Whether you are a first time renter, or a lettings pro, you can always learn more to protect yourself, and your money while renting.
Below are some of the questions we are frequently asked by our prospective or insitu tenants;
1 – What happens if someone else applies for the same property as me?
When a property is very popular we do occasionally end up in the position of having multiple applications for one property. In this case we ask you to move as quickly as possible in getting the requested documents and information to us, as this makes a fast decision from the landlord more likely. We would then present all relevant information for all applications to the landlord for their decision. Once a decision has been made we will inform all parties involved and return any fees to the unsuccessful applicants.
2 – What do I need to pay to move into a property?
All applications carry an application fee, however this varies depending on your individual circumstances. Please click here to see a basic list of Belvoir St Albans’s tenant fees. Other fees may be required, should your application differ, but these will be explained and discussed with yourselves upon application. You will also be required to pay the first month’s rent and the deposit (usually equal to between 4-6 weeks rent) before the keys are released.
3 – What do I need to provide to be able to rent a property?
To pass our required criteria you will need to;
- Pass a positive credit check,
- Have a positive employment or accountant reference,
- Have a positive previous landlord reference (if applicable),
- Provide proof of ID,
- Provide proof of your ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK,
- Provide two proofs of your current address.
4 – Do I need a guarantor?
This is really dependent on your situation, possible reasons for needing a guarantor are;
- Poor credit history (small previous CCJs may be accepted if a guarantor can be provided),
- Previous satisfied bankruptcy,
- Low income,
- Temporary employment contract,
If you are unsure if you require a guarantor for your application then please contact the office for further advice.
5 – What is a guarantor?
A guarantor is an individual who has agreed to ‘guarantee’ the tenancy and tenant(s), this is usually a friend of family member. They are equally liable for the rental income and obligations of the tenancy and they are also required to sign the agreement to this affect. A guarantor must pass all the same referencing criteria as the tenant, in order to be accepted as a suitable guarantor.
6 – What is a tenancy agreement?
A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant. This is a legally binding document that sets out the requirements and obligations of both parties. Any negotiated and agreed upon terms must be included in the agreement prior to signing, for example, the agreed duration of the tenancy. Belvoir St Albans’s legal team have created fair and balanced agreements that clearly state any responsibilities or each party during tenancy.
7 – What does ‘joint and severally liable’ mean?
Unless otherwise agreed upon, if there is more than one adult tenant living at the property, the contract will specify that they are ‘joint and severally liable’. This means that, jointly, the tenants are responsible for all rents and obligations to the property and the tenancy, as set forth in the agreement. Whilst also meaning that each tenant is also individually responsible for all rental payments and liabilities and obligations set forth in the agreement. Basically, should one person vacate or abandon the property, for example, the remaining tenant is still liable for all full payments and other responsibilities, regardless of them now living there alone.
8 – Is my deposit safe?
By law, your landlord or agent must register your deposit within 14 days of your tenancy starting, to a regulated tenancy deposit scheme. You can request a certificate proving this to be provided. It is most common for a deposit equalling between 4 and 6 weeks rent to be requested, although this can vary from property to property. This will be held against your tenancy and can be used most commonly for repairs of damages that have been caused to the property or rental arrears; other possible uses of your deposit will be listed in your tenancy agreement. Belvoir St Albans is registered with DPS registration schemes.
9 – Can the landlord increase my rent?
Yes, usually the rent can be increased annually, whilst an existing tenancy is on-going, this is usually only a small amount of between 2% and 5% of the current rental income. However, should any new tenancy be entered into a landlord is within his rights to request an increased rent at this time also.
10 – Something has broken in my property, who is responsible for fixing it?
This, again, varies from situation to situation. We ask our tenants to first look at the issue in terms of ‘if this was my property how would this be repaired?’ For example, if you owned a house and the light bulb blew, you would not pay for an electrician to come change the bulb for you, so why would a landlord be required to do this? For small issues, if you are able to simply repair them, then please go ahead, so long as the works do not cause any further damage. We've included some handy guides on basic maintenance issues you may face in our tenant pages. For issues you are unable to repair or large property problems please call your landlord or agent as a matter of urgency. At Belvoir St Albans we work with a team of reliable and skilled engineers for each area of property maintenance and we will endeavour to have someone attend to your problem as soon as possible, based on an urgency of repair basis.
