You will be asked to pay a reservation fee which then secures the property for you to move into, subject to you passing referencing and then moving in within a reasonable time frame (see Information for Tenants). Each tenant and Guarantor will have to pay a referencing fee. In addition to this, you will be asked to pay a deposit or bond for the property, which is often higher than one month’s rent. If rented under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, this money will be registered with a government approved ‘tenancy deposit scheme’. You will receive official information which will explain the scheme, including how you reclaim your money at the end of your tenancy.
A fixed fee will be agreed with you in advance for the work involved in your sale or purchase. In rare circumstances, additional work may be required which would not normally form part of the house buying/selling process. Should this situation occur, you will be kept fully informed at all times and any additional fee would be agreed with you in advance.
Check on the landlord’s rules: no smoking and no pets are common. Often landlords are unable to accept tenants on benefits and some restrict children. If in doubt, ask. Some landlords may agree to relax their rules if you can prove that you will be a good, responsible tenant.
The age of a property does not normally affect the legal work involved in buying or selling. However, there are different issues that are more relevant to newer properties that often need to be considered. Similarly, if a property has been altered or extended (whatever its age), investigations into the planning history are required.
The Defective Premises Act 1972 imposes a duty on Landlords to take reasonable care to see that tenants and visitors are safe from personal injury or disease caused by a defect in the state of the premises. Whilst not specifically mentioned, this includes asbestos. In addition, a Landlord could be guilty of a criminal offence if anyone is exposed to a risk from asbestos. A Landlord should ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and if there are any doubts, employ a competent contractor to carry out any repairs or other works. Any landlord who commissions repair or construction work has to comply with CDM Regulations which include an obligation to notify the present tenant of asbestos where the landlord is aware of this. The Control of Asbestos Regulations require that a risk assessment is carried out before any work is started to see if asbestos is present and to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken to deal with asbestos which is present. Special rules apply to the common areas of blocks of flats and bedsits (not to individual flats) and Landlord is obliged to investigate whether asbestos is present in the common parts. If so, the Landlord is required to monitor its condition as well as putting control measures in place. Anyone who may be at risk as a result (eg a contractor carrying out work) must be notified of the presence of asbestos. The measures must be kept under review, at least annually.
A leasehold property can be bought in the same way as a freehold property can. Mortgage lenders are fine with leasehold properties as long as there is a sufficient term left on the lease period, each lender is different but typically around 70 years at the outset of the mortgage or no shorter than 35 years at the end of the mortgage term.
It is not recommend that you exchange contracts without first receiving a formal mortgage offer but, ultimately, the decision to do so will rest with you. Your deposit monies will be at risk should you not be able to obtain a mortgage offer in time for completion.
We do not advise putting in an offer on a property until you have had an offer on your own. As you will not know exactly how much your property will sell for, it is also unlikely someone will take their property off the market until you have a buyer for yours.
We are committed to providing high quality services and operate a complaints handling procedure, a copy of which is available on request from our reception. If we cannot resolve the matter for you, we are members of The Property Ombudsman scheme and you can ask the Ombudsman to consider your complaint.
The Property Ombudsman Service Milford House, 43-55 Milford Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2BP
Tel: 01722 333 306
On letting the property you will be required to pay a deposit, which will be a sum equivalent to six weeks rent or a sum agreed by the landlord at their discretion. The deposit will be held in accordance with the legal requirements on tenancy deposits and we will provide you with full details of how the deposit is held in the Tenancy Agreement. The deposit is held against decay or damage outside of the usual wear and tear. At the end of the tenancy and in accordance with your lease agreement, you will be required to agree the dilapidations with us or the landlord.
The tenancy agreement cannot commence until full payment has been received.
Yes. You have a legal duty to maintain the structure and exterior of the property and make arrangements for heating and sanitation. The tenant is responsible for repairing broken items and keeping the property clean and tidy.
No. We require 14 days written notice if you decide to take your property off the market. If you decide to change agents, please speak to us before signing any other agreements as you could be liable for two fees.
Whether or not SDLT is payable on your purchase will depend on various factors, including the purchase price and whether or not you own any other properties. Please contact Emsleys Solicitors’ conveyancing team via email or by calling 0113 264 4414 for a full quote on any purchase.
