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Tenants Guide

Tenants need to understand the basic concept of renting a home in the UK, which can be a complicated matter if not handled properly! Many residential tenancies in the UK are now Assured Shortholds (where the annual rent is £100,000 or less) and as such provide the tenant with security of tenure for at least six months. It is important that your agent properly explains all the facts to you from the start. Make sure that you use an agent who is a member of ARLA and the TDS to protect both you and your deposit! Here are some typical questions we get asked and some useful information. We also comply with the new 'CAP' regulations with regard to proving details of all likley Tenant charges which are detailed below.

Can I rent a property?

Landlords ask us to find reliable tenants for their properties. We have to be sure that anyone to whom we let a house will look after it, keep it clean and pay the rent on time and in full. Most landlords want their tenant to be in permanent employment, with a good credit record and a responsible outlook.

What about pets?

That really depends on the landlord – and the pet! A budgie is less of an issue than a pair of Rottweilers to most landlords. Ultimately, it is the landlord’s decision whether he will permit pets. However, if you were to have a pet in a property without the landlord’s permission, you could be in breach of the agreement and have to move out. So honesty is the best policy.

Do I have to look after the property?

Very much so. The landlord will expect you to leave the property in a similar state to when you moved in – so decorations, cleanliness, the state of fixtures, fittings and furniture – and the garden – will all be checked. If you do not keep the property clean and in good order, you might have to pay to put it right.

How do I find a house to rent?

You must decide how much rent you can afford to pay. Don’t forget you will have other expenses to pay each month, like Council Tax, gas and electricity, telephone etc., in addition to normal household costs like food, running the car and going out. We will help you find the right property in the right location at a rent you wish to pay. If we do not currently have the property you are looking for, you can register your details with us and we will continue to property search for you.

Arranging a viewing

Viewing possible properties could not be easier. Contact us and we will arrange an appointment for you with the owner or, if the house is empty, one of our staff will show you the property by appointment. Once you see a house you want, move quickly to avoid disappointment!

Getting the keys

Once your offer has been accepted and you have passed the Credit Checks and the landlord has accepted you as tenant, you will be asked to sign the Tenancy Agreement and pay the first period of rent, plus the security deposit. You must make these payments to us before you can have the keys to the property. Unfortunately, we cannot accept credit cards or ordinary cheques unless the latter are paid in advance to allow for clearance. You will need to arrange to take over the gas and electricity supplies and notify the Local Authority that you have moved in.

Is My Deposit Safe?

All deposits on AST tenancy agreements are required by law to be held under the approved (TDS) Tenancy Deposit Scheme, which provided independent settlement of any disputes and ensures that your money is safely held during the tenancy. We hold most deposits under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Paying The Rent

You should complete a Standing Order for you and send it to your Bank for them to set up on your account. The rent will be paid on a set day each period – usually the same day you have moved in. For example, if you move in on the 25th day of the month, your rent will be due on the 25th day of each month. It is your responsibility to ensure there is enough money in your account for the rent to be paid. Failure to pay on time could result in further action being taken and loss of your tenancy.

Nearing The End Of The Tenancy

You will have agreed to rent the property for a set term, usually 6 or 12 months. We will write to you and your Landlord to see if you would like to continue with the tenancy. Provided you both do, we will either prepare a new Tenancy Agreement for a further fixed term, i.e. 6 or 12 months, or the tenancy may, with the Landlord’s instruction, continue on a monthly basis until you give the required notice to vacate the property, Or your Landlord gives the required 2 months’ notice to have the property back. We will write to you regarding the check out inspection and security deposit release.

Tenancy Agreement

If the Tenancy agreement is to be in your name and the rent is less than £100,000 per annum, you are most likely to enter into an Assured Shorthold Agreement. This form of agreement came into effect in 1989, under the Housing Act of 1988. This is a fixed term agreement that runs for a minimum period of six months. You will also receive, at least two months prior to the end of the Tenancy (often given at the commencement), a notice (known as a Section 21) advising you that your Landlord requires you to vacate on the agreed date. We will also need references from your bank and from your employer, as well as a character reference from a long-standing professional associate or colleague. If you are self-employed, we will require a reference from your accountant or solicitor. All references are intended to confirm your ability and reliability to take on the commitment in question. This type of agreement cannot be used if the rent currently exceeds £100,000 p/a. Rentals of this type fall outside the Housing Act and a standard contractual Agreement will probably be used instead. If there is any doubt as to your ability to meet the rental figure, a guarantor may be required. Furthermore, identification will also be required, in the form of a passport or photo driving license etc.

