish to renew the tenancy we can start looking for an alternative property to rent if you wish. Please appreciate that if you are not staying in the property we may wish to show it to other prospective Tenants during your notice period.
Return of your rental deposit
At the commencement of the Tenancy you would normally have been checked in and an inventory or Check-In Report outlining the condition of the property. At the end of your Tenancy, a similar Check-out Report is compiled and this is where the condition and cleanliness of the property is checked and reported back to the Landlord. Normally this document is referred to by the Landlord in deciding what deductions for repairs, if any, need to be made from your deposit. Oliver Burn cannot be involved in any decision over return of deposit - this is between the Tenant and the Landlord. You can liaise with the Landlord about return of deposit, after the inventory or our Check-Out report has been done. A copy of this report will be sent to you for your reference.
Protection of deposits for tenants
Landlords are required by legislation to pay a tenant’s deposit into a separate custodial or insurance based Deposit Scheme. Either type of scheme will protect a tenant’s deposit money. If only part of the deposit is in dispute, then the remainder that is not in dispute must be returned to the tenant within a maximum of 10 days of the tenancy ending. The tenant and landlord can jointly or separately apply to the Deposit Scheme to have their case referred to Resolution or Court. Once a resolution has been reached, the deposit must be returned within a maximum of 10 days.
This information was correct at the time of publication but is subject to change periodically. Advice can vary between agents so please contact us if you require further information or clarification.