Yes. You are required by law to register the deposit with a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). The TDS is intended to facilitate the resolution of disputes that may arise between you and the tenant. We are happy to register the deposit on your behalf. We are registered with The Dispute Service.
You will need to appoint a solicitor to undertake the legal process of buying the property – this is called ‘legal conveyancing’. There are a number of factors you may want to consider when selecting your solicitor including the quality of service they offer, the speed and efficiency in progressing your purchase and their experience and knowledge. Personal recommendation is always a good place to start. It is a good idea to contact a few companies as you will get a better feel for the solicitor when you speak to them on the phone.
Yes. Your property must have a Gas Safety Certificate which needs to be renewed annually. As a landlord you have a duty of care to your tenant and we recommend that all appliances and installations are regularly checked and serviced.
No. Our fees are payable on exchange of contracts but are in practice paid on completion. The only thing you will need to pay for upfront is your EPC, if you do not already have one.
There are no legal requirements on furnishings but, in general, an unfurnished property will have carpets, light fittings and a cooker, whilst city apartments will have all furniture, including pots and pans and TVs. When you view the property, check the fixtures and fittings, and ensure the property has smoke alarms on all habitable levels and a carbon monoxide detector where there is solid fuel. Make sure you are happy with the property before renting it.
No, Emsleys Solicitors can efficiently deal with property sales and purchases throughout England and Wales.
Should your sale or purchase not proceed to completion, Emsleys Solicitors will look to agree a reasonable fee with you for the work done on your behalf, which enables their fixed fee prices to remain as low and competitive as possible.
The Landlord is obliged to ensure that electrical installations and appliances are safe and are in proper working order throughout the tenancy. It is necessary to carry out regular visual inspection of all electrical plugs, sockets, leads, appliances and goods and any that are faulty must be removed and replaced. We recommend that Landlords have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician and also recommend that electrical equipment is PAT tested on a tenant changeover and at regular intervals.
Failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence and may result in fines and custodial sentences.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is rented. You must order an EPC for potential tenants before you market your property to rent. This must be made available to tenants if they express an interest in letting your property as it is classed as material information about the property along with knowledge of the Council Tax Banding.
An EPC contains information about a property’s energy use, typical energy costs and recommends ways to save energy. Since April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic property in England or Wales must ensure that their properties reach at least an EPC Rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants.
From 1 April 2020 these requirements will apply to all private rented properties in England and Wales, even where there has been no change in tenancy arrangements.
If a landlord believes that an F or G EPC rated property qualifies for an exemption from the minimum energy efficiency standard, an exemption must be registered on the National PRS Exemptions Register. The register service is currently running as a pilot. Landlords who wish to register an exemption for a domestic or non-domestic property as part of this pilot should e-mail the BEIS minimum standards team at PRSregisteraccess@beis.gov.uk
Under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended), Landlords must be able to demonstrate that furnishings included in the property are fire resistant.
- Sofas, seat pads, bean bags
- Beds, futons, head boards, pillows
- Loose and stretch covers for furniture
- Garden furniture suitable for use indoors
- Nursery furniture
- Furniture made before 1950
- Bed linen
- Curtains Carpets.
The maintenance of the garden is the responsibility of the tenant. It is usual however for a landlord to be responsible for larger trees and shrubs, this should be defined in the Tenancy Agreement.
Landlords are responsible under legislation for the maintenance of gas fittings, flues and appliances in a safe condition.
Landlords must ensure that all gas appliances and flues have an annual gas safety check. Any checks or repairs must be undertaken by a competent engineer who is on the Gas Safe Register (note: it will not be enough for an engineer to be CORGI registered).
Records of safety checks must be kept and provided to tenants. Failure to comply with the various legislation covering gas safety could result in a substantial fine and/or a custodial sentence.
Additional responsibilities are imposed on Landlords who let Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) occupied by at least 3 tenants who comprise more than 1 household and who share the amenities (these could also apply to a building split into bed-sits).
If the property is a large HMO (at least 3 storeys high with 5 tenants comprising more than 1 household sharing facilities), the Landlord must hold a Licence from the Council.
Licences usually last for 5 years but some councils grant them for shorter periods. The council checks that the building meets acceptable standards and the landlord is a 'fit and proper' person.
