A Tenant’s Guide to Residential Lettings

Here at Stella Lange LLP, we wish your rental experience to go as smoothly as possible from start to finish, so we have compiled the following guide to help steer you through the rental process. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to telephone our office on +44 (0)20 7794 4821 or email us at info@stellalange.co.uk.

Before you start looking

Set yourself a lettings brief, including:

  • Monthly budget to include rent, heating, water and council tax
  • How long you want to rent for
  • Commute distances to available transport and to work
  • What amenities would you like close by (schools, shops, parks, restaurants)

What to ask at a viewing

  • What bills are payable in addition to the rent?
  • Which government approved tenancy deposit scheme will your deposit be secured with?
  • What is the local area like?
  • Who manages the property and who to call in case of emergencies?

Your references

Once a rent has been agreed, the Landlord will want to ensure you or a guarantor can pay the rent, therefore, please have suitable referees ready to confirm your ability to meet the commitment.

Individuals

  • Bank
  • Employment
  • Previous Landlord (if applicable)
  • Accountant (if applicable)
  • Character (if applicable)

Companies

  • Accountant
  • Bank (If applicable)
  • Accounts

In the event of an individual / company acting as Guarantor for the Tenant the above reference rules also apply.

Reservation Fee

You will be asked to pay a reservation fee. This includes the referencing of up to 2 tenants and the negotiating and preparing of your share of the Tenancy Agreement.

Right To Rent

You will be asked to provide two forms of identification, one photographic such as your passport or driving licence and another to confirm your current address such as a utility bill or bank statement.

By law, landlords must ensure that any tenant has the ‘Right to Reside’ in the UK. You will be asked for the appropriate forms of identification.

Deposits

Reservation Fee

Once an offer has been agreed, subject-to-contract and references, it is normal practice for a reservation fee of two weeks rent in respect of the proposed tenancy. This deposit does not constitute a formal tenancy for the property nor does it secure the accommodation.

Should you withdraw from the transaction prior to the completion of a formal tenancy, the reservation fee or part of it may be retained in respect of administration charges or loss of rental income.

Should the Landlord decide not to proceed with the tenancy, then the reservation fee will be refunded in full.

 

Security Deposit

A security deposit usually equal to six weeks rent will be held for the duration of the tenancy by either the Landlord or Agent against damages, dilapidations, missing items etc or if cleaning is required at the property. If pets are to be included in the tenancy, then an additional two week deposit may be required.

If the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), the most common form of tenancy in England and Wales, then your deposit will be subject to the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDPS). This is a government approved scheme that requires by law that the tenant’s deposit is protected by either an insurance based scheme or a custodial scheme. The landlord or letting agent can hold the deposit and register it with an insured scheme or pass it on to a custodial scheme to hold. If Stella Lange LLP is asked to hold the deposit, it will be registered with an insurance based scheme of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). The deposit will be covered by the Client Money Protection Scheme – NFoPP reference number C0008227, which is an insurance scheme that covers any money handled by the letting agent. If your tenancy is a Non Housing Act agreement, then the above does not apply.

Tenancy Agreement

The Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding document between the Landlord and the Tenant that states the property address, commencement and termination date, length of term, amount of rental and rights and responsibilities of both parties. It is important that you read the document carefully and revert to us with anything that you do not understand or require clarification on. You should consider asking a solicitor to check the document on your behalf. Any amendments or additions which you request will need approval from the landlord and in some cases by the mortgagees and the superior landlord.

Stamp Duty and Land Tax

Stamp Duty Land Tax means the tax payable (if applicable) to the Stamp Office on the signing of this Agreement by the Tenant, if the Rent after discount exceeds the threshold. Further information can be obtained from the Inland Revenue website on https://www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax/overview

Utilities

At the commencement of the tenancy, you will be required to transfer the electricity, gas, water and telephone in to your name. You may need to pay a deposit to the utility companies concerned, unless you have been an account holder before.

Council Tax

You will be obliged to pay the Council Tax, which is levied on the property by the local authority and in this regard, you must notify the local authority to forward all demands directly to you.

Inventory

The Landlord is responsible for providing an inventory and schedule of condition at the commencement of your tenancy. This is usually prepared by an independent inventory clerk. You will be given a maximum of 7 days from receipt of the document in which to check the inventory and to bring to our attention any discrepancies which you may find. At the end of the tenancy, the inventory will be checked out by the inventory clerk and a report prepared as to the condition of the property. This is a cost to you, the tenant.

TV Licence

You are responsible for obtaining a TV Licence regardless of whether a television is provided by you or the Landlord.

Initial Payment

The first rental instalment, deposit and tenancy agreement costs must be received by us in cleared funds by no later than the commencement date of the tenancy, failing which you will not be allowed into occupation. If you intend paying by cheque, then you must allow at least 8 working days for the cheque to clear. Only cheques drawn on a UK clearing bank will be accepted.

Insurance

The Landlord is responsible for insuring the building and any furniture, fittings and effects provided by the Landlord. The Landlord is not responsible for insuring your own furniture or possessions and we therefore strongly advise you to insure your own effects.

Point of Contact

If we are not managing the property, contact details will be given for your landlord/ managing agent. If we are managing the property, you will be given dedicated contact details to assist you with any issues or queries.

How to Rent

You will be given a copy of the government guidelines as a checklist. This guide will help you to understand some of your important rights and what responsibilities you have.