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Renting

Money up Front
Have your references ready for the agent as well as any deposits required. This will avoid holdups and allow your application to be processed as quickly as possible. Find out what is included in the initial monies and arrange to have that amount available. You will not be able to start your tenancy without theses things.

Inventory check
Arrange a time and date to sign the tenancy agreement, all tenants must have signed this before you can move in.

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.

Find out if there are any restrictions governing amendments to the property (such as redecoration).


Agents Role
The agent will have certain obligations these may vary from simply letting the property to letting and managing the property. Find out what the agents responsibilities are, if they are simply responsible for letting the building, find out who is responsible for managing and maintaining the property.

The agent will make regular checks on the property, arrange a mutual convenient time for these checks and make a note of it.


Looking after the Place
Responsibity for the property rests with you, the tenant. You will be responsible for making sure the building is secure and reporting any gas or electrical problems. If the property is leasehold you will also be bound by any rules and regulations affecting all residence within the block contained in the head lease.

Once you have signed ask for copies of all relevant safety certificates, gas and electric, keep all your documents (such as insurance policies, copy of tenancy agreement, safety certificates and inventory) together in a file. Keep this file in a safe place.


Get yourself connected
After you have signed the tenancy agreement but before you move in, contact your service providers (gas, electricity, telephone). You may be required to pay a deposit before they will connect you. It is also worth noting that BT carry out a credit check on customers before activating a line. Once you have moved in, make sure that you take meter readings and inform the relevant utility companies. You should also take a reading and inform the relevant companies when you move out.

Your Responsibilities
As a tenant, amongst other things, you will be responsible for providing a TV License, (regardless whether the TV is owned by the landlord or not)

  • Paying Council Tax direct to the local authority
  • Maintaining the terms of your tenancy agreement.
  • Payment of utilities as agreed with your landlord.
  • Other things that you should bear in mind are;
  • Insuring your possessions
  • Informing the Police if there is a break-in or burglary
  • Types of Tenancies

    Assured Shorthold Tenancies
    An assured shorthold tenancy is a type of assured tenancy that gives more rights to the landlord when he wants his property back, most new lettings entered into after February 28 1997 will automatically be assured shorthold.

    The assured shorthold tenancy is now the most common form of tenancy used in the private renting sector. It only provides the tenant security of tenure for the duration of the agreed term, and after that the landlord may ask for the property back.

    At the end of the fixed term the landlord can grant the tenant another assured shorthold tenancy agreement for a fixed term or a periodic tenancy may be agreed, or, if he wants the property vacated he should give the tenant at least two months written notice to leave.

    An Assured Shorthold Tenancy will have the rent fixed for the length of the term and the landlord will not be able to increase it unless it has been written into a contract. The tenant has the right to apply to the rent assessment committee for it to set a market rent during the first fixed term if he feels the rent is to high.

    Assured Tenancies
    A few lettings entered into after 15 January 1989 are assured tenancies and can be either fixed term or contractual periodic, these tenancies have no right to a fixed fair rent and can be created by either a written or verbal agreement. Fixed Term means that an agreement is entered into between the landlord and tenant for a fixed period of time, this could be months or years. Contractual periodic tenancies can run on for an indefinite period on a weekly or other periodic basis, the tenant will have long term security of tenure and does not have to move unless he wants to, or, if the landlord can prove in Court that he has grounds for gaining possession. An assured tenancy should be the tenant's only or main home.

    Resident Landlords
    A tenancy where there is a resident landlord is expressly excluded from being an assured or assured shorthold tenancy by The Housing Act 1988 (Schedule 1 (10)). A landlord is considered to be the resident not only if he is living in the same property as his tenant but also, for the purpose of the Housing Act. If the landlord is living in the same building as his tenant unless the two properties are contained in a purpose built block of flats this means that if a property has been divided into two or more self contained units or a granny annex has been added and the landlord lives in one of the units as his only or principal home it is likely that he will be considered a resident landlord and precluded from setting up an assured or assured shorthold tenancy. In situations where there is a resident landlord it is important that the notice period for ending the tenancy is agreed at the start of the tenancy as neither the provisions contained in The Housing Act 1988 or the protection for the Eviction Act will apply.

    General

    Rent
    Rent is the money paid to your landlord in return for the right to occupy his property. It can be paid weekly fortnightly or monthly as agreed between your landlord and yourself. If you pay your rent weekly you are entitled to a rent book, this must have the name and address of your landlord or agent on it and it must be provided by them. If you have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy you must agree a level of rent at the start of the tenancy as this level cannot be changed between the fixed term of the agreement. In the case of an assured shorthold tenancy the rent must be set at a market level. Once the fixed term comes to an end the landlord may wish to increase the rent, in order to do this he must give you a months notice and serve you with a Section 13 notice which states: -
  • The proposed new rent
  • The date it should take effect
  • Your rights as a tenant in relation to the procedure.
  • If you disagree with the rent increase and you are unable to negotiate a mutual level with your landlord, then you can apply to the RAC (Rent Assessment Committee). This must be done within 28 days, the RAC will decide what reasonable rent the landlord could expect for the property and set a reasonable market rent if you have an assured tenancy with a rent review clause stating how and when the rent will be reviewed you and your landlord cannot apply to the RAC.

    Repairs
    In lettings of less than 7 years the landlord is responsible for the repairs to the structure and exterior of the buildings, basins, sinks, baths, toilets and heating. The tenant must allow the landlord or his agent access in order to carry out necessary works. However, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice that access will be required. The tenant should use the property in a responsible way and under The Rent Act 1977, The Housing Act 1985 and The Housing Act 1988 the landlord can seek possession if the tenant or someone living with him/her has damaged the property. The tenant should get written permission from a landlord before making any alterations to the property.

    Harassment
    All tenants are entitled to live safely and peacefully in their homes and harassment by your landlord or a person instructed by your landlord is an offence.

    Harassment can be in several different forms some of which are listed below: -

  • Entering your home without prior notification
  • Changing the locks
  • Cutting off your utilities, such as Gas, Water and
    Electricity.
  • Tampering with your mail or possessions.
  • Threatening you verbally or physically.
  • Keep a record of any instances when harassment has occurred, names of witnesses or anyone who may have become involved, Doctors, Police, etc. Also get advice from your local council as soon as possible as they may be able to advise or help you further.

    Illegal Eviction
    Landlords must follow the correct legal procedure to evict a tenant in most cases this involves serving a notice requiring possession. Most rent paying tenants are protected from illegal conviction and harassment by their landlords in the protection from The Eviction Act 1977 and The Housing Act 1988. However, if you have been illegally evicted you should seek legal advice. You have the right to apply for a Court Injunction to be allowed back into your home and your landlord can be liable for an unlimited fine and - or two years imprisonment. The landlord can evict you if he can prove to a Court that the one of the mandatory grounds for possession is satisfied.
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