Renting property has become an increasingly important sector of the housing market in recent years and whether or not you’re an experienced tenant or embarking on your first rental property search there can be so much to consider and organise. Whatever your background and level of understanding it’s important that you are prepared!
Some useful renting tips and information to ensure your application and tenancy runs as smoothly as possible from start to finish:
At Churchwood Stanley we make every effort to ensure that the property is right for the Tenant and the Tenant is right for the Landlord. This is done to try to mitigate any problems occurring during the tenancy and to make sure that expectations on both sides are met.
Before you start
Budget, budget and budget again!
What can I afford?
Remember monthly rent is not the only cost to consider, it is important that you factor in all household costs such as council tax and utility bills (gas, electricity and water), phone bills & broadband, TV licence etc.
The most important and very first check when you wish to apply for a tenancy will be the “affordability check” this will be carried out before any referencing commences. In order to ensure you can afford the property you wish to rent use this easy check, multiply the rent by 30 to give you the household income required.
Know what you need
What are your specific needs? What type of property is most appropriate to satisfy your needs?
A bungalow, a house, a flat? A garden? Parking and how many spaces? What attributes are important like the number of bedrooms and their size!
If you have pets make sure the landlord of the property will accept your pet(s) before viewing to avoid wasting time and disappointment.
How about location? Have you worked out the proximity to schools, the commute to the station, whether or not you need to be near local amenities and shops?
All of this is important for the longevity of your tenancy and for your happiness!
Good rental properties don’t hang around they go quickly.
Legislation in 2014 and 2016 led to reduced tax relief for landlords and increased stamp duty on buy to let properties. This has led to fewer properties being offered for rent whilst the number of active tenants in the market continues to rise. If a property comes onto your radar that you think you might consider seriously – drop everything and come to see it right away!
We strongly advise signing up to our notification service (link) so that you hear from us as soon as anything that fills your criteria comes to market. This also helps us get a feel for you so we can understand your requirements in advance and keep you in mind for opportunities coming up. If we know you, we can do our best to help you.
Preparing for the Application
Congratulations, you’ve now found a house and you want to proceed with the application for a tenancy. What are you going to need to make sure this runs smoothly?
If you’re prepared in advance you will find this less daunting!
You will need to provide:
- Photographic ID for all of your household who are over 18 years old
- Proof of income (wage slips, investment/savings statements etc.)
- 3 months of most recent bank statements
- Your home address history
- Proof of Residency
All of the above will be essential for our professional referencing process.
Holding Deposit and Tenancy Deposit
You will be required to pay a holding deposit with your formal application for a tenancy. The holding deposit will always be equivalent to one week’s rent for any property.
The Tenancy Security Deposit is due along with the first month’s rent in cleared funds to be received no later than 1 day prior to the start of the tenancy. The Tenancy Security Deposit will be protected in a Government Approved Scheme in line with current legislation. These schemes all require a postal address to be used to contact you at the end of the tenancy. We call this “your safe address” It is where they can write to you regarding your deposit following the end of tenancy.
Tenants Fees: There are NO upfront tenant fees payable.
The only fees that may be charged during a tenancy are here:
Link to (or host) Tenant Fees.
Understand the tenancy agreement
It should go without saying but please do read the tenancy agreement in full. Understand your obligations as a tenant and the terms and the length of the tenancy. Understand and be aware of what you are committing to, the tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. If you should have any concerns over what you are signing you should always seek professional legal advice before you sign.
Documents we and your landlord will provide to you:
- A copy of the ‘How to Rent’ guide
- If the property has Gas you will be provided with a valid copy of the Landlords Gas Safety Certificate (LGSC)
- Security Deposit Paperwork – details of the Government approved scheme that your deposit has been protected by the Deposit Protection Certificate(DPC) and the prescribed information
- The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property.
- Your Tenancy Agreement (AST)
- The Inventory & Schedule of Condition Report (ISC)
We will make arrangements with you to go through all the paperwork and sign the required documents prior to moving in. It’s usual for us to meet you at the property on the start date of the tenancy to do the ‘Check In’ at which time we normally get all the required paperwork signed.
