Below is Property Trend’s guide for tenants. It includes answers to questions we are commonly asked. If you need to know anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
If you are using a lettings agency to find your ideal home, let them know what you are looking for: your budget, location preference, the number of bedrooms and any other features that you require.
Do you have specific needs regarding smoking or pets? Many landlords refuse to accommodate either of these, so it’s always best to ask outright.
Property Trend uses the information you supply to ensure we only send you alerts about prospective properties that meet your criteria. If you would like to view any of these, please do get in touch to arrange.
When you visit a property it’s good to look at how well-maintained it is. Ask to see the gas safety certificates and check whether all is in good working order: do the windows open easily and does the toilet flush properly? Run the hot water and check the heating systems. Ask also about the furnishings – what will be present when you move in and do these items adhere to fire safety regulations?
What about secure entry into the building and your rented accommodation – do the doors have five lever mortise locks? If it’s a flat, do you have your own secure post box? And how are the communal areas cleaned?
Is there space for parking and are any permits required? If so, what are the costs? And what other transport and amenities exist in the local area?
Finally, ask about your landlord and neighbours.
2. Be prepared – checklist for prospective tenants
So you’ve finally found the ideal place to rent. What next? There are a host of formalities that must be undertaken before you can move in.
As this is London, there is no shortage of demand for rented accommodation, so it’s good for prospective tenants to be ready to act quickly. Here’s a handy list to help you prepare:
o Reservation fee: most reputable letting agents, including Property Trend, charge this to confirm a prospective tenant’s interest. The fee covers our time in doing the necessary checks on a tenant. Property Trend charges £600 for this process, which is subsequently deducted from your total cost’s or refunded to you should you satisfy the letting criteria and checks, but the landlord chooses not to proceed with your application. Should you pull out before any decision is made, you would forfeit this fee.
Unlike other agencies, Property Trend will only reserve the property for one prospective tenant at a time, and will give a decision on their application within seven working days. If you pass the credit checks, but the landlord refuses your application, we will return your fee at this point.
- Proof of ID: a passport or driving licence
- Proof of address: we need a copy of a utility bill or bank statement from the last three months, and details of where you have lived in the last three years
- References: these are is usually from your place of work and, if applicable, your existing landlord
- Deposit: Four/six months’ rent in advance (this differs according to the rent per annum)
- First month’s rent
- Signing tenancy agreement
The most commonly used contract between a landlord and tenant is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) Agreement, which sets out the responsibilities of both parties. Most agreements usually run for a year, but you can agree to extend your tenancy for longer, say for up to three or even five years.
One year ASTs do not usually include a break clause. If you require this, raise the issue with our lettings specialist who can discuss the matter with the landlord and if agreed, can incorporate terms governing an early termination into your agreement.
Any amendments or additional points agreed beyond the standard terms of an AST should be made in writing, signed by both parties and added to the end of the agreement as a rider: if, for example, your landlord has agreed to remove existing furniture to make way for some of yours (sofa or bed), or if you need to replace the names of some of the existing occupiers with new ones.
4. What’s included in the rent?
Your rent usually only covers the lease of the property. Utilities, such as gas, water, and electricity, as well as council tax are all additional items that tenants must also pay. When you first move into the property, you will need to register as the new residents at the property to have access to these services and then arrange payment for them direct.
The total deposit required varies in regards to the rent per annum. It can be between 4-6 weeks depending on if the rent is above or below £50,000 PA (6 weeks for above this amount)
Property Trend is part of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), which means any deposits we take for lets we manage are protected under this scheme. Deposits are protected and will be returned within a 14 days period after a tenancy terminates and vacant possession is handed back, less any deductions made for damages.
In the event of a dispute over how much the damages cost, the TDS stipulates that only the amount needed to cover the damages must be withheld and the balance paid back to the tenant.
Our lettings specialist will invite a professional inventory agent to examine and record the condition of a property before and at the end of a tenancy. There are no charges for ordinary wear and tear, but where the property is damaged due to negligence and or malicious damage in some way, i.e. as by making holes in walls, or damaging furniture or other features of the property, tenants will be expected to cover the cost of repairing or replacing these.
If a tenant disputes these charges, the relevant deposit scheme will offer an independent forum to arbitrate. This means an adjudicator will assess the evidence presented by both sides and suggest a fair resolution. Failing this, the parties can always resort to court, but this is a lengthier and more costly option for both sides.
6. Who do I contact: the landlord or letting agent?
Estate agents can have different roles in the letting process. Sometimes they locate new tenants, oversee the formalities, receive an introduction fee and then pass the management of the property and its tenants back to the landlord. Other times they fully manage the property on the landlord’s behalf. If it is the latter, then a tenant’s first port of call will be the letting agent.
We will inform you in writing who you will deal with when you first move in, and again if there are any changes to this situation.
The landlord is responsible for any repairs needed at the property, you should report any problems in writing as soon as they arise. If there has been a breakage caused by the tenant, this should be reported immediately, unless agreed otherwise, its cost will normally be deducted from the deposit.
Letting agents managing a property on behalf of a landlord have varying degrees of control. Some simple repairs can be carried out quickly and directly. Others may require more funds, and therefore permission and finance must be sought from the landlord first. At all times, Property Trend will keep both landlord and tenants informed and seek to remedy the situation as quickly as is reasonably possible.
Should you be dealing with the landlord direct and find the repairs are not being made, even after repeated requests, you should take the matter up with a solicitor. Withholding rent is not acceptable under any circumstances – you will be in breach of contract and could result in you been taken to court adding additional costs also.
8. Privacy at the property
As part of our good practice in property management, we aim to inspect rented accommodation at least twice a year. We will inform you in advance of this, so your privacy is respected. More details can be found in the Tenancy Agreement.
9. New house/flat mates
Sub-letting by tenants without the prior express permission of the landlord is not permitted. Your AST includes the names of all the occupiers at the property, so should anyone move in who is not listed, the tenants would be in breach of their Tenancy Agreement.
If there are multiple occupants, and someone is moving out and you have another person ready to move in, let us or your landlord know so we can make the necessary amendments to update the agreement.
Do bear in mind that where several people take over the tenancy of a property together, they are ‘jointly and severally’ liable. This means that tenants have both an individual and collective responsibility for fulfilling all the terms of a Tenancy Agreement. Any breach of contract by one of them will impact all of them. So if someone moved out early and stopped paying their share of the rent, the remaining tenants remain liable for the entire rent due on the property.
10. Ending the tenancy early
Your Tenancy Agreement will set out the length and end date of the tenancy.
Unless expressly agreed, most ASTs do not allow either the landlord or tenant to break the agreement early, and even at the end of a fixed term agreement, one of the parties must give the other written notice that they wish to terminate the agreement.
For a one year agreement, it is customary to give two full calendar month’s notice, so a landlord should receive written notice no later than the 10th month of the lease.
In the event neither party gives any notice, the contract will roll forward under the existing terms until such time that either the landlord or the tenant informs the other about bringing the contract to an end. A month’s notice is usually required for this.
11. Professional service
Reputable letting agents will belong to a professional body, which can vet their services and give them a licence to practice. Property Trend is a member of the National Approved Lettings Scheme. It means we agree to abide by the professional standards they set out for our sector, giving peace of mind to both landlords and tenants about the quality of service we undertake to give.