Under an AST, the tenant has the right to occupy the property and if the landlord wants the property back, s/he must follow the procedure laid down by statute, whereby s/he provides at least two months’ notice of their requirement to take back the property. This can be done either 4 months into a fixed term or at any time during a periodic tenancy. A tenant must give at least one month’s notice to end a tenancy at the conclusion of the fixed term or, if running periodically, from the day of the month on which the tenancy was signed. For example, if the tenancy was signed on the 2nd of the month, one month’s notice must be given from the 2nd of any month.
Please either ask us to arrange a costs quote for you or you can contact Emsleys Solicitors direct via email or by calling the conveyancing team on 0113 264 4414 for a full quotation.
Properties are usually let for a minimum period of six months, although you can agree other timescales if you wish.
Ask whether the property is to be let for a long or short-term. There is usually a fixed term of 6 or 12 months, but if you wish to have more security you may ask for a longer fixed term.
Once you know what your budget is you can start viewing properties. Viewing a property can take anything from 10 minutes to half an hour, but don’t be afraid to take longer and ask as many questions as possible. We always recommend a second viewing as there may be things which you didn’t spot initially.
Your solicitors will always discuss with you the approximate length of time it will take to complete the process. This can vary depending on the number of sales involved in the chain, surveys, enquiries and mortgage offers, but the average time is between 6-12 weeks, although it can sometimes be quicker.
Your solicitor will discuss with you the approximate length of time it will take to complete the process. This can vary depending on the chains (upward and downward buyers and sellers) involved, surveys and enquiries, but the average time is between 6 and 12 weeks.
The timescales involved in buying and selling a house vary greatly from property to property and your conveyancer will always discuss with you the approximate length of time it will take to complete the process. However, the sale or purchase of a freehold house usually takes approximately 6 to 12 weeks to complete once the contract papers have been issued to the buyer’s solicitors, but this can vary depending on the number of sales involved in the chain, surveys, enquiries and mortgage offers. The sale or purchase of a leasehold flat involves further legal documentation and communication with additional third parties and would therefore take, on average, approximately 8 to 12 weeks to complete.
Assess your income and current outgoings and decide how much you can afford to spend on rent. You must also remember to factor in council tax, utility bills, a TV licence, water rates, telecommunications and contents insurance in your budget. Look for properties within your budget – you may need look at new areas if your first choice of location proves to be too expensive. If you are claiming benefits, check that your allowance is sufficient to rent the property.
A deposit of 10% of the purchase price is normally paid on exchange of contracts, but if you are in a chain of sales and purchases, the deposit received on your sale may be used on the purchase. If you have any questions about this, your conveyancer will always discuss this with you at the outset of the transaction.
Emsleys Solicitors offers competitively priced fixed fees for all conveyancing services, providing excellent value for money. Please contact the conveyancing team via email or by calling 0113 264 4414 for a personalised quotation and breakdown of costs.
We will need to visit your property to assess your requirements, establish who your property is likely to appeal to and agree how much rent we think is achievable.
When you find a property that meets your requirements it is time to make an offer. The main thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be frightened to make ANY offer, even if it is below the asking price, as some sellers are willing to negotiate.
Your solicitor will be able to inform you of the Stamp Duty you will need to pay if applicable or you can visit www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax for further information.
There are a number of fees to be paid when moving home. These include estate agency fees and any disbursements (for example, the cost of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)), legal conveyancing fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax where applicable.
Our estate agency fees are competitive and will be agreed with you following the valuation of your property.
We can also offer a seamless, hassle-free home sale and legal conveyancing service in association with our award-winning sister company Emsleys Solicitors. For ease and peace of mind, the legal conveyancing service is charged at a fixed fee.
You can authorise your solicitors to speak to and take instructions from a third party on your behalf. You may also appoint an Attorney to sign the legal documentation on your behalf. However, with the benefit of modern technology, this may not be necessary.
Due to money laundering regulations, we are required to confirm the identification of persons wishing to rent a property. To do this we require two forms of identification for each tenant:
- Photographic identification (Passport or Driving Licence)
- Proof of address (utility bill, bank statement dated within the last 3 months)
Your identification must be the original copies and you must provide it in person. For more information regarding identification, please contact the branch.
We carry both Professional Indemnity Insurance and Client Money Protection Insurance. In the unlikely event that you need details of our insurance, please request details from our reception and we will write to you within 14 days.
The occupants are responsible for insuring their possessions within the property.
