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Renting Guide

Introduction

If you’re new to renting Howard & Co are one of the most experienced and qualified letting agents here in Worthing. Always use an agent for your security. Reading this guide will take you step by step through the process. Rest assured we are monitored by the Property Ombudsman (TPO) and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) for your peace of mind.

Step 1. Register your interest

Use this website or call us on 01903 212210 to register your requirements. We will then add you to our database and notify you of any properties that are suitable, usually by email. Start looking online with Zoopla or Rightmove, we advertise the most rental properties of all the letting agents in Worthing throughout the year so calling us to register will be one of the first things to do. You may then mention if you have already seen a property of interest. You need to be ready to act quickly so being prepared is a must.

Step 2. Finding the right property

Before you begin to search decide on your budget and your ideal property, in particular how many bedrooms you want, your preferred area and whether there are any special requirements such as easy access to public transport or schools. You also need to be sure that you can afford the rent. The way we calculate whether a rent is affordable to you is that you should annually earn at least 30 times the monthly rent. Any lower and landlord will ask for a guarantor who will be responsible if you ever fail to pay the rent. Remember there will be many other bills besides rent like council tax, water, gas and electric to pay for before buying shopping like groceries.

Once you have found the property that you would like to live in, we will ask you to pay a referencing / administration fee (see below). This fee covers the cost of your share of the administration and referencing costs. When you pay the fee, the property will be taken off the market whilst we process your application. The fee is only refundable if the Landlord decides not to proceed. It is not refundable if you change your mind or fail your referencing.

Step 3. Fees

By law, letting agents now need to display their fees prominently in each office, on their website, in marketing materials and on their property adverts on portals.Fees may include the items below and are paid by the tenant (all fees include VAT at 20%)

Referencing/ admin / set up fee £325 Including VAT for one adult applicant
Each additional adult applicant £120 Including VAT
Guarantor £140 Including VAT
Company Let £390 Including VAT
Cancelled inspection visits £30
Renewal Fee £90
Late payment of rent (7 days) £30
Payment of rent other than by standing order £30
Returned cheque fee £30
Call out for mislaid keys
If you lock yourself out and need us to let you in
£35
Tenancy swap over / release fee
(Fee charged where one or more tenants leave a multiple tenanted individual property)
£150 per tenant

Early release from your tenancy

In rare circumstances you may wish to be released from your tenancy early before the contract expires. This is always subject to prior agreement with your landlord and will depend upon circumstances. The following will apply if the release is agreed:-

  1. An early release fee for remarketing and moving in a new tenant of £360 including VAT is payable before re-marketing can commence.
  2. The rent will be charged until a new tenant is found and moved in – this must be paid monthly in advance as the rent falls due. Any over payment will be refunded once the new tenant has moved in.

Fees are non refundable if you fail referencing or withdraw.

Step 4. Referencing

All adults aged 18 or over who will be living in the property will need to be referenced. Once you have paid your fees and completed an application form, we begin reference checks to confirm your identity, your place of work and your earnings, and to confirm that you do not have any adverse credit. We will also take a reference from your current landlord and occasionally a character reference. You will also be verified as permitted to reside in the UK and are not subject to any immigration controls. You should declare if you have any unsatisfied CCJ or bankruptcies as this may jeopardise your application and this is far better discussed up front as referencing fees are not refundable if you fail the referencing or decide to pull out. You will be asked to provide original photographic ID evidence usually passport or driving licence, together with any evidence of Right to Rent in the UK, your earnings and your current address.

Step 5. Guarantors

If you are on a low income, have not been in your job long, have not rented before or want to live in a larger house you may need a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who should have a clean credit history, a UK homeowner and/or with an income of a minimum of 3x monthly rent. The guarantor should understand their obligations as they will be asked to sign a legally binding document agreeing to certain conditions which will include paying the rent if for any reason you are unable to meet your commitment.

Step 6. Your Tenancy Agreement

The residential contract between you as tenant and the landlord will usually be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. This will set out your rights and obligations as tenant, and the obligations and expectations of your landlord, and outline the agreements made by all parties.

You should make sure your agent or landlord gives you a copy of the draft tenancy agreement well ahead of the start date of the tenancy for you to read in the comfort of your own home and you should ensure you do this so you are clear as to what you are signing. If you are not sure of anything contained in the agreement, ask the agent for clarification, seek legal advice or get help from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Step 7. The security deposit

Before you move in, you will need to pay a security deposit along with your first month’s rent. Your security deposit is there to indemnify the landlord against loss of rent or to pay for any damage whilst you are living at the property. In general, the amount required is equivalent to 4 - 6 weeks rent. By law this must be protected in a Government approved deposit scheme within 30 days from the start of the tenancy. If the landlord wants to make a deduction from your deposit to cover damage to the property and you dispute it, then you will go to the deposit scheme’s Dispute Resolution Service.

More information on some of the deposit schemes used and your rights can be found at:
TDS: www.tenancydepositscheme.com
DPS: www.depositprotection.com
My Deposits: www.mydeposits.co.uk

Step 8. The Inventory

The Inventory and/or Schedule of Condition is a formal way of noting the cosmetic condition and contents of a rented property. Meter readings, sets of keys given and other information is recorded. This descriptive information, ideally supported by good quality photographs are contained in a document put together following a detailed visual inspection of the empty property before the tenancy starts, usually performed by an Inventory Clerk.

This completed document is then given to all parties to sign at the beginning of the tenancy to confirm that it is accurate. Check it carefully and question anything that you do not understand. At the end of the tenancy, the same document is then used compare the state of the property and on the findings of this comparison the deposit is then awarded appropriately.

Step 9. “Cleaned to a professional standard”

“Cleaned to a professional standard” is a phrase most often found in the Inventory, to describe what the inventory clerk feels is cleaned satisfactorily, and no further cleaning is required. However it is one of the biggest bones of contention and it causes the most disagreements at the end of a tenancy. What one person calls “professionally cleaned”, another person doesn’t and where the tenants have cleaned the property themselves before they leave, they might understandably feel a bit hurt when the inventory clerk doesn’t acknowledge all their hard work in the check out report.

A “professional” or “end of tenancy clean” is something of an art form. It goes way beyond pushing around a vacuum cleaner and feather duster. It is a thorough cleaning of every inch of the property including all carpets, vinyl flooring, around door handles and light switches, the cooker hood, oven, windows and door surrounds, the white goods (including door seals) inside all the cupboards and drawers and even the walls, taps, shower screens, shower heads, baths and toilets. The whole property is cleaned with a fine tooth comb, and the result – if done well – is something spectacular.

Of course, the cost of an End of Tenancy Clean reflects the work involved – on average £200 - which is why disputes often occur when tenants pay the average £8-£10 per hour for a domestic clean, and then wonder why the check-out document notes that further cleaning is required. The rule of thumb is that if an End of Tenancy clean was done before you move in, one will be required after you move out. So allow for that expenditure when you vacate.

Step 10. The end tenancy process

There are strict timescales involved in ending a tenancy. This starts from the date notice is served which is usually one or two months, depending on what has been agreed.

Once notice is served the clock starts ticking. The date you leave will be agreed and the agent will put the wheels in motion. If the property is put back on the market, viewings may take place so it’s important to keep the property looking nice for them to show round prospective new tenants.

On your last day you will hand the keys back and a check-out inspection will be conducted on the next working day. Once you have returned the keys you will not be allowed to return to the property. The agent will then be in touch with you within 10 days of that date to arrange the return of your deposit if there are no deductions. If however the landlord wishes to make deductions from your deposit, there will be a set procedure for that to take place. Details of which can be found on the website for the deposit scheme that is being used.