THE RENTING PROCESS
The Renting Process
Renting a home is a relatively straightforward process, but it’s important to prepare all the necessary information to make the process easier and, in today’s competitive lettings market, make sure that you are presenting yourself in the best possible light compared with other potential tenants for your dream home.
Once an offer has been accepted, there are a number of items of information you will need to provide in order to be able to satisfy the Landlord that you are a suitable tenant for their property. If you have a basic understanding of these requirements it can make the process less stressful. We have created a helpful summary. Simply scroll down for an overview of each of the stages.
Many people start looking for a property (sometimes they find one too) without really knowing their budget. Having a rough idea is fine, but it’s important to work out exactly how much you can afford. Make sure you spend some time working out your budget based on your current monthly outgoings. You will need to factor in the amount needed to secure the property you want, plus the deposit required by the Landlord.
Searching for a property is always a process of compromise. You will never find that 10/10 property, because it simply doesn’t exist. Our process encourages people to work out what search criteria are ‘musts’ and which are ‘wants’ and to use this in their search.
You will only know difference between the two when you have seen some homes and made a value judgement on which criteria is essential and which would be nice to have. Make sure you remember to be open minded about the properties which come to the market; quite often your criteria will change over time and you may end up offering on a completely different property to the one which you imagined when you first started your search!
If you are a couple or a family, make sure you communicate with each other and be honest about the homes you see. Without this, the search process can take much longer and you may miss out on the right home. We’ve handled hundreds of lets over the years and are well placed to offer honest, open advice.
When looking for an agent you may wish to concentrate first and foremost on looking for an ARLA (The Association of Residential Lettings Agents) registered letting agent. This will be an agent that is governed by the UK’s professional body for letting agents that was set up in 1981 in order to regulate the lettings process in the UK. All of their members follow a strict code of practice. Although it is not compulsory for a letting agent to register with ARLA, as a consumer it does offer some reassurance. To see more on the organisation and the benefits of using an ARLA registered agent see www.arla.co.uk/about-arla.aspx. Ivy Gate is proud to be registered with ARLA, and one of our Directors has been a prominent member for over 12 years.
When you have chosen the right property for you, it’s time to make an offer. It’s important for you to have some information ready to help us with your tenancy application. Call or email us with as much information as possible. This helps to put the offer in the best possible light to our client.
Once your offer has been accepted, a reservation fee is required in order for us to take the property off the market. We will then begin the process of referencing. Please be aware that your Landlord does not have to protect against a reservation fee and it is only once you have signed a tenancy agreement that they have a responsibility to protect your full deposit in a secure tenancy deposit protection scheme. Please see www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection for further information regarding deposits.
Please note that the reservation fee is not an additional fee, it is part of the deposit in advance and will be deducted when it comes to paying the remainder.
It is common practice in the UK for estate agents to seek references for an applicant on behalf of the Landlord to check that you have the ability to pay the rent and that you have previously rented a property without any problems. Referencing involves paying an administration fee in order to process the paperwork involved and carry out the relevant searches. Searches and documents required will normally involve:-
• References from your previous Landlord – usually details of property that you have rented over the last 3 years.
• A credit check – this will allow the Landlord to check that you have a good history of paying bills.
• Your bank details – including your bank name, account number and sort code in the UK.
• Details of your employment- your employer, job title, payroll number, salary and previous employers’ number.
If the referencing does show any concerns or you fail any of the checks you may not get your administration fee back so it is extremely important to check this before signing forms and handing over funds.
If you are finding it difficult to provide references or fail a credit check some letting agents may ask that you have a guarantor or that you insure against default of rental payments on behalf of the Landlord. If you have had previous issues or have knowledge that you may fail some of these checks it is best to discuss this from the outset with us.
To be considered for a tenancy you must complete an application and agree to be credit checked by an independent credit reference company. Each person over 18 years who is going to be named as a tenant must fill in this application.
Once we have completed the application to the referencing agency, you will then receive an email from them that will provide you with a secure link to complete an online application. It is important that the completed application is submitted within 48 hours of receipt. Failure to complete the application within these timescales will result in the property being put back on the market.
The deposit is the final step to securing a property – it is an amount of money held in a secure tenancy deposit scheme for the duration of the tenancy and is usually the equivalent of 6 to 8 weeks’ rent. (This is a rough guide, some amounts may differ slightly).
New legislation has been brought out to protect all parties when it comes to the deposit – The Housing Act 2004 with an update in 2007. Please see www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/contents.
Please note that if you have not rented in the UK before and do not have a UK bank account, then you may have to pay up to 6 months rent in advance. In order to open a UK bank account you will need:
- Your passport
- Evidence of your address overseas (e.g. your overseas driving licence)
- Evidence of your UK address (e.g. your tenancy agreement)
- Proof of employment (e.g. your employment contract)
With Ivy Gate, the security deposit will usually be equal to a minimum of 6 weeks’ rent and held during the tenancy against any damages. Usually this will be held by Ivy Gate as stakeholder under the terms of the tenancy deposit scheme, however on occasions your Landlord may choose to hold this and register it accordingly. You will be notified if this is the case.
Most tenancies in the UK are Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements which states the tenants rights to live in a property for an agreed term and the Landlords right to receive a certain amount of an agreed rent for that term. In order to get an overview of the tenancy agreement and what it involves along with the rights and responsibilities of both the Landlord and tenant please see www.gov.uk/private-renting-tenancy-agreements.
If an initial agreement is for a period of more than three years then a deed will need to be drawn up with solicitors acting on behalf of you and the Landlord.
There are some residential tenancies that cannot be Assured Shorthold Tenancies. Exclusions include high value properties (where the annual rent exceeds £100,000), lettings where the tenant does not occupy the property as his only or principal home (e.g. a second home) and lettings by resident landlords (who are living in a part of the property at the time of the tenancy). Tenancy agreements granted in these circumstances are known as Contractual Tenancies.
Another exclusion from AST status covers lettings to companies. Contractual tenancies are not covered by the same statute as conventional Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements.
The contract will be raised and any ‘addendums’ agreed, such as the inclusion of a clause if you have pets or other specific details about your tenancy. The move in date will be agreed and the documents will be sent to all parties for signing.
You will be given a statement for the money due, and payment to us will need to be received in cleared funds before the start of the tenancy. Payment may be made by online bank transfer or bankers draft. We do accept card payments but they will be subject to a fee of 2.75% of the transaction total and payment needs to be made 3 working days prior to move in to allow the funds to clear. You are liable to pay rent from the start date of the tenancy, even if you moved in after that date. Subsequent rental payments can only be accepted by Standing Order. Where the tenancy is a joint responsibility, you will need to ensure that is received from one account only. Once you have paid your fees, deposit and initial rent and the contracts have been signed, the tenancy commences. Congratulations!
On the day of move in, there will be an inventory carried out on the property. The inventory is one of the most important documents when renting a property and should be given thorough attention when moving into the property right from the outset. It is key when referring back to the condition of the property if any disputes arise when return of deposit is due at the end of the tenancy.
The cost of the checkout process at the end of the tenancy will be split equally between tenant and Landlord. The cost of the checkout will depend upon the size of the property.
Ivy Gate is registered with the Property Ombudsman for Lettings, assuring that our systems and processes are of the highest possible standard.