Many landlords require that the tenant has adequate contents insurance before allowing the tenancy agreement to be signed. If this is the case please discuss the matter with Emsleys Estate Agents.
In cases where Emsleys Estate Agents are managing the property on behalf of the landlord, an inventory will be given to you at the start of the tenancy. You will be asked to check its contents and return it to us within four days. Should the inventory not be returned, the copy issued will be held to be a true and accurate reflection of the property and it will be this inventory on which all subsequent inspections are conducted.
In cases of our ‘Let Only’ service the landlord will give you an inventory of the property and inform you of the check-in and check-out procedures.
You will be asked to provide ID (ideally a passport and a utility bill or bank statement) so that your identity and immigration status can be verified. In addition to this, you will be asked to provide information to our referencing agency, who will check your credit history, income level and contact your previous landlord. If you are self-employed, they may require information from your Accountant (see Information for Tenants).
The tie-in period is as per your initial agency agreement. After this, we will continue to market the property unless you advise us otherwise.
Most rented properties are low risk but nevertheless Landlords must undertake a risk assessment to determine the risk of Legionella which causes Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. Everyone is susceptible to infection but the risk is increases with age and in people suffering from pre-existing health conditions.
The bacterium Legionella pneumophila are widespread in natural water systems, eg rivers and ponds, but can also be found in purpose-built water systems such as hot and cold water systems and spa pools where the water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth. If you decide that the risks are insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, your assessment is complete. You will not need to take any further action, but it is important to review your assessment periodically in case anything changes in your system.
Domestic hot and cold water systems can provide an environment where Legionella bacteria can grow. This can cause Legionnaires Disease which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella bacteria.
We are providing you with this information to ensure that you keep yourself safe and reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
You must make sure that:
1. Hot water in the system remains hot
2. Cold water is kept cold
3. The water is kept circulated
It is important that you:
1. Do not interfere with the settings on your boiler or hot water system. The hot water should be set so that the water is heated up to 60°C.
Tell your landlord if:
1. The cold water is still running warm after you have initially run off any water which may have accumulated in the pipes. It should not be above 20°C.
2. There are any problems, debris or discolouration in the water.
3. The boiler or hot water tank is not working properly, particularly if the water is not coming out of the taps at a sufficiently high temperature. It should come out at a temperature of 50°C after it has run for a minute at the most.
Where showers are fitted:
1. If they are used only occasionally then flush them through by running them for at least two minutes every week. Keep as far away as possible whilst this is being done.
2. Clean the shower head periodically, descale and disinfect it. This should be done at least every six months.
Where a property is left vacant for any time make sure that when it is occupied again at the outset both hot and cold water systems are flushed through by running all outlets for at least 2 minutes.
It is your landlord’s responsibility to take precautions to prevent Legionella being present in the hot or cold water system but tenants and residents also have an important part to play in taking these simple and practical precautions.
Landlords have a legal duty to ensure the property is kept in repair. This includes installations for water supply, gas and electricity and can extend to the exterior of the property in which the Landlord has an interest (eg the private driveway leading to the block of flats). Tenants do not have to report any problems so Landlords must be vigilant and take any necessary action.
A maximum of 4 tenants will be considered for one property unless an agreement has been made prior to any viewings. All tenants wishing to live at the property must be named and have signed the Tenancy Agreement.
When Emsleys Estate Agents are the managing agent for the property, rent will be paid by standing order. If there are multiple tenants, private arrangements need to be made so that rent is paid via one standing order. We will not accept payment from an individual not named on the agreement.
All tenants are jointly responsible for rental payments and unless agreed under a release clause each tenant is committed to paying the full rent for the entire term.
Where the tenant(s) wishes to make a payment of rent in advance, we will require the tenant(s) to provide proof of the funds along with their identification documents, in order to satisfy our obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations. If you are unable to provide evidence that you have the funds available and evidence of your identity, we may not be able to complete the tenancy.
Unless agreed otherwise under the terms of the tenancy, tenants are usually required to pay the following from the start of the tenancy:
- Council tax to the local authority
- Water rates to the named supplier
- Gas to the named supplier
- Electricity to the named supplier
- Telecom services
Before a tenancy can begin it is necessary for each applicant to obtain a reference. Upon verifying that the applicant is over 18 years old, Emsleys Estate Agents will undertake references through an external referencing agency. The referencing costs are:
- Each Individual: £120.00
- Guarantor: £120.00
- Company: £120.00
- Overseas clients: £120.00
All costs are inclusive of VAT and non-refundable.
