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Helpful information for tenants renting with Woodward Estate Agents

There are several questions prospective tenants ask about general lettings terms.  In order to help you we have prepared these guidance notes.   Although this does not form part of a contract to rent a property, we hope you will find these useful.  If you have specific queries, please let us know and we shall be delighted to assist where possible.

For your protection we are:

Members of Propertymark; the Association of Residential Letting Agents number 0020104

Members of Propertymark Client Money Protection Scheme number C0008235

Members of The Property Ombudsman number N00837

Members of Tenancy Deposit Scheme number G02207

Are there any charges a tenant has to pay at the start of a tenancy?

This varies from agency to agency and landlord to landlord.  As a company, we make a low administration charge to each tenant.

A charge will be made on each tenancy for registration and administration of your deposit with the government approved Tenancy Deposits Scheme.

Compare our Letting Fees with other Letting Agents;
We have heard stories of some Letting Agents charging many hundreds of pounds to tenants. NOT US!
We have kept ours LOW so the BEST TENANTS can have the BEST SERVICE.

Woodward Estate Agents Charges to Tenants (all inclusive of VAT)

For a New Tenancy

Tenants reference fee                                            £71.50 per person

Guarantors Reference fee (when applicable)
will be charged at                                                  £71.50 per Guarantor

Deposit Registration Fee                                        £42 per tenancy

Charges during a Tenancy:
Late rent payment reminder letter                          £18 each letter

Manual processing of rent paid by any
method other than standing order                          £18 each receipt

Renewal of Tenancy
Preparation of Tenancy Agreement                        No charge

Termination of Tenancy
Charges to tenant                                               No charge,    but see  Landlord’s Costs below

Refund of overpaid rent paid after termination       £18 each receipt

Landlord’s Costs to be reimbursed by the Tenant
Contribution to Inventory Cost:   An independent inventory is designed to protect the interests of both landlord and tenant. 

It is common therefore that the tenant and landlord equally share the cost of making and checking the inventory which varies depending on the size of the property between £100 and £150.

Dilapidation: 
Obviously a tenant is responsible for a landlord’s costs for any breach of the tenancy agreement by a tenant. 

When applicable, this will include charges we make to the landlord for arrangements on the landlord’s behalf, for things such as post tenancy cleaning, decorating, repairs, replacements, etc. 

We charge £72 plus £72 per hour after the first hour, for our time in specifying, obtaining estimate, appointing a contractor, provide access, oversee work and settle the contractors invoice.

Other obligations between the landlord and tenant are included in the Tenancy Agreement.

What length of tenancy is usual?

Generally speaking this is by agreements between landlords and tenants however we do not arrange lettings of less than six month duration.  Most tenancy agreements are for a fixed term from six months to three years.

During this period there is no right for either party to bring the tenancy to an end at [except for breach of the contract terms] unless specifically agreed to the contrary.  A “break clause” as they are known, can be useful in that it gives a tenant more flexibility.  Alternatively, it may also keep landlords options open and offers a tenant less security.

Our “standard agreement” it is for 12 months, with a break clause to end the tenancy after  six months, subject to 60 days notice.

How is the rent paid?

Rent is usually paid “per calendar month”, i.e. the same amount each month regardless of how many days there are in a month.

Occasionally you may see rents advertised as “weekly”.  This is traditional and you must remember that there are four and third weeks in a calendar month [52 weeks divided by 12 = 4.33].

Each month the rent is paid in advanced so, the rent you pay on the 5th September is to the 4th October inclusive.

The rent is usually paid by standing order [other than the first month - see below] direct from your account to landlord or us.  This avoids some cheques being lost in the post, missing payments by mistake when on holiday, etc.

The date the rent is due each month is the same as the date you commenced the tenancy ie. if your contract starts on the 5th September your rent is due on the 5th of each month thereafter.

How much deposit is required?

The usual deposit is an amount equal to five weeks rent [although sometimes landlords may request more].  This must have cleared into our account when you sign the tenancy agreement.

Where we hold a deposit it is done under the rules of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme operated by The Dispute Service under a Government contract and as Stakeholders.  Otherwise the deposit is passed to the Landlord who is responsible for holding it in accordance with the Housing Act 2004 and you have a right to check this with your Landlord.

Your first month’s rent must also be paid to us and cleared into our account when you sign the tenancy agreement.

