A Tenants Guide to Renting a Property | Peter Heron

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Tenants Guide / FAQ

Finding a Property to Rent

Whether you have rented before or this is your first time when you rent a home there is a lot to think about.

  • Does the property meet my needs?
  • Cost – How much is the rent and will you need to pay extra for bills?
  • Location – is the property close to local amenities i.e. shops, doctors, schools etc.
  • Size – will the property accommodate your needs? i.e. no. of bedrooms or garden

What type of length of tenancy should you have?

If the rent is less than £25,000 per year and you do not live with the Landlord the tenancy automatically becomes an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). An AST usually lasts for 6 to 12 months unless you agree a fixed term for the tenancy in advance with the Landlord.

What happens at the end of my tenancy?

When the fixed term of the tenancy has expired, the landlord is able to gain back possession of the property provided they give two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if you owe at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent the landlord can ask you to leave.

What can I afford?

Before you even look at a property work out what you can afford by looking at what your basic outgoings are likely to be. For instance:

  • £_______ Monthly rent plus tenant fees
  • £_______ The deposit and any maintenance costs
  • £_______ Council Tax
  • £_______ Water rates, gas, electricity and telephone charges
  • £_______ TV Licence
  • £_______ Insurance for all your belongings
  • £_______ TOTAL

Role of the Letting Agent

Most people find a place to rent by looking in the local press, on property websites or local agents. However, if you find a property to rent it will be managed either directly by the Landlord or more usually by a letting agent.

Remember the Letting Agent is acting for the landlord and has no contractual duty to you. Check if the agent is ‘sole agent’ if not other agents may be trying to let the same property. 

Agreeing the Let

Once you have found a property, before you sign anything you should:

  • Check the property – is it clean, is it well maintained, is anything broken?
  • Find out if it is furnished or unfurnished
  • Ask about any management and maintenance costs
  • Find out what your responsibilities are such as cleaning, garden maintenance or replacing broken items

Insurance

Protect your rental payments, lifestyle outgoings and contents:

As a tenant, your landlord cannot be responsible for insuring your possessions, and as someone who has a financial commitment to pay rent for your home, not to mention regular household bills, you may also be concerned about what would happen if you lost your income.

  • How would you pay your rent and monthly bills?
  • How long could you live on your savings?
  • What would happen when your savings ran out?

Our partners Mortgage Advice Bureau can arrange cover for your contents, as well as cover in case of accident, sickness or unemployment, and it may be simpler and more affordable than you’d expect.

Health and Safety requirements

You should get assurances or certificates from the landlord that the property complies with these regulations:

  • Furniture and Furnishings (Fire & Safety Regulations 1988 amended in 1993)
  • Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
  • Smoke Detectors Act 1991 (if the property doesn’t have smoke alarms ask if they can be installed)
  • Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

References

Once you have found a property you will need to agree the terms and conditions with the landlord. You will need to supply the landlord with relevant information and ensure you sign the necessary paperwork.

Before you sign anything the landlord or agent should provide you with a clear statement of rent, tenancy, deposit and a refundable Holding Deposit. The letting agent will get the reference by contacting either:

  • Your bank
  • Credit referencing agencies
  • Current and previous employer(s)
  • Current and previous landlord(s)

Even if someone is going to be your guarantor you will still need references. If you are self-employed you may need to provide copies of trading accounts and an accountant's reference.

Tenancy Agreement and Deposit

Once the letting agent and landlord are happy with your references you will be asked to sign a tenancy agreement. Before signing read it thoroughly and check the paperwork mentions the following important points:

  • Length of tenancy
  • How often and when to pay the rent
  • What the deposit is
  • How the money will be held.
  • Is your deposit covered by Tenancy Deposit Protection? Under new legislation a landlord is required to ensure that deposits they hold are covered under a scheme from 6 April 2007. RICS members are qualified to join the Tenancy Deposit Scheme for Regulated Agents which ensures that your deposit is protected during the tenancy and that any dispute over its return will be resolved quickly and independently without any future cost.
  • How you will get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy
  • Your landlord must by law give you an address in England and Wales for serving your notice
  • Whether gas electricity and other services have been connected and that meters have been read
  • You will not be discriminated against because of sex, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, marital status or disability

Moving In

You will not be able to move in until you have paid your deposit and the first month's rent. Once this has been done don’t forget a few important things:

  • Insure your own belongings at the property
  • Make sure all equipment works and you have their manuals
  • Find out the telephone numbers of the various emergency maintenance services
  • Tell your gas, electricity, water and telephone companies the day you move in making your own note of the meter readings
  • Speak to your local authority if you are responsible for Council Tax

Looking after your rented property

Return the property to the landlord at the end of the tenancy in the same condition as at the start allowing for fair wear and tear. Remember if you are away:

  • You will need to pay the rent on the right date
  • You are responsible for the property’s security
  • Make sure the property is not damaged by weather
  • Let your insurer and your landlord know so insurance arrangements can be made
  • Give emergency contact details to the landlord

Tenants FAQs

How can I find a property to rent?