If you have not been living at the same address for more than 6 months, working in same company for more than 6 months, or you are in a job with low earnings, a guarantor may be required to support the application for tenancy. The guarantor will be required to sign a legal agreement accepting liability if the tenant is unable to meet the obligations of their tenancy agreement.
Regrettably we are unable to process applicants on housing benefit unless supported by a guarantor or otherwise agreed with the Landlord.
If a tenant is not required to be referenced, an administration fee of £60.00 per person will still be charged. This payment is non-refundable, unless the landlord decides not to proceed with the letting.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy can be brought to an end in certain circumstances by serving a prescribed notice on the Tenant. Where the Tenant has not breached any conditions of the tenancy agreement, this will be a Section 21 Notice. However there are restrictions on when a Section 21 Notice can be served, for example, it cannot be within the first 6 months of the tenancy or if the Landlord has not complied with other obligations in respect of the letting.
You will be informed on signing the tenancy agreement who you should contact if maintenance and repairs are required at the property. Please be aware that tenants are responsible for minor tasks such as changing light bulbs, vacuum cleaner filters and bags. Under the agreement the tenant may be responsible for the cost of repairs or replacements when they have acted carelessly or in a negligent manner.
Subject to references, an amount of £200 must be given to us so that we may secure the property on your behalf. This will then be placed towards the rent payable of the tenancy. Should you decide not to proceed with the letting or your references are unsatisfactory the monies are non-refundable. The money will be refunded in cases where the landlord decides not to proceed with the letting.
Landlords must check all tenants have the right to legally rent (including any occupants over 18 years who are not named on the tenancy agreement).
Landlords must check the documentary evidence of the tenants’ identity and right to remain in the presence of the tenant. Permitted documents include a passport or biometric residence permit. The checks are detailed and must be recorded.
Fines can be imposed on Landlords who cannot show they checked their right to rent and letting to someone whom they knew or had reasonable cause to know that they did not have the right to rent in the UK could lead to an unlimited fine or a custodial sentence.
For more information please visit the government website: www.gov.uk/government/collections/landlords-immigration-right-to-rent-checks.
It is a legal requirement from the 1st February 2016 for all Landlords / Agents to check a tenant(s) has the legal right to live in the UK. Therefore, we must conduct checks on all applicants who will be residing at the property or on any changes to the tenancy e.g. should a partner move into a property at a later stage. Please remember you must seek consent for another person to move into the property.
We will need to see original copies of documents to be able to prove your status and you will need to bring these to the office for verification. The check will be conducted by our referencing company. Documents such as your passport will be required.
You will be unable to take up a tenancy until such checks have been undertaken so please allow time for this when choosing a move in date.
Fee for Right to Rent Checks – a charge of £12.00 Inc. VAT per person will be required for the Right to Rent Checks. This is payable on reservation of a property.
We advise all our clients to look at properties they are interested in, so that when they get an offer on their property they don't have to start from scratch.
A smoke alarm must installed on every floor of a rented property on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation (including a hall or landing). Where there are individual flats located on one floor, there must be at least one alarm within the flat itself or alternatively a communal alarm outside the flat on the same floor of the building. It is the location of an alarm which sounds which is crucial; not the positioning of detectors.
Where a room contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance (eg wood burning stove, solid fuel Aga), the Landlord must provide a carbon monoxide alarm.
Checks must be made at the start of the tenancy to check that alarms are in working order and we recommend that checks are repeated periodically.
Local Authorities enforce the regulations and can impose a fine of up to £5,000 on Landlords who fail to comply with a remedial notice.
Landlords are recommended to fit long life non-tamper proof alarms to avoid batteries being removed and not being replaced.
Tenants are required to test these periodically to ensure they are in full working order. If battery operated, tenants should ensure that old batteries are replaced and that they never remove batteries, tamper or break any alarms at the property.
Any problems with alarms needs to be reported to your Landlord and/or managing agent immediately.
There is no longer an obligation for the landlord to pay SDLT charges. If the net value exceeds £125,000 per tenancy then the SDLT becomes the responsibility of the tenant. This is applicable on a cumulative basis and you will be made aware of your responsibility if we believe that SDLT is liable to be paid.
