Information for prospective tenants

Before a prospective Tenant enters a legally binding commitment for a tenancy through Country Properties (“CP”) it is important to ensure they are fully conversant with most of the requirements connected with renting residential property. Please note that in the majority of cases, CP handle all aspects of managing the tenancy in the manner described below but where a Landlord wishes to be involved in managing the property, the procedures are likely to differ from those stated and the Tenant should ascertain which aspects the Landlord will be handling themselves.

We hope you find this information helpful and will be happy in your chosen property. If you have any queries or require more information please do not hesitate to contact one of our Consultants.

Tenancy matters

Tenancy Set-Up

In addition to the administrative work involved in setting up a new tenancy, a Holding Deposit is required at the point of offer and photographic identification (passport) and a copy of a bank statement, or utility bill that is no more than 3 months old.

Holding Deposit

The Holding Deposit demonstrates the Tenant’s serious intent to rent a property and is set at the equivalent of one week’s rent. The Holding Deposit on passing references and agreeing a move-in date will go towards the first payment of rent.

Should the Tenant provide false information, or fail to act reasonably in entering into the Tenancy Agreement, or fail Right to Rent checks, or withdraw the Holding Deposit will be retained to pay all reasonable costs incurred by the Landlord and CP.

Identification

Within two days of paying the Holding Deposit CP require that two original forms of identification are shown to our staff (not copies, or scans), firstly in the form of a UK passport and secondly a copy of utility bill, or bank statement that is no more than 3 months old.  For those not holding a UK passport we require a European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland passport.  For non EEA, or Swiss passport holders it must be accompanied by a permanent residence card, or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain, or a Home Office immigration status document, or a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen. 

References

As already mentioned in our Tenants Guide, an independent agency is engaged to verify that the personal and employment references and credit checks are in order. To enable CP to submit the application the Tenant is required to complete a reasonably detailed questionnaire and pay the relevant fee. It is rare for the reference agency to reject an application but should it do so, CP reserves the right not to reveal the reason given by the agency.

Payment of the First Month’s Rent and Deposit

Either within 7 days of passing the reference checks, or 3 days prior to the start of the tenancy (whichever is sooner) we require:
(a) One month’s rent in advance (less the Holding Deposit already paid).
(b) The equivalent of five week’s rent which will be held by the Landlord, or CP as a deposit against damages (not to be used as rent).  Interest will not be paid on the return of the deposit.  The deposit will be returned after the end of the tenancy (to check for possible damage), any possible damage will be judged against the inventory/schedule of condition for the property.

Moving In Date

The overriding determinant is the date the property will be vacated. On the basis it will be vacant and there is no urgency for either party, the process will normally be completed in 10 to 14 days.

The Tenancy Agreement

With the exception of properties with rents in excess of £100,000 per annum, the tenancy will be secured by a Fixed Term Assured Shorthold Agreement containing the legal obligations of both Tenant and Landlord. The fixed period referred to will usually be for a term of 6 to12 months (the period being in accordance with the requirements of the parties concerned).

Unless both parties agree to vary the length of the term during the tenancy, neither the Landlord or Tenant are able to terminate until the end of the fixed period at which time CP request that the parties give 2 month’s notice in writing of their intention to do so. On the day the Tenant finally vacates, CP’s representative will meet at the property to conduct the Check-Out (see 12.0 below). Please be aware that everybody intending to reside at the property over the age of 18 must be party to the Agreement and after taking possession no one should be allowed to move into the property without first obtaining written permission from CP.

Continuation of Tenancy

Allowing plenty of time to respond before 2 months prior of a fixed term tenancy, CP will write to the Landlord and Tenant asking if they wish the tenancy to continue at the end of the term. Should CP not receive a response from the tenant, then it is assumed the tenant will wish to vacate and marketing will commence 2 months prior to the end of the term to find replacement tenants.

There are two options available to continue the tenancy at the end of the fixed period, both of which will be by agreement of the two parties:

  • A New Fixed Period: If greater security is required, a new Fixed Term Shorthold tenancy is the better of the two options. A new Agreement will be necessary, following a similar process as for the previous Agreement.
  • A Periodic Tenancy: Where the parties wish to continue the tenancy but one or both decide that they do not want to commit to another fixed period, the original Agreement can be converted to a periodic tenancy. Under a periodic tenancy, notice can be given at anytime by either party, subject; in the Landlord’s case by giving a minimum of 2 months prior notice and in the Tenant’s case, a minimum of 1 month. In both cases, termination should be set to take place on the day before a rent due date.

