What do I need to pay to move into a rental property?
The only upfront money agents and landlords are allowed to take, as a result of changes to the law introduced on June 1, 2019, are payments for rent and deposits, which are limited to five weeks in all cases where annual rent is below £50,000.
Non-refundable reference fees – which were prevalent in parts of the country, are no longer lawful.
A tenancy deposit (or dilapidations deposit) is usually requested to cover any cleaning or damages that may be needed when you move out.
This deposit should be protected by a deposit protection scheme. At Garness Jones Residential we use the award-winning Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
One month’s rent in advance is usually required to allow the keys to be released so you can move in.
All fees should be discussed and explained upon application.
What happens if someone else applies for the same property as me?
Popular properties can receive multiple applications in a short space of time so it’s important to act as quickly as possible to provide all requested documents and information promptly.
Until new laws were introduced in 2019 agencies were able to charge fees for various aspects linked to applications such as credit checks and references, something which led to many paying fees and still not getting the properties.
We have welcomed changes which have prevented this from happening, but have always been committed to giving those who first show an interest in a property every opportunity to secure it for themselves.
Do I need to pay any agency fees?
Under the latest laws to be imposed as part of the Tenancy Fees Act 2019, ‘agency’ fees have been banned for ALL assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) in England.
All existing tenancies are legally binding according to their current terms and obligations, but the new rules will apply to every AST after 31st May 2020.
What do I need to provide to rent a property?
To meet our required criteria, you will need:
· A positive credit check
· Employment or accountant reference
· Reference from previous landlord (if applicable)
· Proof of ID & your ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK
· Two proofs of your current address
Why do I need to be referenced?
As part of our commitment to landlords, we need to be certain that all tenants are able to afford their rental payments. Referencing is nothing for you to worry about. It’s simply a way to help us determine that a tenant will be responsible and take good care of the property.
What if there are problems with my reference?
In some circumstances, it’s not uncommon for a tenant not to be approved immediately via the referencing process.
Thankfully, there are still options for tenants who find themselves in this position – such as paying the full rent up front or using a guarantor.
What is a guarantor?
A guarantor is the term used for a person who agrees to ‘guarantee’ the tenancy agreement, the rental income and obligations of the tenants.
It is usually a friend or family member, who signs to say that they will be held equally liable for the financial commitments in your Tenancy Agreement contract. They must live in England or Wales and be able to cover your rental commitments in the event of a payment default.
Why might a guarantor be required?
Don’t be concerned if you are asked to choose someone to act as a guarantor, it’s not uncommon.
Some landlords ask for this extra level of security if you have previous credit issues or they’re not satisfied your earnings are enough to cover the rent.
Those who use a guarantor include:
· Students with no regular income
· Someone leaving family home for first time
· People with poor credit history
· Somebody previously declared bankrupt
· A person in temporary employment
· Low income households
If you are asked to provide a guarantor, they would need to undergo and pass the same reference checks as yourself before being accepted.
What is a Tenancy Agreement?
A Tenancy Agreement is a legally-binding contract between the landlord and tenant, detailing the requirements and obligations expected of both parties.
Any terms which have been negotiated must be included in the agreement before it is signed, such as the duration of the tenancy.
At Garness Jones Residential, we believe in 100% transparency and all our agreements clearly state any responsibilities in a fair, clear and balanced way.
Who is responsible for the Tenancy Agreement in UK law?
Unless otherwise agreed, all adult tenants living at a property are ‘jointly and severally liable’ for the terms stipulated in the Tenancy Agreement.
If one person (or more) decide they no longer want to live at the property, the remaining tenant(s) are still liable for all payments and responsibilities in full.
What is a Tenancy Deposit?
Most landlords use a Tenancy Deposit to cover any potential costs which may be incurred during a tenancy. The maximum amount that can be taken is capped at 5 weeks’ rent when annual rent is less than £50,000.
Is my deposit safe?
Under current UK law, a landlord or agent must register your deposit with a Government-approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) within 30 days of receiving your deposit. You can ask for a certificate to prove this has been done – and we’re happy to provide this upon request.
Will I get all my deposit back?
If you leave a property in the same condition as you found it, you’ll usually receive all of your deposit back in full. This should be done no later than 14 days from the end of the tenancy.
In exceptional circumstances, deductions can be made to pay for the cost of professional cleaning or any damage caused - above wear and tear. It can also be used to make up for any rent arrears.
A detailed inventory should be produced at the beginning of a tenancy so it can be used, along with any subsequent inspection reports, to assess whether deductions need to be made from the deposit.
If you disagree with any deductions which are made, it may be possible to negotiate an amicable resolution.
If this is not possible and you’re still unhappy, you have the right to refer the matter to the Tenancy Dispute Service who will adjudicate on the issue independently.
Are children, pets and smoking allowed?
Before signing up to any Tenancy Agreement, it’s important to check if there any rules about children, smoking and pets with your landlord.
You don’t want to end up breaching the terms of your contract – and risk being made homeless - because of a minor oversight!
With regards to pets, it usually depends on the approach of the individual landlord and whether you will be renting a house or apartment, where they are not often not allowed.
What if I cause accidental damage to the property?
Accidents do happen so don’t worry about it! Tell the landlord or letting agent responsible for your property’s maintenance as soon as possible so that any damage can be rectified.
You’ll be expected to pay for the cost of putting things right, but it’s often better than trying to ignore the issue. If you do and the damage gets worse, you may end up having to pay more out of your deposit when your tenancy ends.