The ISC is also an important document that itemises, among other things the fixtures and fittings and the condition of the property that you are about to move into at the start of your tenancy. You will have 7 days to go through this document and satisfy yourself that it is accurate or discuss it with us if there is any discrepancy.
As for utilities and bills, if your property is being managed by us, we lend a helping hand and will contact the water, gas and electricity supplier notifying them of the new tenancy and occupants. We will also notify the relevant council for council tax purposes.
If your property is being privately managed, make sure you take meter readings on day one and provide them to the relevant utility companies as soon as possible.
The landlord is responsible for the buildings insurance but you as a tenant are responsible for contents insurance for your own belongings.
Familiarise yourself with any appliances supplied in the property, we will ensure that you are provided with user manuals as and when appropriate. Also ensure you are aware of the location of the water stopcock for the property, in case of emergency water leaks, we always include this in the (ISC) and the location of the utility meters.
Your main responsibilities as a Tenant:
- Pay your rent on the rent due date every month by standing order – failure to do so will put you in breach of your tenancy and at risk of potentially losing your home.
- Look after the property – This house is your home but you are expected to keep it clean and tidy.
- Reporting Issues - You are responsible for reporting any problems with the property particularly maintenance issues and you must inform the landlord/agent in a timely and responsible manner, not reporting issues can put you and your deposit at risk.
- Regularly Test Smoke alarms – whilst it is the Landlord's duty to provide working smoke alarms at the commencement of the tenancy, it is yours to ensure that they continue to work throughout the tenancy.
- Be considerate to your neighbours – always treat others how you would expect to be treated yourself. Excess noise or incorrect disposal of waste has the potential to cause problems and complaints and could put your tenancy at risk.
The Landlord’s (or Agent’s) main responsibility to you:
- To maintain the building to an appropriate standard making sure the structure is safe and free from defects including the outside elevations and the roof.
- Ensure that the building is insured for damage, flood and fire.
- Provide carbon monoxide alarms in rooms that use solid fuels (wood/coal etc).
- Service issues with regards to incoming utilities
- Maintain appliances or furniture that they have provided
- Carry out reasonable repairs – please advise at the earliest if you have any concerns relating to the condition of the property or issues relating to how you live day to day there.
- Provide an annual Gas Safe check and Landlords Gas safety certificate
- Provide 24 hour notice for visits relating to inspections or repairs and maintenance except in an emergency.
As a tenant you are able to provide just one months’ notice in writing, subject to the terms of the tenancy agreement. Any notice period is required to be effective from the next rent due date, subject to fulfilling the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Should a landlord require possession of the property then they will need to give you a minimum of two months’ notice, subject to the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Moving out early can be tricky and would need to be negotiated with the landlord at the time and any costs that they will incur from an early termination will need to be covered, such as the cost of finding a new tenant.
At the end of the tenancy a ‘Check OUT’ will be carried out by a professional qualified ARLA Propertymark member. The property will be assessed against the original Inventory and Schedule of Condition provided at the ‘Check IN’. This is a very time consuming procedure and each item is checked line by line and any differences noted and photos taken which will be used to consider whether there is a valid reason to withhold any deposit monies allowing for fair wear & tear.
Return of Deposit
The Deposit will be returned less any agreed deductions direct to your designated bank account. If you do not agree with any proposed deductions, first speak to your agent or Landlord and if this is unresolved you will then need to contact the relevant deposit scheme dispute service. Full details of this procedure will be provided at the commencement of your tenancy and at the end of the tenancy as and when necessary.
Outstanding Rent and Bills
Ensure that all payments for rent and utility bills and council tax are up to date at the end of the tenancy. Failure to do so may affect both your credit rating and future referencing.
Clean up and Departure
All your personal items and waste must have been removed when the property is handed back. Always make sure the property is returned in as good as condition as at the commencement of the tenancy, allowing for fair wear & tear. Take meter readings on exit and return all keys to the agent or Landlord.
Until all keys in your possession are returned to the agent or landlord you remain legally in possession of the property and therefore you remain liable for rent and other costs until such time that the keys are in the possession of the agent/landlord.