Monthly Rental Payments

The rental quoted is calculated per calendar month. The Landlord is entitled to increase the rent at the end of a fixed term tenancy and if the tenancy goes onto a periodic tenancy, the landlord is entitled to increase the rent every 12 months. From the second calendar month of the tenancy onwards the rent is payable by standing order set up by the tenant on the basis of forms that will be prepared by CP which will be delivered to the tenant’s bank prior to the start of the tenancy.

To ensure CP are able to transfer the funds to the Landlord by the rent due date, the standing order is scheduled for payment 4 days earlier. Please be aware that any costs incurred as a result of late payment will be passed on to the Tenant and where there is more than one named Tenant, each person is jointly and severally responsible, therefore are equally liable for any unpaid rent. Please note: It is the tenant’s obligation to make sure the rent is paid on time without deduction or set off whatsoever. It is not up to the Landlord to demand rent.

Pets

Without the Landlord’s prior permission in writing no pets can be kept at the property. To seek permission an application should be made in writing stating what type of pet, its breed and age.

Smoking

NO SMOKING is permitted inside any property.

Property matters

Insurance Cover

As far as the tenancy is concerned the Landlord is responsible for insuring the building and any of their own contents included in the tenancy. The Landlord cannot be held responsible for any loss suffered by the Tenant; therefore the tenant should consider whether they wish to obtain contents insurance cover for their own furniture and effects at the property. If required, CP will be happy to arrange for a financial advisor to organise the appropriate insurance cover.

The insurances may be affected if the property is vacant for a consecutive period of 28 days; therefore if the Tenant is planning to be away from the property for that period of time, they must inform CP before they intend to leave the property; should any insurance be invalidated as a result, the tenant will be responsible for all damage that might occur at the property.

Utility Supplies and Services

As from the start of the tenancy CP will arrange for the cost of utility supplies and council tax to be transferred from the existing occupier to the Tenant. Should the Tenant wish to transfer any of the utilities to an alternative supplier or disconnect the supply altogether, they must obtain prior permission from CP. Unless the Landlord directs otherwise, at the end of the tenancy the utilities will be reinstated back to the original suppliers and the Tenant will be responsible for any costs or charges connected with the transfers.

The Tenant will also be responsible for the transfer and/or installation cost and subsequent reinstatement of any telecommunication services. At the end of the tenancy final meter readings will be agreed with the Tenant during the Check-Out and services subsequently transferred from the Tenant to the new user. Tenants are also requested to avoid any circumstances which are likely to give the utility companies a reason to disconnect supplies.

Dilapidations Deposit

A deposit is payable by the Tenant to insure the Landlord against the risk of any dilapidations to the property or contents which occur as a result of the tenancy. The Landlord is only entitled to compensation when there is a lack of care or damage beyond fair wear and tear to the Landlord’s property or when additional cleaning is necessary in order to return it to the original condition.

For properties that are managed by CP, in line with legislation, CP will lodge the deposit with a Government approved scheme, which will hold the deposit as an independent stakeholder not representing either Landlord or Tenant (If the Tenancy Deposit Scheme [TDS] is used then CP will hold the deposit as an independent stakeholder.) Where a property is not managed by CP it is the Landlord’s obligation to protect the deposit and to supply ‘terms and conditions’ for whatever scheme is being used. Along with a lot of agents, most Landlords will use the Government approved scheme of deposit protection known as The Deposit Protection Service (DPS).

Full details will be given to the Tenant. The deposit cannot therefore be utilised for any other purpose such as outstanding rent and (unless CP advise otherwise) the deposit will remain in the same scheme throughout the tenancy. Subject to a deduction for the cost of any dilapidations, upon agreement of those deductions from both Landlord and Tenant, the balance of the deposit will be returned to the Tenant. Please be aware that where the tenancy is being taken by 2 or more people, any repayments due will, unless confirmed otherwise in writing, be made only to the ‘lead tenant’ (the first signatory on the Tenancy Agreement).

