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renting process

The renting process

The Property Renting Process - a guide to taking you through the renting process in the UK.

This Outlet guide has been written to help those searching for a new home to rent and has been designed to answer some of the main questions that could arise during this process. If your questions are not answered here, we would be delighted to take the time to discuss them with you in our offices, by email or by phone on 020 7287 4244.

The renting process – a summary
How much will I need to secure a rental property?
What references do I need to supply?
How do I choose a good letting agent?
What is the agent’s role?
Am I liable for the payment of council tax?
How long will my tenancy be?
What kind of tenancy agreement will be used?
Who is responsible for repairs within my rented property?
If repairs are not carried out on the property, can I stop paying rent?
What about insurance?
What about an inventory/schedule of condition?

The renting process – a summary

01 Property viewings
02 Offer submitted to letting agent and term of tenancy agreed
03 Offer accepted subject to references
04 Holding deposit paid
05 References collected
06 References agreed by agent and landlord
07 Contract signed; deposit, one month’s rent and administration charge paid
08 Check-in inventory taken
09 All utilities changed into tenant’s name
10 Move in
11 At end of tenancy, check-out inventory taken

How much will I need to secure a rental property?

Reservation fee: This is approximately two weeks’ rent.

Once you have found your perfect rental home, you’ll want to snap it up as quickly as possible, but unfortunately the process of establishing whether you are a suitable tenant may take a few days. This is because full references need to be taken to establish who you are and whether you are able to pay the rent in full each month. To prevent you losing the property to others, it is likely you will need to provide a reservation fee. This is usually equivalent to two weeks’ rent and, should you proceed to rent the property, this will normally be apllied to the security deposit for the property. Should you pull out of the agreement at this stage, you could lose this reservation fee, so make sure you are confident that this is the property for you. Should your references prove unsuitable, the fee will be returned, but you will be charged an administration fee to cover the costs of the referencing.

Security deposit: Four to six weeks’ rent.

This money is held against the possibility of damage to the property or any of its contents. Damage is determined by the condition report for the property and the inventory that will be taken at the beginning and end of your tenancy. It is therefore very important to check that you agree with everything contained within these documents. We recommend you budget for six weeks’ rent, because this is more normal these days. In compliance with the law Outlet ensures your deposit is safeguarded by the independent rental deposit scheme the Deposit Protection Service; http://www.depositprotection.com/.

Rent in advance: One month’s rent.

At the same time as paying the security deposit, you will also need to pay a full calendar month’s rent in advance.

Property administration charge:

Outlet charge the lowest property admin fee in Central London. During these harder times we realise the cost of moving can run out of control. For 2013 from February through to April there is a charge of only £50 per person! Every little really does help! Ask us to find you your new home and save precious money!

Agents will charge an administration fee to cover the costs of the contracts and other paperwork involved in your tenancy. This is usually based on the whole property, not each individual person.

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What references do I need to supply?

Before an agent can draw up the tenancy agreement, he will need to take references, including a full credit check. All Outlet letting references are handled by an outside company, but we will email you the relevant forms to be completed. These need to be returned to us within 24 hours. The details you need to provide include:

• Full name, date of birth and nationality
• Your address history for the past three years
• Proof of address such as bank statements or a utility bill; a mobile phone bill is not suitable
• Occupation: details of your salary and employer
• Bank account details from where your rent is to be paid each month
• Contact details for someone to provide a character reference
• Details of previous landlord or managing agent
• Students need to provide proof of their student status
• Tenants from overseas need to provide as many details as possible.

You will also need to show your passport. We will take a copy of this for our records.

Sometimes where references fail, it is possible to have a guarantor. A guarantor will underwrite the rent and be liable for the term of your contract should you not be able to make payment each month. We at Outlet will be happy to explain this further.

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How do I choose a good letting agent?

When looking for a property it is usually wise to choose an agent who is a member of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents). ARLA is the professional regulatory body for letting agents in the UK. The main advantages of using one of their members are:

Financial security
All members of the association are required to have professional indemnity insurance cover. And, as they must also be covered by a bonding scheme, any monies that a tenant hands over to their agent will be protected from misappropriation.

Professionalism
Members agree to abide by a Code of Practice, and are provided with a wide range of training and guidance that can help them perform their agency duties more effectively.

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What is the agent’s role?

A letting agent’s role is to help you to find a property, to provide you with all the legal paperwork to agree a tenancy and to be there to answer questions along the way.

