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Guide to renting property

Whoever you rent a property with, this general guide to renting will cover many of the typical questions asked by tenants.

 

How much do I need to ‘budget’ in addition to the rental payments?

To reserve a property you will probably be asked for a reservation fee of £500. 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 between 6-8 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 ARLA letting agent such as ludlowthompson.

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.

I am from overseas – what do I need to know?

The renting process in the UK may be different from that of your own country. ludlowthompson offers various translation facilities to assist overseas tenants, particularly with detailed agreements that would be easier to understand in the tenant’s first language. To read these pages, ludlowthompson website offers a translation facility via flag links or you can use Google’s free translation service at www.google.com/language_tools

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 ARLA letting agents will abide by best practice rules that work for both landlord and tenant. Using an ARLA letting agent, such as ludlowthompson, 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?

Rental tenancies range from 12-36 months, and the average tenancy length at Ludlowthompson during 2011 was 26.2 months. In most instances, the longer the contract, the stronger your offer. 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?

It is a dangerous tactic to 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.

If you rent a property through ludlowthompson the landlord is likely to use Tenancy Deposit Solutions scheme – to find out more see http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/tenants/how.aspx

Does it matter which letting agent I rent through?

To ensure you receive a professional service it’s best to choose to rent a property via an ARLA member agent (Association of Residential Letting Agents), such as www.ludlowthompson.com      

An ARLA agent works to professional standards that work well for both landlords and tenants: a tenant renting via an ARLA 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. An ARLA agent will also have proper procedures for reporting and dealing with repairs - www.arla.co.uk

How ‘My Tenancy’ makes things easier for you:

In addition to this guide to renting, ludlowthompson offer their tenants some very useful and free services via its My Tenancy website facility. Whilst looking for a property the hard work is done for you by keeping you alerted to new property by Email & Text Property Alerts. Once you find a property to rent, ‘My Tenancy’ gives you everything you need to during the tenancy from all the documents including safety certificates, rental statements plus a link to report repairs (only where the property is ‘Managed’ by ludlowthompson). 

We hope you found this Guide to Renting useful

Renting a property with ludlowthompson?

Please read Our renting procedure - useful notes for customers

Further information on renting property:

See advice for tenants renting at http://www.arla.co.uk/info/tenants.htm

This information was correct at the time of publication and may be periodically updated. Advice may vary between letting agents so please check if you wish to clarify any points.

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