If your employer is undertaking the Tenancy on your behalf, an Agreement is drawn up identifying the company as the Tenant and specifying you (and your family) as the occupant(s). An authorised signatory of the company must sign a Company agreement. Furthermore, you must be an employee of the company. For this agreement, we will need references from your company's bankers, accountants and solicitors. We will also require written confirmation from your company that you are indeed an employee.

Our own comprehensive Tenancy Agreements and Assured Shorthold Agreements have been prepared by us and are designed to be both fair to the Landlord and the Tenant. Both parties will be bound by the terms of the Agreement. You should read your Agreement carefully and make sure you understand all the clauses. You should always endeavour to seek independent legal advice from your solicitor prior to you signing it. 

Option to Renew / Break / Purchase

Depending on the type and terms of your agreement, you may have an option to renew for a further period of time. If this is the case, you must notify us in writing within the time period specified in your Agreement. If there is no option to renew, but both you and the Landlord wish to extend or renew your Agreement, this can be organised. In both cases, once terms are agreed we will prepare the necessary documentation. In addition, you may want an option to break (cut short) the Agreement. This must be agreed with the Landlord at the outset. You may be responsible for the proportionate part of the agent’s commission and Landlord's costs paid in advance by the Landlord, if you determine the tenancy early. Notice to terminate must be adhered to, as specified in your Agreement. The Landlord can also request an option to break, but in the case of an Assured Shorthold, not before six months. You may also request, in certain cases, an option to purchase the property but this must be agreed at the outset.

Rent Payments

Rental payments are payable monthly, quarterly, half yearly or annually in advance, depending on the terms of your agreement, whether legally demanded or not. You can pay by cheque, in cash or through your bank by standing order or direct debit. Your first payment would normally be made payable to Godfrey & Barr and will be paid at the time that you sign the agreement along with your agreed deposit and other charges. If you wish to move in immediately upon signature, then we will need cleared funds by way of either cash or a Bankers Draft. Further payments will normally be paid directly to the Landlords account as detailed above. Godfrey & Barr will sometimes collect the rent if a Management service is being provided. You will be advised in this regard.

Tax on Rental Income

From 6 April 1996, the way in which non-resident Landlords are taxed on rental income changed. These changes present the agent or the Tenant with two alternatives. They can either pay the Inland Revenue 25% of the rent, net of expenses. There is no negotiation on the flat rate 25% and payments must be made quarterly. If at the end of the tax year there has been excess payments, the Landlord can, on submission of detailed paperwork, apply to the Inland Revenue for a rebate or, the agent or the Tenant can pay to the Landlord rental income without deduction of tax. The latter should only be done if the Landlord (or his agent) apply for and are granted permission by the Revenue to avoid deductions. The above is only applicable to Landlords who are non-resident (normally someone who resides out of the UK for a period in excess of 6 months). If you are paying rent to a managing agent, then it is the managing agents responsibility to withhold tax as above or to receive an exemption certificate. If however you are paying rent directly to an overseas Landlord and the Landlord cannot provide you with an exemption certificate then you are strongly advised to withhold 25% of the rent and make a return to the Inland Revenue quarterly for this amount. If you do not, you may well be assessed by the Revenue for payment of the same. Further details of this Scheme are available from The Centre for Non Resident Landlords, Inland Revenue, St John's House, Merton Road, Bootle, Merseyside, L69 9BB. Telephone 0151 472 6208 / 6209.

Deposit

A deposit is generally equivalent to six weeks rent and is normally held by Godfrey & Barr as Stakeholders between the parties in accordance with the ARLA scheme called the TDS (Tenants Deposit Scheme). Godfrey & Barr will be entitled to interest on this money unless otherwise agreed. In certain circumstances and where the rental falls outside the Housing Act 1988 and provided you are in agreement and current legislation permits, the Landlord can hold the deposit but this should be placed in a separate interest bearing account. It could be used to offset any costs such as cleaning, gardening, damage or dilapidation's at the end or during the Tenancy, but should not be converted into rental payments. Your deposit should be refunded in full by either the Agent or the Landlord at the end of the Tenancy provided that there are no dilapidation's or breaches of the agreement. Any disputes will be arbitrated under the TDS, providing the Agent is holding the deposit under this scheme. Full details of the scheme are available upon request.