Traditionally a letting agent will act for the landlord. However, a property cannot be rented without a tenant, so Outlet also offers free advice to their tenants while they are seeking a property, as well as during and at the end of the tenancy. With such a personal approach, we find that many of our tenants continue to use us year after year to help them find their homes.

Letting agents can also act at managing agents. A landlord may instruct the agent to take on the responsibility for overseeing the wellbeing of his property and the tenants within. If anything goes wrong or is damaged, the tenant will contact the managing agent and not the landlord. The agent will handle all questions and queries and oversee any repairs or maintenance that may be required. Should Outlet have been engaged on a let-only basis, then the landlord will be responsible for everything to do with the property once you have moved in.

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Am I liable for the payment of council tax?

The tenant will always be responsible for the payment of council tax, unless you qualify for full-time student status. It is your duty to notify your local council; details will always be provided by Outlet. Also, when you move into a property you take over the responsibility for all the utility bills (which include gas, electricity and water). All phone and internet lines will also have to be in the tenant’s name. It is important to note that if the property you are looking to rent does not have broadband already installed, it can take several months before you are connected, so you are advised to try to organise this as soon as possible. You should always seek permission from your managing agents or landlord, for any new installations, especially if the structure of the building may be affected.

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How long will my tenancy be?

Outlet offer two different types of rental: short-term, anything from one day through to six months, and the more usual twelve-month contract. We do, where possible, also negotiate longer lets of up to three years. The longer the term of your rental agreement, the greater the feeling of security and stability and the higher the likelihood of ensuring your rental payments are fixed as your landlord will be free from potential void periods between shorter tenancies.

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What kind of tenancy agreement will be used?

The most common form of tenancy agreement used is called an ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancy’ agreement (AST). This type of tenancy agreement offers the most flexibility to both landlord and tenant. It has straightforward notice procedures for bringing the tenancy to an end and a special Accelerated Possession court procedure should tenants fail to vacate. It is nationally accepted as the standard agreement, is relatively simple to follow and protects the rights of both landlord and tenant in a fairer capacity than agreements used previously.

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Who is responsible for repairs within my rented property?

If anything goes wrong in your rented home, you should contact either your landlord or your managing agent if your landlord has instructed them to act on his behalf (something you will be told at the beginning of your tenancy). Any appliance that is on the inventory at the start of the tenancy is the responsibility if the landlord or his managing agent to repair or replace. Tenants are usually responsible for breakages, but the quicker the landlord or his agents are informed of the damage, the more likely it is that costs can be minimised.

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If repairs are not carried out on the property, can I stop paying rent?

You should never stop paying rent, because you would be in direct breach of your tenancy contract and you could be taken to court. In very general terms a landlord has a legal responsibility to repair the structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters and external pipes; to keep in working order the installations for the supply of gas, electricity and water; and for the installations for the provision of space and water heating. The landlord also has other legal responsibilities relating to the safety of such items as gas, electricity and furnishings as well as the general standard or fitness of the property for habitation.

You are advised to report in writing all faults as soon as they occur. This will provide proof of the time it was reported and, should the repair be of a serious nature or be unreasonably delayed, you may be able to seek some form of compensation.

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What about insurance?

Landlords and tenants should take care to review any existing policies when renting or letting a property for the first time, as some standard insurance products will either not provide cover or might place restrictions on cover for the rented property and/or its contents.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to insure the building and its contents, fixtures and fittings. The tenants are responsible for insuring any of their own possessions. There are various specialist insurance products designed for landlords, tenants and rented property: Buildings, Contents, Legal Expenses, Emergency Repair cover, Rental Guarantee cover, etc.

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What about an inventory / Schedule of Condition?

This is an absolutely essential document that provides a written benchmark, and should be amended, updated and recreated before the beginning of each new tenancy. A properly constructed inventory / Schedule of Condition details the fixtures and fittings and describes their state and that of the property generally. Landlord and tenant often share the costs involved in preparing and checking the inventory – Such costs should be seen as a necessary investment that helps protect the interests of both landlord and tenant.

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If you have any further questions relating to any part of the renting process, we at Outlet would be more than happy to help you. Drop into our Soho offices, or give us a call for a no-obligation, friendly and professional chat on 020 7287 4244. Or, if you prefer, drop us an email.

We also have a free ‘Notes for tenants’ document, which lists all of the above, plus other matters concerning renting a property through Outlet. It can be downloaded as a PDF here.

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