Advice on tenants Rights

This information is given for general guidance only and should therefore not be relied on. It has been prepared by an experienced letting agent operating in the UK market.

Make sure you have details ready of who is going to provide your references (for example, employers, previous landlord or agent, bank account etc) It is normal these days that if you are renting via an Agents that they will use a Credit Search Company. They will normally make a charge per applicant for this search.

Credit Search Companies normally work on 30 X rent. e.g. rental of £650 pcm X 30 = £19,500 (applicant must earn this amount per annum Ė if not a guarantor might have to be used) * The credit search company reserves the right to charge for a Guarantorís reference in addition and this will be charged out at the normal applicant rate.

HOLDING DEPOSIT

If you are paying a 'reservation' or 'holding' deposit whilst your application for a tenancy is processed, make sure you get a receipt and a Holding Deposit Agreement from the Agent that sets out the terms of this initial deposit and any circumstances under which you may or may not get your money back.

RENT

Rent is usually paid a calendar month in advance. The first payment will be made by bankers draft/building society cheque (not a personal one) and or Part Cash. Because of money laundering regulations most Agents are only able to accept a maximum of £500 in cash. Subsequent payments are normally made by standing order or the Agent or Landlord. If the payment of rent is late, interest is payable as shown in the Tenancy Agreement.

DEPOSIT & INVENTORY

A deposit equivalent to approximately 6 weeks rent will normally be required to settle any claim for dilapidations, or any other breach of the tenancy agreement, which may arise, during the tenancy or at the termination of the tenancy. The deposit will be held by the Agents or the Landlord. If the Landlord is holding it, you should ensure that it is held in a separate bank account, as it is your money and not the Landlordís.

Make sure that you are present to check the inventory when you move in and out of the property so that you can agree to any amendments. We recommend that you keep a signed copy of both the checking in and checking out inventory. This document will form the basis of any compensations claimed against you by the landlord. 

TENANCY AGREEMENT

When the Agents have received acceptable references after consultation with the Landlord, a Tenancy Agreement will be prepared for the Tenantís signature. The cost. Release Clauses are not normally incorporated in a Tenancy Agreement so if you want a Release Clause, you must agree this before you sign up.

Before you arrange a date and time to sign the tenancy agreement, make sure that you (all tenants) have seen a copy and read it through, so that everyone understands their obligations. Ask questions to clarify anything that you are unclear on. All tenants must sign the tenancy agreement before they can move in. ONCE YOU HAVE SIGNED... 
Keep all your documents (such as insurance policy, copy of tenancy agreement and inventory) together in a file. Keep this file in a safe place

GAS- ELECTRICITY-TELEPHONE (SERVICES)

It is normally a condition of the Tenancy that the services (i.e. electricity, gas and telephone) are transferred into the Tenantís name for the duration of the Tenancy. If you require the telephone service you will need to contact British Telecom or service provider direct. In some instances, a deposit may be requested from the relevant Companies

COUNCIL TAX/WATER CHARGES/TV LICENSE

Tenants will normally be responsible for the payment of the Council Tax for the property they are renting and will pay this direct to the Local Authority. They must also advise the Local Authority when they move in/out of a rented property. 

Leaflets on Council Tax should be available from the Registration Officer at the Council together with information on rebates etc. A 25% discount is usually available on Council Tax for single occupancy. It is the responsibility of the tenant to pay for a TV License in respect of the property they are renting. In most cases water charges are now paid for by Tenants in renting a property

Water  - Water Industry Act 1991 Ė Information about water meters for home movers.

Since 1989, most new homes built in England and Wales have had a water meter installed. In addition to this, many water company customers previously on a non-metered supply have opted for water meter.

Since 1st April 2002 companies like Three Valleys Water Plc in England have been installing water meters when a property is sold. From the 1st January 2005 this company will also be installing meters when a property is rented out.

The government act covering this is under S1444B of the Water Industry Act 1991.

Tenants must insure their own possessions, as this is not the Landlords responsibility. You can also arrange this yourself on line
. Because of the Regulations on the sales of Landlords & Tenants insurance policies no advice can be given and you must contact Letsure, Homelet or any other provider for advice on policies.

STAMP
DUTY ON TENANCY AGREEMENTS

From the 1st December 2003, Stamp Duty has been abolished and replaced with Stamp Duty Land Tax. The starting point for this is £125,000.(UK Budget March 2006)This means that the vast majority of Tenancy Agreements will not attract SDLT.

SAFETY CERTIFICATES

Make sure that you are provided with a Landlords Gas Safety certificate and if you are renting a furnished property that the furniture has fire safety labels on it (arm chairs, beds, cushions etc) and that a note is made on the inventory to that effect. The Landlord must also make sure that electrical wiring and appliances are safe.

LETTING AGENTS 

Many agents belong to professional organisations:

        (Association of Residential Letting Agents) 

         (National Approved Letting scheme) 

          (National Association of Estate Agents) or

         (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors)

The agent will have certain obligations but these may vary from simply letting the property to letting and managing the property. Find out what the agent's responsibilities are. If they are simply responsible for letting the building, find out who is responsible for managing/ maintaining the property. 
The agent will make regular checks on the property. Arrange a mutually convenient time for these checks and make a note of it.