A renter’s guide – advice for tenants

This tenant guide will provide you with the advice and information you need to secure the right property with A Wilson Estates Ltd, deal with Tenancy Agreements and Inventories and understand your rights and obligations as a tenant, whether you’re looking at studio apartments, flats or houses.

After viewing one of our properties, you should begin by putting down a holding deposit in order to state your intention to rent the property.  This will reserve the property for up to 15 days in order for the referencing to commence and administrative process to begin.

Your prospective new landlord will be keen to make sure that you are a suitable tenant and that you have the ability to pay your rent, while also making sure that you have rented a property without any major problems in the past (if this is applicable).  We will contact your current Landlord and Employer to confirm the details you have provided on your application.

Some, or all, of the following documents may be requested:-

  • References from previous landlords – you may be asked to give the details of where you have lived within the last 3 years
  • A credit check –  to see if you have a good history of paying your bills
  • Your bank details – including bank name, account number and sort-code
  • Details of your employment – your employer, job title, payroll number, salary etc.
  • Two forms of identification, one must be photographic (passport/driving licence) and one with your current address (utility bill/council tax bill)

In the event that the information highlights any potential of risk to the landlord, you may be asked to provide a guarantor. A guarantor will be contractually liable, both financially and legally, should you fail to pay the rent during your tenancy or in the event of damage to the property.

The tenancy agreement is a contract between you and the landlord. It specifies certain rights to both you and the landlord, such as your right to live in the home for the agreed term and your landlord’s right to receive rent for letting the property.Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreemen.

Since the late 90’s, AST has been the most common form of tenancy agreement and sets out the duties of both tenant and landlord. The most important aspect of this agreement is that the landlord has the right to repossess the property at the end of the agreed term. Despite its name, the agreement does not have to be short and can continue as long as both parties are happy to do so. There is no minimum term specified either, although the renter has the right to remain in the property for at least six months.

If the fixed term is for three or more years, however, a deed must be drawn up and a solicitor employed to do so.

There are specific requirements linked to an AST that include:

  • The tenant(s) must be an individual (i.e. not a company)
  • The property must be the main home of the occupant
  • The property must be let as separate accommodation

The landlord is obliged to provide the tenant with two months’ notice if they want to terminate the agreement.

The agreement will most likely contain the following information:

  1. Your name, your landlord’s name and the address of the property which is being let
  2. The date the tenancy will commence
  3. The duration of the tenancy from the start to the agreed finish of the occupation
  4. The amount of rent payable, how often it should be paid, when it should be paid and when it can be legally increased
  5. The agreement should also state what the payments are expected, including Council Tax, utilities, service charges, etc.
  6. What services your landlord will provide, such as maintenance of common areas
  7. The notice period which you and your landlord need to give each other if the tenancy is to be terminated

The responsibilities of both parties are likely to be detailed within your tenancy agreement, although some conditions may vary between properties and landlords.

Once the paper work has been completed, we will then arrange for a move in date.  One of our representatives will meet you at the property to sign your Tenancy Agreement and issue you with relevant documentation.  Upon receiving the keys you will be required to pay any outstanding fees which usually comprise of a months rent upfront plus a months rent as deposit.

Your deposit is usually one months’ rent and is held for the duration of the tenancy. The deposit is a safety net for the landlord to guard against the cost of replacing or repairing property damaged by the renter. It is, however, the single most disputed area of the renting process.

New legislation was introduced to the Housing Act 2004 in April 2007 to help protect all parties with regard to the return of deposits. A brief summary of the legislation can be found below:

Tenancy deposit protection in summary:

  • Landlords will be required to join a statutory tenancy deposit scheme, if they take deposits
  • This will mean that deposits are safeguarded
  • Tenants will get all or part of their deposit back, if they have kept the rental property in good condition and are entitled to get their deposit back
  • The scheme offers alternative ways of resolving disputes which aim to be faster and cheaper than taking court action

Moving out

At the end of your Tenancy you now have two options to consider:

Remember, you need to provide one months’ notice in writing to your landlord or A Wilson Estates, stating you wish to vacate the property.  Providing your landlord is happy with you and the condition of the house or flat, you will be asked whether you wish to renew your Tenancy for another six or twelve months.

As long as the condition of the property is the same as when you moved in (barring normal wear and tear), your deposit will be returned.  Some useful tips would be:

  • Give the property a thorough clean, including carpets, windows, walls and furniture
  • If it’s your responsibility, tidy up the garden and clear away any rubbish
  • Return all of the keys to the landlord
  • Remove all of your personal belongings
  • Be satisfied you’re leaving the property as you found it

You’ll have the opportunity to run through the inventory checklist on the day of departure. It’s important that this job is done before you leave the property to avoid you being accountable for any damage that occurs after you’ve left. If there is any damage, you should agree with the landlord the cost of repairing or replacing such items.

If an agreement cannot be reached as to the damage of particular items, which items have been damaged, or repair costs, then you should make sure you take photographs. Get your own repair cost estimates and write to the landlord with your findings and work towards a mutually agreeable solution.

If both you and the landlord are satisfied the property has been left in an acceptable state and you have made your final rental payment, there should be no problem getting your deposit back.

1.  Late Rental Payments
A default fee may be payable if the rent is at least 14 days late from the rent payable date as set out in the tenancy agreement. The default fee shall be no more than 3% above the Bank of England’s base rate for each day that a payment has been outstanding.

2.  Lost keys or security devices
A default fee may be charged in the event that the tenant loses keys or other security devices for the property they tenant. The default fee shall be payable to the landlord or their agent upon receipt of written evidence, usually in the form of an invoice from the contractor providing the replacement(s). Such fees shall be reasonable, and details will be provided within the tenancy agreement of such a default.

1.  Changes to a tenancy
Should the tenant wish to make a change to the existing tenancy agreement, then a permitted charge of no more than £50 will be payable by the tenant in advance of such change. This change could be for example, being allowed to keep a pet, a change in sharer of a joint tenancy, permission to sublet, although this list is not exhaustive. If you are unsure whether a fee may be payable to make a change, please ensure that you contact the agent.  Should the cost be expected to be more than £50, then we will provide you with a full written explanation of why, along with any supporting documentation to support the higher charge.

2.  Early Termination of a fixed term agreement
Should the tenant request to terminate a fixed term tenancy agreement earlier than the scheduled termination, then the landlord or their agent may request a permitted charge, in order to remedy any loss incurred by either party. This would usually be the landlords or agents costs involved in advertising, referencing, or loss of rent resulting from an early termination. Should a request for early termination be made by the tenant, then such fees will be confirmed in writing, and will be no more than any loss incurred by either the landlord or their agent.

1.  The rent.
2.  A refundable tenancy deposit which will be capped at no more than five weeks rent for annual rents under £50,000 or six weeks rent where the rent is over £50,000 annually.
3.  A refundable holding deposit capped at no more than one weeks rent in order to reserve your chosen property.
4.  Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and Council Tax. Unless these are included with your rent, you will be required to make these permitted payments. If these payments are included with your rent, or are charged separately by your landlord, then they will be governed by the Maximum Resale Price provisions set by OFGEM.

A Wilson Estates Ltd belongs to a Government-authorised Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme – Scheme number C0131855. View certificate