Please be aware that should any issue or breakdown be caused intentionally by a tenant, or through tenant negligence, you could be liable for the cost of the contractor to repair the problem. For example, if a sink has been blocked due to misuse and waste being disposed of incorrectly, then this is tenant negligence.
For some helpful and handy guides on the little things you might be able to repair yourself, head over to our maintenance tips page.
11 – Can I decorate or make changes to the property?
Always ask first! Never make any changes to the property without prior written consent from the landlord. Please me mindful that landlord’s may request you return the property to its previous state before you vacate.
12 – Is my landlord allowed to enter the property?
Landlords and agents will generally require access to the property periodically, to carry out maintenance works or general property inspections. However, they are required to provide the tenant with 24 hours written notice of their upcoming visit. Should a tenant refuse access the landlord or agent, does not have the right to enter the property without prior permission.
The only exception to this, is if access is required on an urgent or emergency basis, and if waiting the required time would be negligent to the property, tenant or landlord – for example to repair a large leak.
13 – My fixed term tenancy is ending, how can I stay in the property?
There are two options for staying on at the property; periodic or a new fixed term agreement.
Contact your landlord or agent to discuss which option is best for you. A rolling periodic agreement would mean that you have no fixed period set to stay at the property, but you are still contractually bound to all previous obligations and expectations as set forth in your original tenancy agreement. Whilst you are still need to provide the required notice period (usually of two months) to vacate, this can be done virtually at any time. The main difference between this and the fixed term agreement is that a landlord also has the ability to serve a notice to vacate on yourselves. This is however, unlikely to occur if there has been no issues during the tenancy. If you would prefer to re-sign into another fixed term agreement this can be done, but will carry a fee for the administration work required for re-signing.
14 – What happens if the landlord wants my property back?
If a landlord wishes to serve notice on his tenant, his has obligations and rules as to what he is allowed to do, the same as tenants do. A landlord cannot lawfully force tenants to move out during a fixed term tenancy, however they are able to serve a notice requiring possession of the property at the end of a fixed term agreement, or whilst the tenant is on a periodic (monthly rolling) contract. This varies from a one month to a two month required notice, depending on the agreement you have signed initially.
15 – What happens if I want to leave the property?
Firstly, this depends whether you are in a fixed term agreement or on a period (monthly rolling) contract.
Whilst you cannot legally leave your fixed term contract earlier than originally agreed, you can request to vacate the property earlier. This is subject to a landlord’s approval, and usually involves compensation for additional costs and work required to let the property early. You are also still liable for the rent and all obligations set forth in your agreement until a new tenant is found, or your fixed term agreement comes to an end, whichever is first.
If you are on a periodic contract, or coming up to the end of your fixed term, you are able to serve your notice to vacate. Check your documents, a two month notice is usually required, but this can vary from property to property. Please ensure you serve your notice correctly and in line with your tenancy dates. If you are unsure of anything, make sure you speak to your agent or landlord as early as possible to avoid any mistakes.
16 – How do I serve my notice to vacate?
Firstly, check your most recent tenancy agreement – here you will be able to find your required notice period (usually two months). The notice will need to be served in line with your tenancy dates.
For example if your tenancy start date was the 10th of the month your notice MUST be served before the 10th, 2 months before you wish to leave.
E.G. – notice served 9th June. A two month notice period would run from 10th June – 9th July (month one) and 10th July – 9th August (month two) meaning you last day at the property would be the 9th August.
E.G. – if served incorrectly - notice served 12th June (has now missed the tenancy start date) a two months’ notice would run from 10th July – 9th August (month one) 10th August – 9th September (month two) meaning your last day in the property would be the 9th September.
17 – How do I get my deposit back?
At the end of your tenancy you will be required to leave the property in a clean and tidy state, and in the same condition as it was when you moved in, according to the inventory you were provided with at move in. General wear and tear can be taken into account, relative to the length of time you have been in the property. On your last day or shortly after, once you have returned all the keys, we will carry out an inspection of the property, in comparison to the inventory. If no claims are to be made your deposit will be returned within 10 working days of the final inspection. If claims are being made against your deposit you will be notified of this, and quotes will be obtained for the required works. Once these have been received we will inform you of the cost of the claims and how much is to be returned to you. Once you confirm receipt of this information we will process the refund, which should again, reach you within ten working days.