Landlords may need to pay Capital Gains Tax on any gain when they sell a property which has been let. In addition, Landlords are liable to income tax on the rental income. The amount payable is dependent on their circumstances.
The rules as to which expenses can be offset against tax change from time to time (for example, changes to remove the allowance for wear and tear and the phasing out of tax relief on mortgage interest). Landlords are advised to contact their accountant or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to obtain confirmation regarding available allowances.
Overseas Landlords :
- Landlords who live abroad for 6 months or more per year are classed as ‘non-resident landlords’ by HMRC even if they are a UK resident for tax purposes. Specific rules apply to overseas landlords including companies that have their offices or other place of business outside the UK, companies incorporated outside the UK; trustees; members of the HM Forces and HM Government employees.
- Landlords can apply to the HMRC to pay their tax through Self-Assessment and if approved, HMRC will notify the letting agent that they can cease to withhold tax (up to receipt of the exemption certificate, they must retain the tax).
- Landlords are recommended to contact their HM Revenue & Customs office or their accountant if they have any queries as soon as possible and preferably prior to any tenancy commencing.
It is the responsibility of the tenant to hold a valid TV licence irrespective of whether the landlord has provided a television or not.
The Tenancy Agreement sets out the terms of the property you are letting. It is therefore important that you read and understand the terms and conditions prior to signing it.
The agreement may incorporate regulations or terms of the landlord’s head lease, should they own the property under a long lease. These will be made available to you at the commencement of the Tenancy.
For fully managed properties, Emsleys will collect and hold the deposit, as stakeholder. We shall collect a sum equivalent to 6 weeks rent but this may be subject to variation depending on circumstances and agreement by the landlord. We will register this with The Dispute Service in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Legislation (see below).
The deposit will be returned to the tenant on written agreement by both parties as soon as possible following the check-out at the termination of the tenancy. Where disputes arise we will endeavour to be fair and equitable between the parties but it is the responsibility of both parties to reach agreement regarding the deposit and we cannot release funds to either party without such an agreement.
It is not normal practice to pay interest on monies held on behalf of Landlords and Tenants.
With our let only service, Emsleys will collect the deposit and the first month’s rent (or other agreed amount) and transfer this to the Landlord after deduction of our fee and any other out of pocket expenses. If you do not choose to use our Tenancy Deposit Scheme you will need to provide us with details of your Tenancy Deposit Scheme and membership ID prior to the Tenancy Agreement being drawn up.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes (TDS) have been compulsory for all Assured Shorthold Tenancies since 2007 to prevent landlords suffering when a tenant abandons the property after the expiry of a tenancy and to ensure the tenant received the returned deposit if there has been no damage or arrears.
All deposits must be in accordance with an authorised TDS. The Landlord must give the Tenant prescribed information within 14 days of receipt of the deposit and comply with the scheme requirements. If the deposit is paid by another person on behalf of the Tenant, eg a parent, that person must be provided with the required information in addition to the Tenant.
Failure to comply entitles the Tenant to apply to the County Court for an order for repayment of the deposit and the Court can order the Landlord to pay the Tenant a sum equal to three times the deposit. In addition, the Landlord would not be able to serve a valid section 21 Notice for Possession.
Schemes for Tenancy Deposit protection
There are two main types of deposit protection scheme: custodial schemes (Deposit Protection Service) and insured schemes (Dispute Services Tenancy and Deposit Solutions).
During a tenancy general wear and tear should be expected. The tenant cannot be held responsible for changes in the properties condition as long as it falls within “responsible use of the property.” A number of factors need to be taken into account when considering damage or deterioration:
1. The condition according to the inventory report at check-in / check-out
2. The quality (therefore durability) of the item in question
3. The length of time the property has been occupied
4. How many occupants are expected to live in the property
5. Any extenuating circumstances
The landlord cannot expect old items to be replaced with new ones, unless the items damaged are new themselves. It is important to remember that modern pieces of furniture may not be as durable as older, antique pieces.
Below are some guidelines for the anticipated ‘life expectancy’ of house decorations:
Emulsion covered walls
Wallpaper and similar coverings
Agents charge fees for conducting referencing, administrative tasks and Right to Rent checks may apply. These fees are usually payable in advance of signing the tenancy agreement, so ensure you have some monies to meet these costs when you start viewing properties (see Information for Tenants).