The Inventory and Check-In/Check-Out

Before you move in, your Landlord or an inventory service prepares an inventory, listing comprehensive details of the contents and conditions of the property. On the day you move in or at some other agreed time, you may be met on the premises to check through the inventory. You will then be asked to sign a declaration confirming the details of contents and condition are correct. The cost of preparation of the inventory is normally paid by the Landlord and the check-in and checkout costs by the Tenant. If you do not sign and return the inventory to the agent within seven days, it will be deemed that you have accepted it as written. Godfrey & Barr use an associated company to provide this service.

Initial Payments

As stated above, once you have chosen your property and the terms of the Tenancy have been agreed, Godfrey & Barr draw up the relevant documents for signature. At this time Godfrey & Barr ask you to pay your first rental payment, half the cost of drawing up the Tenancy agreement, your deposit and the reference charge approx. 

Utilities

Most Agreements require the Tenant to be responsible for gas, electricity, telephone, water rates and TV licence, as well as Council Tax. Gas, electricity and telephone companies will carry out a credit check on you. If you have not been a customer before, they may ask for a deposit against your first years bill. You must inform all the relevant services of your moving in date and register with them, signing the appropriate documents. It is your responsibility to notify the relevant utilities of your impending departure date at the termination of the Tenancy. Your deposit will not be refunded until proof can be provided, to us or the Landlord, that all utility accounts have been settled by you.

Council Tax

You must inform the local authority of your moving-in date. The council will then send you a registration form. It is vital that you complete and return this form. It is a criminal offence not to pay Council Tax.

Insurance

Under our normal Agreement, your Landlord takes out insurance for the building and the contents provided. This does not cover the possessions you bring in yourself. For your own possessions you should take out an "all risks" insurance policy.

Management

During your Tenancy,
if the property is being managed by Godfrey & Barr, Godfrey & Barr will make sure everything goes smoothly for you. Godfrey & Barr will deal with any problems, like electrical appliance repairs or other problems. If you have any queries, contact Godfrey & Barr during office hours. If the property is not being managed, all matters concerning the property are between you and the Landlord and the Landlord should be contacted in the event of any difficulties during the Tenancy.

Moving Out

Either Godfrey & Barr or the Landlord will probably arrange for an inventory check out on the day you are due to leave. At the check out time, the property should be clean and tidy, as you found it and ready for hand over. After handing over the keys, a report is prepared as to the condition of the property and any defects or damages are listed. You should already have contacted the utility companies for termination accounts. Once these are paid, submit them to either Godfrey & Barr or the Landlord as evidence of payment. This is important. If for any reason a supply is disconnected, you could be charged a reconnection fee. Your termination receipts are also needed so that either the Landlord or Godfrey & Barr can release your original deposit, less any appropriate charges, (which may include the cost of the check out), and return the balance to you.

Furniture and Furnishings Regulatons

March 1993 saw the application of the above Regulations to furnished lettings. They require that upholstered furniture supplied in a furnished let must meet all the resistance requirements of the Regulations. The supply of furnishings " in the course of business" which do not meet the Regulation constitutes an offence under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Conviction for an offence under the Regulations carries a maximum penalty of a fine of £5,000 or six months imprisonment, or both. The phrase "in the course of business" includes the business of letting furnished accommodation by Landlords and can also include the business of a Letting Agent. However Landlords who privately let their principal residence are not caught by this definition, unless the let is long term or they carry on persistent letting. In brief, the Regulations require that the upholstered furniture, mattresses, pillows and cushions, and head boards and head bases which are upholstered and included in a furnished letting must have a fire resistant filling material, the covering fabric must have passed a match resistance test and the combination of cover fabric and filling must have a passed cigarette resistance test. The Regulations do not apply to soft furnishings such as curtains, carpets, etc.
 Furniture, manufactured before 1 January 1950 have been deemed not to be made with especially hazardous materials and is exempt. There is also some leeway for properties which have been subject to a continuous let since before 1 March 1993. In this case the Regulations need not be complied with up to 31 December 1996. However, any replacement furniture supplied during this transitional period must comply.

Since 1 March 1990, all new upholstered furniture sold in retail outlets has had to comply with the Regulations. In order to show compliance, such furniture carries a permanent label stating the tests to which the materials have been subjected. This label is of great assistance to a Letting Agent or Landlord in determining what furniture is acceptable in order not to commit an offence.


