Posts with tag: tips for tenants

Property Expert Advises Buyers and Renters

Published On: June 15, 2015 at 10:58 am


Categories: Property News

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Property expert Kate Faulkner gives her tips and facts on renting and buying a home.

Tenant fees

As of yesterday, all letting agents must display any fees that tenants will have to pay. If your agent has not done this, they cannot charge you.

Tenant fees vary from agency to agency, but generally include an application fee – which could increase for over one tenant – and a couple’s fee. If you have a guarantor, this will involve another fee.

Tenants may also have to pay for referencing, a contribution to the tenancy agreement and/or inventory and a tenancy renewal fee.

If you agree to a property, you will be required to pay 4-6 weeks’ rent in advance as a deposit and also pay the first month’s rent in advance.

Property Expert Advises Buyers and Renters

Property Expert Advises Buyers and Renters

Should you buy rather than rent?

Some tenants fear that they are paying more dead money in rent than they would pay on a mortgage.

If you rent and pay £500 per month, your annual rent is £6,000. If the value of the rental property is about £120,000 and you have a 5% deposit on a 95% mortgage at a 5% rate, then you are paying as much dead money in rent as you would pay in mortgage interest.

Kate’s simple calculation is to work out if your rent is 5% or less than the value of the home you rent. If it is, then the dead money paid to the landlord is the same as you would pay to the mortgage provider.

Is buying cheaper than renting?

Generally, if prices are dropping or are static, it is probably cheaper to rent than buy. The following costs presume that utility bills, Council Tax and service charges are the same:

  • Renting: One off tenant/reference fee, monthly rent, annual contents insurance and renewals.
  • Buying: One off fee for buying, the deposit, monthly mortgage repayments, annual maintenance, and building and contents insurance.

Buying a property

The biggest cost when buying a home is the deposit, which is paid at the time of exchange. A cheque must be sent to the legal firm five working days before exchange.

Deposits are typically 5% or 10% at the time of exchange, then the remaining balance is paid at completion, this could be 15% or 20% if your deposit is 25%.

Stamp Duty is usually the second highest cost, paid when you complete the purchase. This tax is not paid on properties worth less than £125,000. Read more about Stamp Duty reform here: /why-cutting-stamp-duty-could-lead-to-an-increase-in-prices/.

Lenders and brokers also charge for mortgages, but you should only be charged when you have decided on the right mortgage. Charges can be fixed and could be a few hundred pounds up to several thousand. They could be a percentage of the money you borrow, such as 1-3%. You should be aware of any fees before you confirm the mortgage.

When you exchange on a property, you must have buildings insurance in place, which will be around a few hundred pounds.

Survey fees range from £250 + VAT for a condition report, to £400 + VAT for a homebuyer report, to over £1,000 + VAT for a comprehensive building survey.

Legal fees range from around £300 + VAT to more than £1,000 + VAT for a home over £500,000. You could pay extra fees for leasehold properties or shared ownership houses. These are typically £100 + VAT.

Removal costs start from about £300 + VAT for a small move to £2,000 + VAT for moving a big home over a long distance.



Things Every Potential Renter Should Know

Published On: January 21, 2015 at 4:31 pm


Categories: Property News

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With such a large amount of people renting in the UK, it is important to remain aware of everything tenants need to know before signing a tenancy agreement.


It is important for the tenant to be fully aware of everything around the property, before moving in. Check the surroundings; is there a school near, or a nightclub? What can you hear?

Head of Consumer Research at the Citizens Advice Bureau, James Plunkett, says: “It is up to the tenant to do their own research and inspect the dwelling and surrounding area before they sign the agreement and move in.”


Plunkett advises: “Bring up pets early in negotiations with your prospective landlord.

“If the landlord does not want pets at the address, then the tenants should look elsewhere. Having a pet in breach of a tenancy agreement that prohibits pets will generally lead to a possession action and eviction further down the line.”

White goods

Tenants are advised to inspect the white goods in the rental property, and report any faults immediately after moving in.

“If white goods are including in the inventory on the agreement, then the tenant should visually inspect them and get the landlord to confirm in writing that they all work satisfactorily,” says Plunkett. “The tenant should seek clarification in writing as to whether the landlord agrees to repair or replace said items if they break down.”

He continues: “Responsibility will be determined purely by evidence of what has been agreed between the parties so it’s important to get these agreements in writing.”