Cleared funds means that we need a cheque 10 banking days before commencement, bank transfer as a week before, or drafts on the day.  We do not accept cash.

What references does the Landlord require?

It is very important for the landlord to know that he is renting to a responsible person with the ability and intention to pay the rent.  To demonstrate this we will need to supply a landlord with a bank reference [called a Status Enquiry], employers reference and where possible a previous landlord or mortgagee.  It is also common for landlords to have their agent photocopy your passport details.  This has been introduced to stop cases of fraud.  If you are asked for this don’t worry, it will just be standard procedure.

Where you do not have a European Economic Area [EEA] passport, we are required by law to check your Biometric Residence Permit to establish residency rights.  Other documents may also be acceptable, so pleased ask first before you make your offer.

Who signs the contract?

All occupiers over the age of 16 must sign the contract and accompanying documents [different rules apply to a company let].  Remember that a tenancy agreement is a binding legal contract and is not to be entered into lightly, you should take independent legal advice on any aspects you do not understand.

Who pays “the bills”?

Usually the landlord is responsible for service and maintenance charges, ground rent, building insurance and the fire/flood insurance of his contents [but not yours].

Tenants must arrange to have connected in their own name the gas, electricity, water and council tax charges.  We will take meter readings where applicable and submit to the gas and electricity suppliers with your current or any forwarding address known to us.

You are also responsible for contacting the telephone, broadband, TV subscription and insuring your own contents.

Is an inventory necessary?

Yes, in order to protect the deposit and the landlord’s interest.  There all several ways in which inventories are carried out but two are most common:

Either
An inventory is provided by the landlord for you to check on the day of your move in.  This you will be required to sign, make any notes on the condition of items listed if necessary, and return within 48 hours to the landlord or agent.

Or
An inventory clerk will arrange through the landlord’s agent to meet you at the property and check through with you there and then items on the inventory and their description of condition.  The same arrangements will be made on your day of leaving the property.  It is usual for the tenant to share the cost of making and checking the inventory with the landlord, the cost of which varies but will be detailed on your reservation form.

Inventory points to remember

1.  Properly completed, they will protect your deposit and interests as well as the landlords.

2.  They must clearly state the condition of all items as well as carpets, decoration, etc.

3.  If an appointment with an inventory clerk is arranged you must turn up on time.  Failure to do so will result in a charge being levied on you for a new appointment.

Can I move some of my belongings into the property before my tenancy starts?

Unfortunately the answer to this is no.

Access to the property starts only when the tenancy starts, not before.

What happens at the end of my tenancy?

Usually, an inventory shall be taken and compared with the condition at check in. It is important therefore that you return the property to the same clean state as at the commencement of your tenancy and check that all items are accounted for and in the same place you found them.

The Housing Act 2004 requires that if there is a dispute between a landlord and tenant as to how a deposit should be allocated, the matter and the disputed amount is referred to an Independent Complaints Examiner, who will make a binding decision.

On the last day of your tenancy you shall be required to hand over all keys to the property and may not re-enter, so be sure you have or your belongings out of the property and finished your cleaning etc. by the given time.  Also, don’t forget to cancel your milk, papers and we re-direct your post, as the next occupier may not choose to do so for you.

Where funds are to be returned by ourselves as managing agent, this is by cheque or bankers transfer.

In the event you require the recommendation of a suitable professional cleaning and carpet cleaning company where applicable, please contact us in good time for this to be done before the end of your tenancy. Please note that where additional cleaning is required after the inventory checkout, the landlord will employ a professional company and a handling fee will be added. This charge is listed below.

Who is responsible for insurance?

In most circumstances the landlord will remain responsible for the insurance of the building and his own contents against normal risks covered by a household insurance policy.  This however does not cover damage, accidental or otherwise, by a tenant.

The landlord can certainly not be responsible for insurance of a tenant’s belongings as he has no control over the value of items you possess, be they the Crown Jewels or personal effects of more modest value.

It is therefore important that you insure your own items against damage by fire, flood, theft etc.  in the usual way.

We recommend special contents insurance exclusively for tenants which not only covers your items, but also the landlords against accidental damage.  We think of it as ensuring your deposit against such accidents as spilling wine over the carpet.  If you would like to insure your deposit and belongings please ask for details.