• Provide a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
• Provide a valid Gas Safety Certificate. This needs to be reissued annually.
• Provide a copy of the latest Government’s Guide – How to Rent.
• Provide the tenant with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme paperwork.
• Insure the building and the landlord’s contents.
• Fit working smoke alarms on every floor.
• Fit working carbon monoxide alarms in rooms using solid fuel.
• Maintain the structure of the property, appliances and furniture (where applicable).
• Carry out most repairs, if something is not working, in a timely manner.
• Give at least 24 hours’ notice of visits to the tenant. A landlord or agent cannot access a property whenever they like.
• Pay the rent as outlined in the tenancy agreement.
• Pay the council tax, utility bills and water rates, unless otherwise stated.
• Obtain a TV licence for the property.
• Obtain contents insurance for their own goods. It is also recommended that a tenant takes out accidental cover for their landlord’s belongings.
• Look after the property, but a tenant should get the landlord’s permission prior to attempting any repairs or decoration.
• Report any maintenance problems.
• Regularly test the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarm.
• Not cause a nuisance to any neighbours.
• Not sub-let the property or take in a lodger without speaking to the landlord or agent.
To find out what your house-buying budget is and the deposit you will require, you will need to speak to an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) who will provide you with advice on the mortgages available if you need one. We can provide details of IFAs if required.
Once your sale or purchase has completed, your conveyancer will continue to work for you to assist in tying up all the loose ends. On a sale this includes redeeming any mortgages secured against the property, paying your estate agents and forwarding the sale proceeds to you. On a purchase, it includes registering your ownership of the property with the Land Registry and forwarding any title deeds to you or your lender.
Your conveyancer will notify you as soon as possible should any problems arise with your sale or purchase, to discuss the various options available and agree with you the best way of proceeding with your sale and/or purchase.
Until the exchange of contracts, there is no legal obligation for the parties involved in a sale to proceed with the matter. Should you decide not to proceed with your sale and purchase, your solicitors will notify all parties on your behalf and agree a fee with you in respect of the work carried out. However, if contracts have been exchanged on your sale and purchase there are financial penalties which you would be responsible for should you decide not to honour the contract.
Should your sale not complete, the buyer’s solicitors will return any contract papers to your solicitors, who will agree a fee with you for the work carried out and then wait for another buyer to be found. Should your purchase not proceed, your solicitors will return the contract papers to the seller’s solicitors and agree a fee with you for the work carried out on your purchase. Any searches obtained on the property will be offered to any future buyer, to try and recover the cost of the same for you.
Once a sale is agreed, we will inform your legal conveyancer, who will be in touch with you to start the legal process.
You will need to provide us with proof of funding. Your IFA mortgage advisor will be able to provide you with this.
Your solicitor will contact you once all money has been transferred and the transaction has legally completed. Your keys will then be available for collection.
Before a tenancy begins we use an independent referencing company to check the tenant’s credit rating and income. Where possible, we also obtain references from their previous landlord and/or managing agent. At the start of the tenancy, the tenant is required to pay a deposit which is usually the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. The deposit can be held by us or by you as security in case of decay or damage.
Should the tenant fail to pay the rent or breaches the terms of the Tenancy Agreement, our sister company, Emsleys Solicitors, can provide guidance and advice on what to do next.
Tenants must obtain their own contents insurance for their belongings, as they are not covered under a landlord’s policy. The landlord is responsible for insuring their contents and the building, as well as payment of any mortgage, ground rent and service charges.
Discounted rate mortgages offer a discount on another interest rate – usually a lender's Standard Variable Rate (SVR). So if an SVR is currently 5% and the discounted rate is 1% below SVR, you'd pay a rate of 4%. Discounted rates are still variable, so your payments can go up as well as down.
A fixed mortgage is where your mortgage payments stay exactly the same for a specified initial period. They're great if you have a tight budget and want to know what you'll be paying or if you're worried about interest rates going up.
Freehold means that you own both the building and the land it is on.
If you have a poor credit history or a low income, are a student, or are on benefits, you may be asked to provide a Guarantor. This is someone who will sign a Deed of Guarantee agreeing to the same terms and conditions as your tenancy. For example, if you do not pay the rent, the Guarantor will be required to pay this on your behalf. Your Guarantor will require referencing in the same manner as you, and will remain a Guarantor for the length of your tenancy.
