Finding the right property and making sure you can afford it
Firstly, it is important to choose a lettings agent that you can trust. Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and being part of a redress scheme, such as The Ombudsman for Letting Agents, are very important factors.
Before looking, check your affordability. Our referencing works on the following basis;
30 x the monthly rent, i.e. property for rent at £700 per calendar month - £700 x 30 - £21,000, so your annual salary should be a minimum of £21,000
Don’t forget Council Tax and the cost of utilities when you’re thinking about your budget. Once you are happy with what you can afford, the next decisions are: where do you want to live and what accommodation do you need? Put together a ‘must have’ list. Get yourself registered with one or more letting agents who will keep you up-to-date with all new rental instructions by text message, e-mail and phone.
When viewing, many properties will still have the tenant(s) preparing to leave and you will have to respect their personal property, but you should be looking out for any maintenance issues which you will want the letting agent to speak to the landlord about. Look at the energy rating via the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), enquire about mobile phone reception, cable satellite dish installations, broadband and anything else that is important to you.
Securing a property
The rental market moves very quickly indeed and it is not unusual to have two or three tenants wanting to secure the same property. In these circumstances it is always the landlord’s decision as to which tenant will be preferred. Once you have gained agreement from the landlord to take you as a tenant, you will need to pay application fees:
1 Applicant - £230 + VAT (£276)
2 Applicants - £250 + VAT (£300)
Guarantor - £50 + VAT (£60)
It is important you are confident that you will pass the referencing checks, as the referencing fees will not be refunded.
3 years address history
Details of the landlord of any property you have rented in the last 3 years
Confirmation of earnings per annum that are equal to or greater than the monthly rental, multiplied by 30.
No adverse credit in the form of a County Court Judgement, Bankruptcy Court or similar.
If you are self-employed, you need to provide either an accounts reference or evidence of the last three years tax return.
If you have any doubts about the referencing, you should discuss this with one of our lettings staff.
To fully secure the property you will need to pay one-and-a-half-month’s deposit, which must be transferred to the Deposit Protection Service within 14 days.
The Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding document setting out the terms of the tenancy and is drawn up to ensure the rights and obligations of both the tenant and landlord. All relevant parties will be asked to sign the document, agreeing to the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant. The date on which the contract starts will become your rent due date. you will be asked, prior to taking residence, to pay the first month’s rent in advance.
Insurance and Safety Regulations
Where appropriate, the necessary documentation (e.g. gas safety certificate) will be available at the property. Landlords have a responsibility to keep tenants safe from harm by making sure the property complies with all current legal safety standards.
Tenants often overlook the need to take out contents insurance when renting a property, KevinHenry can provide access to the appropriate insurance. It is recommended that you do so.
There will have been discussions about the process for moving in and on the day, you should have received invoice documentation regarding all the fees you have paid, such as the first month’s rent, deposit and administration fee.
The inventory is a detailed list of the contents and conditions of the property at the point you move in. This should alleviate risks of dispute at the end of the tenancy and will be used to arbitrate in any dispute. You should thoroughly check the inventory before you sign for it. You will receive a form from the inventory company to list anything that you feel is not described on the actual inventory, this form is then returned to them with your comments.
The property you are renting is a very large investment for your landlord. You will be informed as to when an inspection is required, with at least 24 hours notification. If fully managed, this is generally after the first three months of the tenancy and thereafter half-yearly, but can be more frequent if the property condition gives cause to do so. This is an opportunity to check that you as a tenant are looking after the property as you should and, if not, you will be advised on the appropriate courses of action. If introduction only, the landlord will get in touch with you.
From time-to-time there may be the odd problem with the property. If fully managed, you should notify our lettings department immediately and we will guide you through what happens next. Some things will be your responsibility, such as replacing light bulbs, maintaining the garden etc. Other things, unless an emergency, may not be dealt with immediately. Whilst we have an excellent relationship with our contractors, there are times when they cannot come out immediately and it may be a few days before matters are resolved. The majority of homeowners waiting for a tradesman to turn up, having to take a day off work and getting the problem solved within a week, is often the norm. We will do our level best to sort out all problems as quickly as we can. If the property is being managed by the landlord, you will contact the landlord to report any problems. It is important that any faults get reported quickly. If they grow into larger more costly problems, it could be argued that the additional cost was your fault for not reporting it.
Renewing your tenancy, or moving out
Once you are nearing the end of your tenancy period, you will have to decide whether to extend your stay or move on. If deciding to move you will have to give the appropriate notice of one month and be prepared to allow the lettings agent to show potential tenants round. Remember, the landlord is also entitled to serve the appropriate two months’ notice if they have a need for the property to become vacant. If notice is given and the property is managed, we will arrange a check-out to ensure the property is left in an appropriate condition and if all is well, you will hand the keys back and final meter readings will be taken. An appropriate time will need to be arranged. If there are any issues, these will be discussed with you and remedies organised. If the landlord is managing the property you will give your notice to the landlord.
If the property has been left in an appropriate condition, allowing for fair wear and tear, then you will have no problems in receiving your deposit back. If, however, there are issues, these will be discussed with you to give you a chance to put them right, or agree to the cost of putting them right coming out of the deposit. If, however, there is a dispute, then the Deposit Protection Service has an arbitration service that will resolve the issue, but it may take several weeks before your deposit is returned to you. If the property is being managed by the landlord you will sort out the return of your deposit with the landlord.
Tips for leaving the property in an appropriate condition
Our fully managed properties will more than likely have been professionally cleaned and you should do the same, returning the property in the same condition as when you took it on. It is your responsibility to tidy up the garden and clear away any rubbish, return all of the keys and remove all of your personal belongings, including from garages, sheds and loft spaces. We, of course, can provide any help before your tenancy comes to an end. This is crucial for the return of your deposit.