Whilst the vast majority of tenancies managed by CP end harmoniously, should a dispute arise over the justification or proportionality of a deduction which cannot be resolved, the matter will be passed over to the Scheme’s resolution service. The scheme’s resolution service will then consider the circumstances impartially and after due deliberation issue their ruling.

The three Government approved schemes are:

 

  • Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

The Check-In

A detailed inventory and schedule of condition (the cost of which is the responsibility of the Landlord) will be prepared by a representative of CP. For the benefit of transparency and impartiality CP endeavour to use independent specialists as representatives whenever possible. Immediately after the Tenancy Agreement has been signed and deposit and rent paid, the representative will present their reports to the Tenant for their approval (‘the Check-In’).

Please note that should the Tenant fail to appear for a prearranged appointment to Check-In, they will be liable for the additional costs incurred as a result of the aborted visit and in organising another inspection.

The Check-Out

At the end of the tenancy, as per the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, the Tenant will return the keys to the managing agents office prior to 12 Noon on the final day (“The Check Out”). CP’s representative will attend the property to ascertain whether any dilapidations have occurred during the tenancy.

Prior to the Check-Out the tenant should ensure the property has been properly prepared and cleaned and items returned to the same position as they were listed in the latest inventory and “schedule of condition”. In practice, providing sufficient funds remain of the dilapidations deposit, any costs agreed to be outstanding are usually deducted before the final balance is returned to the tenant.

Repairs and Maintenance

The Landlord is responsible for ensuring that the property is maintained in good operational order throughout the tenancy and CP offers an out-of-hours 24/7 service for acute emergencies. Whenever a Tenant becomes aware of any maintenance/dilapidations issues they are asked to notify CP at the earliest opportunity and should they not do so they could be held at least partially responsible for any additional costs resulting from a delay. Once informed CP will relay the problem to the Landlord and implement their instructions in order to remedy the fault. Without CP’s permission in writing the Tenant must not carry out any changes to the property (including decorating) or engage a contractor to do so.

Any work carried out or is needed to be done to return it to its original condition, will be at the Tenant’s expense. Tenants should also be aware that they are responsible for the cost/replacement of any disposable items used in the course of every day living such as light bulbs, replacement batteries etc and for taking sensible precautions against frost damage. Also for ensuring that any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors at the property are checked regularly, batteries replenished when required and immediately reported to CP if not functioning correctly.

Interim Visits

Whilst preserving the Tenant’s right to privacy as will be appreciated, CP needs to monitor the property periodically carrying out the first visit approximately 3 months from the date the Tenant took occupation. Providing no problems are revealed, further visits will be arranged at 6 monthly intervals. In addition to protecting the Landlord’s interests, the visits also provide an opportunity for the Tenant to discuss any problems they may be experiencing in their tenancy.

A particular day for a visit will be agreed with the Tenant in advance, however in most cases the exact time of arrival will need to be left open to make allowance for any unexpected delays which may occur at earlier appointments. CP reserves the right to use their management key to enter the property to carry out an inspection where a prior appointment has been made.

Timetable & schedule of costs

The prospective Tenant will need to make the necessary arrangements to produce the required documents, and deposits in accordance with the timetable set out below.

VERY IMPORTANT: When the agreed takeover date does not allow sufficient time to be certain that payments to CP using a standard cheque will have time to clear the banking system, payment can only be made in the form of cash, a bankers draft or a building society cheque drawn on its own branch.

Required immediately

  • Details of Tenants: Names and addresses of the proposed tenants plus the names of other occupants (if any).
  • A completed application form is required for each tenant and guarantor.
  • A Holding Deposit
  • Proof of Identity: Proof of photographic identity for each of the proposed tenants is required, such as a passport plus a copy of a recent utility supplier’s invoice addressed to the prospective Tenant or a credit card statement that is no more than 3 months old.

Required on receipt of satisfactory references

Either within 7 days of passing the reference checks, or 3 days prior to the start of the tenancy (whichever is sooner) we require:

  • One month’s rent in advance (less the Holding Deposit already paid).
  • The equivalent of five week’s rent which will be held by the Landlord, or CP as a deposit against damages (not to be used as rent).

Required upon signing tenancy agreement

  • Inventory and Schedule of Condition: Arrange with CP’s representative to attend the Check-In to scrutinise/agree the reports.