Leasehold means that someone else owns the land the building is on. With leasehold you are only buying the right to live in the property for a certain length of time. Many leasehold properties will be subject to ‘ground rent’, which is a maintenance charge for the upkeep of any communal areas. Ground rent can sometimes include buildings insurance as well. Sometimes the rent due is a nominal amount, for example £50 per year. This is sometimes referred to as ‘peppercorn rent’. When a property is leasehold your solicitor may make an additional charge to deal with the conveyancing.
A standard variable rate (SVR) is the rate that a lender will charge at the end of a special offer deal (that they have offered you). Each lender’s SVR is different and can be changed at any time that the lender chooses. Typically (but not always) the SVR will be at a higher rate than a fixed or tracker or discounted deal that they may offer.
Make sure you have a written tenancy agreement and that you read this prior to signing. A tenancy agreement is legally binding and you will be committed to paying the rent until the end of the agreement. If your circumstances change during your tenancy, you should contact the agent/landlord so that a settlement that works for both parties can be negotiated.
The most common tenancy for residential letting is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) created by the Housing Act 1989, latterly revised by the Housing Act 1996. An AST must be for a fixed term – usually a minimum of six months. At the end of the fixed term you can agree another fixed period with your landlord, or the tenancy will become a statutory periodic tenancy subject to the same terms and conditions as the original tenancy.
A tracker mortgage follows (or tracks) the movements of another rate – most commonly the Bank of England Base Rate.
At the outset of a tenancy, it is good practice that a written document accompanied by photos is drawn up. This is a schedule of the condition of the property and its fixture and fittings. It is recommended that you read it carefully and, within 7 days of the beginning of the tenancy, make comments or notes regarding the inventory and return it to the landlord/agent. This inventory will be referred to when the tenancy ends to verify the state and condition of the property when you hand it back, allowing for fair wear and tear for the length of time that you have been in occupation (see Information for Tenants). The inventory is the main document upon which the return of the deposit is adjudged, so it is essential for both the landlord and the tenant.
When you buy or sell a property, the buyer and seller each sign a copy of the contract which details the terms of the agreement. Once both parties are happy to proceed and have signed to say so, the contracts are literally ‘exchanged’ between the parties’ solicitors. At this point the sale and purchase is legally binding on the parties. The contract will also state the completion date.
This will often depend on the price and location of the property. As well as legal fees, there are the costs of searches, Land Registry fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) to consider. We are always happy to arrange for our sister company Emsleys Solicitors Ltd to give you an estimate of the likely costs upfront, so you are fully aware of everything and can budget accordingly.
Under English law, all land is owned by the Crown. It is a technicality of English law that ownership of land is actually ownership of an interest in the land. A freehold interest is an interest which lasts indefinitely, whereas a leasehold interest is an interest in land which expires after a fixed period of time. Given the complexities that can arise, your conveyancer will always confirm whether the property is freehold or leasehold and, if leasehold, how long the lease is for.
Essentially, ‘conveyancing’ is the transfer of the legal ownership of a property from one person to another. As part of this process it is necessary to carefully check the title to make sure there are no hidden surprises. In addition, a variety of searches are carried out to make sure everything is as it should be. Your solicitors will also liaise with your mortgage company where they are providing funds for the purchase. Once it is clear that everything is in order and that you are happy to proceed, your solicitors can proceed to ‘exchange contracts’ and fix a ‘completion date’.
• Contractual Tenancy
If certain specific circumstances exist, a contractual tenancy must be created. For example, where a tenant is a company – often referred to as company lets – or where the annual rent is over £25,000.
• Assured Tenancy
This would be used if a landlord wishes to grant the tenant more security of tenure and longer term security. The landlord can only obtain possession in very limited circumstances.
First of all, think about what type of property suits you and your lifestyle. For example, do you want a flat or a house? Do you want a garden? If yes, can you manage the upkeep of a garden?
If you have chosen to use our sister company, Emsleys Solicitors for your legal conveyancing, we will inform your conveyancer when you put your property on the market. We will let the conveyancer know when a sale has been agreed and they will get in touch with you directly to progress the legal side of the sale.
The Bank of England meets once a month to dictate the base rate (this can stay the same or can increase or decrease) however mortgage lenders can change the rate that they offer to new or existing customers at any time.