Water pressure

Prospective tenants should test the water, taps and the shower, when they first look around a property. If there is a water pressure issue, then they can negotiate with the landlord before signing the contract.

Plunkett warns: “If the tenant does not comprehensively inspect the property before entering into the agreement, they may not be able to resolve these problems later.”

However, in some cases, adequate water pressure may be a landlord’s legal obligation.

Release clause

There are two things to look for in the contract to determine if it includes a release clause.

A break clause means a “fixed-term tenancy can be ended at six months,” explains Plunkett.

Tenants should read the exact wording however, to determine any conditions: “For example, that there are no existing rent arrears when the tenant wants to activate the clause.”

A release clause is very similar, however, it may involve the tenant “paying a fee to release themselves from the agreement at any time,” says Plunkett.

The tenant may also have to find someone to replace them.


Things Every Potential Renter Should Know

Things Every Potential Renter Should Know

If there are any tasks that the tenant requires before moving in, for example repainting walls, then they should be completed before moving into the property.

Plunkett explains: “The tenant can ask the landlord to do this, i.e. clean and repaint the house before you move in, but they can’t compel a landlord to do anything before a tenancy agreement is set up.”

The most important thing to remember is that these tasks should be complete before the agreement is signed and any money is paid.

“It is not uncommon for tenants to assert that promises of this kind have been broken,” says Plunkett. “And because tenants usually can’t supply evidence of the agreement, they are still liable for their tenancy and rent.”

Tenants should make the request, form an agreement, and have the task completed before making a payment.


Tenants should make a note of any defects in the property when looking through the inventory. It is also advised that photographs are taken.

Plunkett says: “Give a copy of the amended inventory to the landlord, keeping a copy for yourself.”

If the landlord has not provided an inventory, the tenant can prepare their own, and ask the landlord to sign it. Otherwise, photographs should be taken, and an independent witness should sign the document.

Payments in advance

There is no generic amount of rent to pay in advance. Landlords typically require one month’s rent in advance, however, it can be more.

The deposit amount is also at the landlord’s discretion.

Plunkett explains: “Usually landlords ask for the equivalent to one month’s rent as a deposit, but some ask for more or less than that; six weeks’ rent is also common. Some landlords do not ask for a deposit to be paid at all.”


Despite having a stable job, tenants may still need a guarantor. There is not a set income threshold to avoid having a guarantor.

“A lot of landlords insist on guarantors before any tenancy can be agreed, particularly if they feel that the tenant is on a low income,” says Plunkett. “The decision on insisting on a guarantor is down to the landlord’s perception of the risk of the tenant having difficulties paying the rent.”

Terms and conditions

If there are terms and conditions that the tenant does not agree with, these can be challenged, but it best to do this before the tenancy agreement is signed.

This can include the landlord’s repair obligations: “Many repair obligations are legal requirements, but the landlord might agree to additional repairs under the tenancy agreement.

“If the landlord will not change the disputed term or condition, the tenant should not enter into the tenancy.”


It is a legal requirement for landlords to protect their tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme.

If deposits are taken, or carried over, they must be protected in a Government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days.

The three in England and Wales are: Deposit Protection Service (Custodial and Insured), mydeposits, and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDP).

Timing is important: “Failure to protect the deposit within the set time limits means that the tenant can potentially take action by applying to court for an order.

“The order can force the landlord to either return the deposit or protect it in a scheme, and can also fine the landlord up to three times the amount of the deposit, to be paid to the tenant.”

Plunkett explains that if the landlord does not protect the deposit within 30 days, they cannot serve notice to end the tenancy, unless:

  • They return the full deposit to the tenant.
  • They return a lesser amount of the deposit, with the tenant’s approval.
  • A compensation claim by the tenant for non-compliance has been awarded or dismissed by the court, or withdrawn by the tenant, or settled.

Rent increases

If the tenancy is in a written fixed-term, for example one year, then legally, the rent cannot be increased without the tenant’s consent.

If the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), the rent can only be increased by one of three methods:

  1. The landlord suggests a rent increase and the tenant agrees to it.
  2. The written tenancy agreement states an allowance for rent increases, by a distinct formula, for example the rent rises by 5% every six months.
  3. The landlord uses a statutory procedure to raise the rent. In this situation, the tenant should seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau. A tenant can contest a rent increase this way, by appealing to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).