Further guidance and a free booklet produced by the Department for Trade and Industry is available from your local Council Trading Standards Department, or from this office.
 Please ensure that the furniture and furnishings of your property conform to the regulations of the above act. Godfrey & Barr cannot be held responsible if your furnishings and furniture does not comply with current regulations.

The Gas Safety regulations

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 are made under the Health and Safety at Work act 1974, which is the principal legislation relating to the same. The principal obligations of the Landlord are to be found in Regulations 34, 35 and 36 and the offences in Section 33 and 36 (1) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
 Details of which are available from this office and the Health and Safety executive. The act governs the Landlords obligations, unsafe appliances, and maintenance of appliances, escape of gas and criminal liability.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

AAs of 1 December 2003, this tax is solely the responsibility of the Tenant to pay. It is payable to the Inland Revenue for any short-term residential tenancies of up to seven years. The core change is the threshold over which the SDLT becomes due and the method of calculating that threshold is based on a computation known as Net Present Value (NPV). If the NPV amount is less than £60,000 then not LDLT is due. If the figure is more than £60,000 then tax is payable by the tenant(s) based upon 1% of the NPV. The sole responsibility for the calculation and submission of the relevant forms (SDLT1 and SDLT4) to the Revenue is the tenant(s). If makes no difference if the tenant is a person(s), Company, Trust or Partnership. All are liable to pay SDLT. The Tenant has 30 from the 'effective date' in which to submit the forms. There are fines and possible penalties if the forms are submitted later than three months. If does not matter whether the tenancy is assured, shorthold, non-housing act or company let, they are all included. The calculation is on the rent due under each year (or part year) of the initial fixed term - irrespective of any notice period requirements. It is irrelevant if there is a break clause in the tenancy, as the calculation of the NPV is based upon the rent due each year (or part thereof) of the initial fixed term. There is no entitlement to a rebate in the event that a break clause is exercised, or a tenancy terminating early for any reason. Further details are available from the Inland Revenue's website or from ARLA.

In accordance with current legislation, specifically the Money Laundering Regulations 2003 (MLR 2003); the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA 2002); the Terrorism Act 2000 (TA 2000) amongst other requirements, we are obliged by law to properly identify clients' of this firm. However in the interests of safe practice, we also require proper identification on those parties who rent a property through us. In this regard, we require you to provide us with formal identification. This can be in the following form: a valid passport, or a valid EU/UK photo driving license. We also, however, require proof of address. This could be a utility bill, or a mortgage statement, or an Inland Revenue tax notification. The above should be brought to our office in person, where a copy will be made and retained in our records. In the event that you are unable to visit us personally, we would accept copies, but in the case of the passport or driving license, these must be certified by an professional person, i.e.: a solicitor, a GP or a JP. In the case of joint owners, buyers or tenants, both must comply with the above legislation.

Electrical regulations

As of January 2005, there was new legislation introduced to cover electrical installations called the Part P Electrical Regulations Act 2005. Any installation or repair, excluding minor repairs, such as replacement of switches and sockets, now needs to be completed and self-certified by a qualified Electrician, who is a member of either ELECSA, BSI, ECA/BRE, NAPIT or NICEIC. Otherwise Building Control at your Local Authority has to oversea the installation or repair. Even minor repairs must come with a 'Minor Works Certificate' on completion of the job. Repairs that fall within the Act should be certified in accordance with BS7671. Your Landlord should ensure that all works in the property, whether completed, underway or scheduled are carried out in accordance with the regulations and legislation.
The above information is correct as at November 2006, but due to the continuous changes in legislation in relation to residential lettings and estate agency in general, tenants are recommended to seek professional advice from either their accountant or their solicitor to clarify the up to date tax and legal position, before committing to any rental.

 

Tenant Charges to comply with ‘CAP’

(committee of advertising practice) regulations

 

Administration Charges

An administration fee of £180 including VAT will be payable by the tenant upon creation of a legally binding tenancy agreement.

Reference Fees

£60 Inc VAT per Person/Company/Guarantor. ?

Holding Deposit

A 3 week non-refundable* holding deposit is required to secure a rental (this will form part of the dilapidation deposit on moving in).

*If the Tenant withdraws after paying the holding deposit the holding deposit with be forfeited. If the Landlord withdraws it will be refunded in full.

