At Votta Lettings we pride ourselves at always being ahead of the curve in relation to legislative changes that impact landlords and tenants, this means we can guide both parties into successful, lasting tenancies. We endeavour to start the tenancy off on the best foot and then have as smooth as possible tenancies so that both landlord and tenant’s relationship is a harmonious one that works well. This all starts with being honest and open from the outset, which sounds hard to believe but has led to success for David Votta who has built a reputable brand he is happy to put his name to. This comes with a promise…
We advise our tenants of what’s expected and what’s ahead, for example many agencies over the years have capitalised on tenant fees (which are necessary to cover costs), however some unscrupulous agents have charged far too much than they should and have been seen as profiteering. As an outcome of this the government have banned fees to tenants on 1st June 2019 which will have a negative, ripple effect on tenants. There will be raised rents to cover the landlords additional fee’s and undoubtedly a lack in maintenance from non professional landlords/agents to name a few negative impacts. The new legislation doesn’t benefit the very people it’s designed to help, in fact it’ll cost tenants more over the lifespan of the tenancy. See the fee ban diagram. The government have also started the consultation process on removing the section 21 notice which again will negatively impact tenants. We felt our fees at Votta Lettings were more than fair and despite the removal of them we’ll still provide our tenants with an excellent service that will make you want to share your experiences with everyone.
We pride ourselves on being an independent family run business that has some of the best connections in the industry, so if you’re a tenant concerned about using a smaller, not so corporate agent you have nothing to worry about. Not only will you be looked after and listened too but you’ll have the assurance that your tenancy is in the best capable hands. See links below to our affiliations:
Move in monies
You are about to enter a legally binding relationship with your new landlord so the following information is important. If you are unsure of any aspect of, or issues related to the process you are about to commence please do not hesitate to ask a member of the Votta Residential Lettings team, who would happy to help you. Please initial each page and sign where applicable.
Our holding deposit is equal to one weeks rent and this becomes payable upon you being advised that your landlord wishes to proceed with your application to the referencing stage, please note ALL such agreements are subject to contract.
Upon signing your agreement we require the outstanding balance on your first months rent along with your five week deposit.
The holding deposit reserves the property, subject to references and will be held for up to 15 calendar days, (or an agreed alternative date which has been confirmed in writing) and will be returned within 7 calendar days if applicable. The holding deposit will become forfeit and will NOT BE RETURNED in the follow circumstances:
- You withdraw from the application after referencing has been commenced;
- You fail to take reasonable steps to enter into the tenancy after the completion of referencing;
- You or anyone associated with the application fail the right to rent checks;
- You or anyone involved with the application supplies false or misleading statements, (factually incorrect information falls into this category, for example you fail to disclose a change to your circumstances, or your employer confirms a different salary to the one you originally supplied). Accuracy of the information you supply is of paramount importance to avoid forfeiting your holding deposit.
- You fail the referencing due to your credit not meeting the minimum criteria as set out by our third party referencing company and supplied to you with this document.
In the event your holding deposit becomes forfeit the reason will be confirmed in writing to the email address you supplied when making the application.
If you withdraw your application before referencing has been commenced the holding deposit will be refunded in full within 14 days.
The Landlord reserves the right to reject your application if information comes to light during the referencing process that was not disclosed when the application was made, or if the independent referencing company state your application has been declined due to the information supplied by you and verified by them.
If you are uncertain about the outcome of your references it is very important that you speak with us so that you are able to withdraw your application without penalty prior to the referencing commencing. If you believe you may have detrimental credit issues, landlord reference or issues verifying your affordability that will impact negatively on your application you are advised to check this prior to proceeding.
Advice on finding your next home
The private rented sector is fast becoming largest proportion of the housing market. It wasn’t so long ago that many desired to own their own homes, however renting is now the way forward for many people allowing a huge amount of flexibility for those that are quite transient with job locations, studying or any other reason where you require the ability to move in a relatively short period of time without the added stress of home ownership.
Renting isn’t quite as easy as checking into a hotel however this snapshot will give you a little insight on what to expect when your new home search begins.
Sourcing your ideal home within your budget
Set yourself some guidelines before commencing your search.
- Budget planner (See attached) factor in costs for utilities and your personal subscriptions etc
- When can you view
- Furnished or unfurnished (be specific ion what you want as you may need to factor in buying fridges/washing machines etc
- What are you looking for in a property character/modern
- Number of bedrooms
- Open plan/separate living space
- Check the EPC on the property to estimate your costs. Factor in double glazing, gas central heating into your running costs
- Need to be close to transport links
- Off street parking
- Timescales (your agent needs to know this in order to prioritise your move and set expectations)
- When will that property be available to move into
- Close to work
- Close to local beaches/parks/countryside/hobbies/family
- Pets allowed
- How long do you want the tenancy for
- What would you like included in your next home
- Outside space, garden/balcony/communal area
- Place to store bikes/equipment safety if on a development
Once you are clear on what you want and can afford then get searching on the websites and registering with your preferred agent.
Never use an agent that’s not regulated or is not a member of a professional body, many tenants are drawn to cheaper fees and saving money but often it works out cheap for a reason. Even if the property you love is with that agent, tread very carefully because there are rogue landlords and agents out there that quite simply don’t not understand their legal obligations and will cut corners. See the next section on Viewings.
Once you’ve singled out a few properties that you’d like to view or just the one whatever meets your needs make sure you try and club them together and as soon as possible. There are couple of ways to do this.
