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 private 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 Propertymark and an approved Tenancy Deposit scheme like 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 about providing details of all likely Tenant charges which are detailed on each property.
Landlords ask us to find reliable Tenants for their properties. We must 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.
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 they 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 must move out. So, honesty is the best policy.
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, 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.
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.
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 home you want, move quickly to avoid disappointment!
Once your offer has been accepted and you have passed the Money Laundering and KYC, credit & reference checks and the Landlord has accepted you as a 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 via bank transfer or debit card before you can have the keys to the property. You will need to arrange to take over the gas and electricity supplies and notify the Local Authority that you have moved in.
All deposits on AST tenancy agreements are required by law to be held under the approved (TDS) Tenancy Deposit Scheme, or one of the other Government approved schemes, which provides 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 (TDS).
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 depending on the terms of the lease. 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.
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.
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 (AST). 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 a notice (known as a Section 21) advising you that your Landlord requires you to vacate on the agreed date. We will carry out a full referencing check via our third-party referencing company. All references are intended to confirm your ability and reliability to take on the commitment in question.
If the rent is more than £100,000 per annum, or is a company let then this type of agreement cannot be used. Rentals of this type of 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, proof of address and/or photo driving licence etc, along with other KYC and money laundering checks that we make. 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 and we will need to carry out similar checks on the company too. 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.
Depending on the type and terms of your agreement, you may have an option to renew for a further period. If this is the case, you must notify us in writing within the time 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 of the Landlord's costs and letting fees 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.
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 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. Further payments will normally be paid directly to the Landlord's 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.
Since 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 of 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 their 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 more than 6 months). If you are paying rent to a managing agent, then it is the managing agent’s 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 online from HMRC.
A deposit is generally equivalent to five or six weeks rent and is normally held by Godfrey & Barr as Stakeholders between the parties in accordance with the law and 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 agree 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 dilapidations 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 if there are no dilapidations or breaches of the agreement. Any disputes for AST's will be arbitrated under the TDS, or other such Government approved scheme. Full details of the scheme are available upon request.
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 and the check-out is normally paid by the Landlord. 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 outside company to provide this service.
As stated above, once you have chosen your property and the terms of the Tenancy have been agreed, Godfrey & Barr will start to draw up the relevant documents and carry out references and other checks too. At this time Godfrey & Barr ask you to pay your deposit to secure the property. This is usually one week's rent.
Most Agreements require the Tenant to be responsible for gas, electricity, telephone, water rates and TV licence, as well as Council Tax. 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 year's 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.
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.
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. It is your responsibility to insure your own belongings throughout the tenancy.
If the property is being managed by Godfrey & Barr during your tenancy, we 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.
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 Landlords 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.
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, headboards 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. Since 1 March 1990, all new upholstered furniture sold in retail outlets has had to comply with the Regulations. 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. 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 (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.
As of April 2018, there has been a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations came into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. It is unlawful to rent a property which breaches the requirement for a minimum E rating unless there is an applicable exemption. A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for breaches. This guidance summarises the regulations. There are separate regulations effective from 1 April 2016 under which a Tenant can apply for consent to carry out energy efficiency improvements in privately rented properties. For most landlords this will mean that they will no longer be able to rent out a property with a rating of F or G. However, there are several nuances and exceptions, and we can provide you with a full guide explaining these in full.
As 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 no SDLT 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 if 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.
With effect from 1 June 2020, Landlords in the private rented sector in England have a legal obligation ensure any electrical installation (i.e., fixed wiring, sockets, light fittings, switches, the consumer unit or fuse and protective bonding) in their rental property is inspected and tested by an approved electrician, at intervals of no more than 5 years. The report will assess if the electrics are in good working order and meet current standards, specifically British Standard 'BS 7671:2018'. Landlords must then supply a copy of this report (usually an Electrical Installation Condition Report or EICR) to existing Tenants within 28 days of the inspection and test; to a new Tenant before they occupy the premises and to any prospective Tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report. We can recommend a contractor or if we are managing the property, Godfrey & Barr can organise this.
The Landlord may be required to carry out remedial works if their property does not meet the required fixed electrical safety standards. Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the new Regulations and can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 if they find a Landlord is in breach of their duty. This guidance summarises the regulations, we can provide you with a guide explaining these in full. Further information regarding the above-mentioned regulations can also be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-Tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector. Please note the new regulations do not cover electrical appliances, only the fixed electrical installations. We recommend that landlords regularly carry out portable appliance testing (PAT) on any electrical appliance that they provide and then supply Tenants with a record of any electrical inspections carried out as good practice.
Furthermore in accordance with The (Part P) Electrical Regulations Act 2005, it should also be noted that if a Landlord is undertaking any major building or repair works, any installation or repair, (excluding minor repairs, such as replacement of switches and sockets), needs to be completed and self-certified by a qualified electrician, who is a member of either ELECSA, BSI, ECA/BRE, NAPIT or NICEIC. Alternatively Building Control at your Local Authority must oversee any installation or repair and sign such off such works upon completion.
We may charge a Tenant any or all the following when required:
A one 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.
A deposit normally equivalent to five or 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 (Tenants Deposit Scheme) if we are holding the deposit. Sometimes where a 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 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 held by us shall be retained by us. If the tenancy is not an Assured Shorthold (AST), normally when the rent is more that £100,000 per annum, 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 Landlord's instructions, and this may not provide the same level of protection to the Tenant as a deposit held under an approved deposit scheme.
Usually one month's rent in advance or as agreed between the parties.
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.
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.
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 decide on granting a tenancy. Before the tenancy can proceed, in accordance with current AML legislation you need to provide us with a photo ID in the form of a passport or EU driving licence and a further proof of address. We carry out ID checks via an associated third-party company.
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 too, 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.
It is the Tenants' responsibility to insure their own belongings throughout the tenancy.
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.
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 HMRC 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.
All charges levied by us are subject to the addition of VAT at the prevailing rate.
It is now a legal requirement for us to display on our company website a copy of the accounting rules of our company's client money protection provider. This can be found here - https://www.tenancydepositscheme.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/TDS-Letting-Agents-Membership-Scheme-Rules.pdf