Dilapidation Deposit

A deposit normally equivalent to six weeks’ rent must be paid in cleared funds when you sign the tenancy agreement (less any holding deposit paid) and is normally held by us as Stakeholder for the duration of the tenancy in accordance with the terms of the tenancy agreement and where applicable we will register the deposit monies with a deposit protection scheme. This will normally be the TDS or Tenants Deposit Scheme if we are holding the deposit. Sometimes where Landlord holds the deposit, another deposit protection scheme might be used. All deposit deductions held under such schemes, must be agreed in writing by both landlord and tenant upon the termination of the tenancy. The tenancy agreement entered into is between the landlord and the tenant and, therefore, the tenant cannot hold us liable for any deductions made from the deposit which may fall into dispute. Any interest earned on the deposit shall be retained by us. If the tenancy is not an Assured Shorthold (AST), normally when the rent is more that £100,000 p.a or the tenant is a company, then the deposit may be held as ‘Agents for the Landlord’ rather than as ‘Stakeholders’. This would mean we would hold it under the Landlords instructions and this may not provide the same level of protection to the Tenant as a deposit held under an approved deposit scheme.

Rent charges

Usually one months rent in advance.

Break Clauses

Should you wish to terminate your tenancy before the end of the term in accordance with your tenancy agreement, you may still be responsible for the repayment of the pro-rata commission paid in advance by the landlord for the unexpired portion of the tenancy. If you do not have a break clause, you might not be able to break the lease early.

Identity

It is your obligation to obtain written consent from the landlord for any change in the identity of the tenants. Upon receipt of this consent we will draw up a tenancy agreement for signature by all parties. A further administration fee of £180 including VAT will be charged for this service.

Further Administration Fees

A further administration fee of £60 including VAT may be charged for each letter sent by us regarding late or non-payment of rent or administration charges. If any charges remain outstanding at the end of the tenancy, we can deduct the amount due from the deposit.

Renewal of tenancy

If the tenancy is renewed, we will make a charge of £180 including VAT to cover our administration costs.

Payment of rent

The first instalment of rent must be paid in cleared funds when you sign the tenancy agreement. Thereafter, rent is payable by standing order (unless agreed otherwise) to arrive on the due date as stated in the tenancy agreement.

References/identifcation

We will take up references based on the details that you have supplied to us. These references may be passed to our client so that they can make a decision on granting a tenancy. You are responsible for any administration charges levied by your own bank in relation to obtaining a reference if needed. Before the tenancy can proceed, you need to provide us with a photo ID in the form of a passport or EU driving licence.

Check-in and check-out

We will be instructed by the landlord as to what arrangements are to be made for the inventory and check-in. Unless agreed otherwise, the landlord will be responsible for the cost of the inventory and the tenant will be liable for the cost of the check-in and check-out (and any missed appointments). We advise you to make yourself available for the check-in and checkout. Check in and check out fees vary, depending upon the size of the property and whether it is furnished or not.

Management of the property

At the start of the tenancy we will advise you who is responsible for managing the property. This is not always us. Where we are not managing the property we cannot authorise any repairs or maintenance or guarantee the speed at which repairs will be carried out. Where we are managing the property, we may have to obtain the landlord’s consent before proceeding with a repair. Where we manage a property and hold keys, we can usually provide access to with your permission. However, where we do not hold keys or the contractor is not willing to collect keys, it is your responsibility to provide access.

Insurance

It is your responsibility to insure your own belongings throughout the tenancy.

Utilities

You will be responsible for the payment of telephone, gas, water and electricity accounts at the property during your tenancy, as well as the council tax. It is your responsibility to notify the relevant companies and the local authority that you are moving into/out of the property. You are also responsible for ensuring that a valid television licence remains in place for the duration of the tenancy. Utility companies will also always require the occupant to provide access for any visit.

Taxation

If you pay rent directly to your landlord’s bank account and your landlord is resident overseas, you will be responsible for applying the provisions of the HM Revenue and Customs Non-Resident Landlords scheme for taxing UK rental income and should ask us for advice on this. These provisions do not apply where you are paying your rent to us.

Anti-Money Laundering Regulations

We are subject to the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. As a result we will need to ask you for suitable identi?cation, and will be unable to proceed with any work on your behalf if we are unable to obtain this from you.

VAT

All charges levied by us are subject to the addition of VAT at the prevailing rate.

 

Godfrey and Barr 2015

 

 


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