Renting a room

Even if the tenant only moves into a room in a house, rather than the whole property, they still have the same rights.

Plunkett explains: “A tenant in shared accommodation with other tenants and no residential landlord will have the same rights as any other AST tenant.

“They may have a sole tenancy in their name only, or could be on a joint tenancy with the other tenants.

However, things are different if the tenant’s name is not on the lease: “If a person is living with other tenants and they are not on the tenancy agreement, they will be known as an excluded occupier living at the accommodation with the permission of the other tenants, who have exclusive occupation of the whole dwelling.

“Tenants in this situation do not have any liability for rent arrears to the landlord, but they could be removed from the accommodation by the other tenants without any need for a court order.”

Agency fees

Plunkett says: “In England and Wales, an agency can charge an unlimited fee once a client has signed a contract to accept the tenancy.

“Most agencies that do charge fees will expect to be paid the equivalent of one or two weeks’ rent plus VAT. The agency can ask the client to sign an agreement promising to pay this fee and when the agency has found suitable accommodation and the client accepts it. This request is legal only if no money is paid by the client before they agree to take the property.

“In England and Wales, an agency is also allowed to charge a client for extra services it provides, but only if the client requests these services or agrees to the agency supplying them.

“For example, an agency may negotiate the terms of a tenancy agreement with a prospective landlord, draw up the agreement, and compile an inventory. The agency can ask the client to pay for this, whether or not the client finally takes up the tenancy.”

If a tenant believes they have been charged illegal fees, they should seek the Citizens Advice Bureau.

In writing

Plunkett advises: “There is no legal requirement for an inventory or survey, or even for a written tenancy agreement, so it is important tenants request these things if they are not provided.”1

The landlord must provide a gas safety certificate, and the landlord or agency must also deliver in writing the name, address, and contact details of the landlord if requested.

As a final warning, tenants are reminded to always read the tenancy agreement thoroughly.





How to Find a Good Landlord

Published On: February 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm


Categories: Landlord News

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With the buy-to-let market thriving, supply is struggling to keep up with demand. Taking this into account, tenants must be sure that they are happy with their landlord and not be rushed into taking the first available property.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) has put together a list of the top features a tenant should be looking out for from their landlord.


A recent survey from the organisation found that 96% of landlords have a good relationship with their tenants.[1] However, there are certain measures that a tenant can take before signing any agreement to make sure that relations get off to the best possible start.


  • Enquire as to whether the landlord is a member of a professional body, such as the NLA. Viable landlords should be members of organisations such as this and will therefore understand regulations regarding letting of private residential homes.
  • Ensure that the landlord provides an official Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement, which is to be signed by both parties. The AST is a contract which should outline the length of tenancy, the amount of and when rent is to be paid, and any deposit details.
  • Make sure that deposits are sufficiently protected. It is a legal requirement for landlords to protect tenants’ deposits in a Government-approved scheme. Furthermore, it is also necessary by law for landlords to inform the tenants of where and how their money has been secured. This is known as the Prescribed Information. Failure to provide this information will result in hefty fines for a landlord.
How to Find a Good Landlord

How to Find a Good Landlord



  • If one is not provided, tenants should ask for a full property inventory from their landlord. This such include all furnishings and appliances, plus service history. Once again, both parties should sign and keep a copy.
  • Ask for an up-to-date gas safety record to ensure that all gas fittings have had their required 12-month check. In addition, ensure that a registered Gas Safe registered contractor has carried out these checks.
  • Check the property has a Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is also a legal requirement and will assist in managing allowances for energy bills.
  • Obtain a list of emergency contact numbers, plumber, electrician etc., if the landlord sub-contracts work to other professionals.

Be aware of responsibilities

The chairman of the NLA, David Salusbury, said that by following the tips given, tenants can ensure a good relationship with their landlords from the infancy of their agreement. Salusbury said: “The majority of landlords and tenants get on very well and by following this advice, tenants will ensure they find a landlord who is aware of their responsibilities to their tenants.”

Landlords who are accredited by a scheme, such as one offered by the NLA, have not only proved they are well versed in the laws surrounding the private rented sector (PRS), but have also committed to ongoing development and learning.

“Ask if your landlord is a member of the NLA, or if they are NLA accredited,” advises Salusbury.[1]