We have a broad range of properties to let whether you are looking for a city apartment or a family home we can help you find somewhere to rent. When you choose Peter Heron you are choosing an agent who will offer you the highest standards in the property renting industry as well as professionalism and commitment to customer service, ensuring your property rental runs smoothly.

How do I arrange to view a property?

Contact our specialist rental advisors at either our Sunderland City Centre or Fulwell branch. If you are not already registered with us we will take your particulars and note your property requirements. We will then arrange a mutually convenient time to accompany you to the property with an experienced member of our lettings team.

What’s the application procedure?

Firstly, you will need to complete our application form. Check you meet the referencing criteria:

  • Be in full time employment with no more than a 2 week gap between different employees in the last 6 months
  • Have been a resident in the UK for the past 3 years
  • Be earning 2.5 times the monthly rental
  • Provide either your driving licence (photo edition) or Passport and a current utility bill

Am I allowed to keep pets?

Only with the consent of the landlord. Permission must be sought prior to the commencement of the tenancy. If the landlord gives consent, Peter Heron acting as agent for the landlord reserve the right to increase the amount of the rent and this is agreed with the tenant prior to an application. A special clause will be entered in to the Tenancy Agreement to cover the Tenants additional obligations.

Who is responsible for contacting the utility companies after I move in?

The utility firms will need you as a tenant to setup your account with them directly and to contact them again when you leave, taking care to provide meter readings.

When will the rent leave my account?

Generally rent is paid by a standing order mandate and will leave your account 3 days prior to the rental due date in order to be in the recipients account on the due date (The due date is typically although not always the date on which you moved in)

What happens if my rent is paid late?

Any problems with late rental payments should be conveyed to Peter Heron. Arrears letters will be issued if rent remains outstanding beyond 5 days after it was due. 

How often can the rent be put up?

In general terms rent of an existing tenancy can only be increased once every twelve months. Where an Assured Shorthold Tenancy holds over as a statutory periodic tenancy a specific prescribed form (A section 13 notice) will be used to notify tenants of a proposed increase in the rent.

Can I move someone else in?

You have to get the landlords agreement for the person you suggest to move into the property. The landlord may want to take up references for them. The landlord will give the new person their own tenancy or licence agreement.

If I have any problems during my tenancy who do I speak to?

This depends on whether or not your property is fully managed by Peter Heron. Contact your Peter Heron lettings advisor if the property is fully managed by Peter Heron or the landlord directly if it isn't.

Who should I contact if I am having difficulty with my landlord?

Feel free to contact Peter Heron but ultimately seeking some independent advice would be recommended. The Citizens Advice Bureau is a good place to start.

If I want to serve notice to vacate what should I do?

Notice would need to be served in accordance with your particular lease agreement by recorded delivery to Peter Heron. The law around ending a tenancy is relatively straightforward as long as the right timescales and procedures are followed along with the use of the correct format of notice. It is recommended that you end your agreement properly if you want to leave. If you don’t you may still be liable to pay rent even after you’ve moved out.

What penalties will I incur should I break my lease agreement early?

The primary liability is for rent until the end of the contract or its break clause point. If the landlord agrees to find a new tenant then your liability will be reduced to covering the landlords commission and any other expenses from when the property is re-let. Payments would be calculated on a pro-rata basis for the unexpired term of the contract.

How will my payments cease at the end of my tenancy?

You should contact your bank directly to cancel your standing order once the last payment has left your account.

Where should I return my keys at the lease end?

Unless specific instructions are given by your landlord keys should be taken to Peter Heron at either our Sunderland City Centre or Fulwell branch. Please ensure all sets are returned, a receipt is obtained and that this happens on or before the last day of your tenancy.

Please note that you will be liable for rent on a daily basis until the keys are returned.

When is my deposit returned to me?

The deposit will be held by Peter Heron in our own client’s account, the deposit and the tenancy details will be registered with The Dispute Service under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and a certificate/unique number will be issued to show registration to the scheme, this will then be provided to both Landlord and Tenant.

Once the check-out has been conducted, the property has been cleaned to a satisfactory standard and Peter Heron has received instructions regarding the deposit from the Landlord, the money will be returned to your account.

This usually takes no more than 28 days.