Who is responsible for fixing what? And how do I report issues?
Usually, tenants are responsible for minor issues like broken light bulbs or work which will not cause any further damage.
For more serious issues, such as plumbing and electrics, which you cannot repair, you will need to call your landlord or agent.
Garness Jones Residential tenants can call 01482 564564 and we’ll contact your landlord to discuss arranging any work which needs carrying out.
Each response will be based upon the urgency of the repair required. You may be liable for the cost of any issues which have been caused intentionally or arisen because of your negligence.
Can I decorate or make changes to the property?
Never decorate or make any changes to a property without asking the landlord first. Depending on the terms of your Tenancy Agreement, the landlord may request the property is returned to its previous state at the end of your tenancy.
At Garness Jones Residential, we deal with all requests to redecorate by liaising with the landlord on your behalf so that suitable solution can be achieved.
Is my landlord allowed to enter the property?
From time to time, landlords and letting agents may need to access the property to carry out a general property inspection or maintenance. But before doing so, they are required to provide a tenant with 24 hours’ written notice of their visit.
You can refuse access and prevent the landlord or agent from entering. The exception to this rule is in the event of an emergency or a situation where waiting would be negligent to the tenant, landlord or property – such as repairing a large leak.
What is classed as an unfurnished property?
Most rental properties are unfurnished – and are provided only with flooring and a cooker. You will need to provide your own furniture, kitchen appliances and soft furnishings.
Who is responsible for telling the utility companies I’m moving in?
In most cases, it’s your responsibility to notify the utility companies – water, gas and electricity – and ensure your accounts are set up. We always recommend taking meter readings when you move in and out of any property. At Garness Jones Residential we have a partnership with a company called ‘Tenant Shop’ who we can refer you to and who can help with sorting your bills.
Who is responsible for paying the bills?
All utilities are the tenant’s responsibility – including gas, electricity, water, telephone, internet and council tax – unless stated otherwise in your Tenancy Agreement.
Do I need my own insurance?
Getting insurance for the building is the responsibility of your landlord, but you may want to take out your own contents’ insurance.
How do I pay my rent?
Once your Tenancy Agreement has been signed, we’ll also ask you to complete a Standing Order form to authorise your bank to pay your rent on the appropriate date each month. In our experience, this is the easiest way to pay your rent regularly without the risk of missing payments.
Can the landlord increase my rent?
Yes, a landlord or agent can renegotiate using a ‘rent review clause’ in your assured tenancy agreement or by using a statutory section 13 notice.
Unless there is a clause in your AST stating that the rent can be increased, a landlord or agency cannot increase it during a fixed-term agreement.
If a fixed-term agreement does not exist, there are no rules limiting the amount by which the rent can be increased.
Usually, only a small annual increase will be proposed, often between 2 to 5 per cent of the current rental income.
What happens if I am late paying the rent?
If you experience any problems which might affect your potential rent payment you should tell us or your landlord immediately. You will be charged at no more than 3% above the Bank of England’s base rate for each day the rent is outstanding after 14 days.
What if I can't pay my rent?
It’s your contractual responsibility to ensure the rent is always paid, but we understand that circumstances can change. If you become unemployed or are unable to work, don’t let rent arrears pile up and become unmanageable. Contact us or your landlord as soon as possible as it may be possible to delay or reschedule your payments.
My fixed term tenancy is ending, can I extend it?
Once your initial fixed term ends, it’s often possible to renew it to remain living in the property.
It might also be possible to enter into a rolling periodic agreement, where you are contractually bound by all previous obligations but there is no fixed period in which you must stay at the property.
Please call us as soon as possible so we can advise you about your landlord's willingness to extend your stay.
Can I leave the property early?
As a tenant you are legally responsible for paying the rent for the full term of the tenancy agreement. In some circumstances, you may be able to end this early but you’ll usually be responsible for the rent until a new tenant takes over or your original fixed term ends, whichever is first.
If you’re not sure how much notice you must serve, please get in touch as early as possible to avoid any mistakes.
How do I serve my notice to vacate?
It’s important to check your tenancy agreement for the required notice period to ensure you serve it (via letter or email) in line with your tenancy dates. If your tenancy start date is the 10th of the month, your notice must be served before the 10th.
What happens if the landlord wants my property back?
A landlord can serve notice on a tenant but only at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement. Depending on the agreement which was signed initially, this notice period may vary from one to two months.
What happens to my rent payments at the end of the tenancy?
After ending your contract and moving out, you must notify your bank to cancel the standing order set up for rental payments. We can’t do this for you.
How do I get my deposit back?
At the end of your tenancy, an inspection will take place to compare the property against the inventory you were provided with when you moved in.
If no damage needs to be paid for, your deposit will be returned within 10 working days of the final inspection.
Should repairs need to be made, your deposit will be retained whilst quotes are obtained. We will then inform you of the cost and deduct this from your deposit, before returning the difference to you within ten working days.
What if the landlord doesn't keep their side of the agreement?
If you feel your landlord has not kept the property in a fit state of repair, we urge tenants to report issues directly to us so we can try to resolve the situation swiftly and amicably.
However, the Citizens Advice Bureau can offer independent help and at the end of tenancy if you are unhappy with the way your deposit has been handled you have the right to refer the matter to the Tenancy Dispute Service, who will adjudicate on the issue independently.
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