- Email the branch directly
- Use the website or third party website like Rightmove, Zoopla, On the market etc and select the book viewing link
- Pick up the phone and contact the branch itself
Personally I would always recommend option (3) as you get a direct response, you can fully register in general for any other properties, build rapport with your agent so they are more encouraged to find your next home and you can normally get something booked in there and then. This shows your motivation, agents and landlords will require you to move and been an actively looking tenant immediately unless there are ones coming up that wont be ready until further down the line. Then you can secure your next home as soon as you need it.
Remember don’t feel pressured into making a decision on your next home, its got to be a well thought out and planned choice, just be mindful that it’s a very buoyant market and the chances are there are a few other people interested in the same property who you’ll possibly be up against so get yourself in pole position by having the below ready in advance.
- Passport/Photographic ID
- Proof of residency in the form of whatever the agent accepts
- A date you plan on being moved by
- Any questions on the property for example, how often fire alarms are tested, where’s the allocate parking, council tax band if not already displayed and any questions that will be relevant for you to know as a tenant (maybe have a list with you)
- Your employer/Accountant/landlord on stand by to complete your reference when the request comes in with the correct contact information on whoever you need to complete the references
- Readily available tenancy set up/administration fees
Under the Immigration Act 2014 act you are obligated to supply certain information to be eligible to rent in the UK (right to rent documents), for further information on this click here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-document-checks-a-user-guide
Next step is Viewing stage
It’s always good to get to your viewing around 5-10 minutes early just to ensure the area meets your expectation in regards to parking, anti social behaviour from the locals (check your local online crime report), neighbours, distances and the condition from the front. The look of the exterior is always a good indicator as to what’s to expect. If the building is tired and windows are in poor condition then that’s something you’ll need to address as it’ll affect your decision and possibly the energy rating and your cost of bills. If you can find a neighbour in eyeshot try and get their opinion in the property/area.
When the agent turns up be sure to ask any and all relevant questions that you don’t already have the answers to. Have a really good look around, usually it takes around 15 minutes to do a proper viewing and take it all in dependant on the size of the property and the agent should have allowed sufficient time for this.
Check the following:
- Communal areas if applicable for its condition
- State of repair throughout
- Type of boiler
- Age of electrics
- Any items staying and the condition of them (any portable electrics will be subject to a PAT test)
- Are there sufficient sockets?
- Is there an Ariel and is there a dish up?
- Gas appliances
- Condition of the décor and flooring
- State of the garden if applicable
- Security of the building
This all might sound very obvious but you’ll be surprised at what people miss when caught in the moment. See the next step Agreeing to the let
Agreeing to the let
Be sure that before you agree to the let you are fully armed with all the information you require to make an informed decision which mirrors some of the previous information we’ve been through already.
- Agreed rent
- Deposit and where it’ll be located
- Fees (if any) pre, during and post tenancy
- Tenancy start date in order for you to take leave from work and get organised with boxes etc… (ask your agent if they can refer an approved removal firm to alleviate the stress for you, sometimes you may even be able to get a discount.
- Length of tenancy
- Special provisions/conditions
- Your obligations as a tenant
- Who the suppliers are
- Rent due dates
- Will you need a guarantor?
- Tenants contents and liability insurance Tenants insurance
- Arrange a second viewing to perhaps go and measure up and see what agreed works have been done.
There are often situations where you’ve agreed to take a property on the premise that certain things will be done and come the day of move in they aren’t. You may find that you are left without utilities, there is outstanding decoration/maintenance which is the worst possible start to your new home.
Signing the agreement
A very important part of your moving process as you are about to enter into a legally binding contractual obligation where you must adhere to certain responsibilities under tenant like manner and honour those obligations. If for whatever reason there’s anything you do not understand then you need to raise questions as soon as possible. In many circumstances you will have already read the draft tenancy to make comment on but if you haven’t then you need to sit down and have some quiet time in which to read, digest and sign your agreement.
PLEASE NOTE that should you fail to honour your obligations as set out in your tenancy you could be at risk of being served notice at the earliest point in order for the landlord to regain possession. Possession costs can be quite considerable therefore should you feel you cannot afford the rent along with utilities and various other outgoings then you should not agree to take a tenancy.
A landlord has their own obligations in which they must adhere to and consequences should they fail to maintain that obligation.
Upon signing your tenancy agreement you need to see sight of and/or have the following.
- Passed landlord gas safety certificate
- Assured shorthold tenancy agreement
- Standing order mandate with details on where to pay rent
- Prescribed information as to where your deposit will be located
- Full set of keys including any window/garage/shed keys
- Details on any manuals being left behind
- Energy performance certificate
- The governments ‘How to rent’ guide
- Any other associated certificates that relate to the property
- Details on your property manager/landlord and who you go to for any and all issues relating to the property.
- Ensure you have adequate specialist insurance in case of burglary and accidental damage
Once we have received your move in money and you have the keys you are ready to go! You may be heading to the property by yourself, accompanied by us or a third party for check-in.
Now you are Moved in
Now that you are moved in you’ll need to double-check the following:
- The utilities are switched on
- If you haven’t already then now is time to notify the utility companies that you have moved in and the meter readings
- Contact the local council for council tax
- Set up your sky/broadband packages if you haven’t already or if the property doesn’t come with this
- Organise parking permits if applicable
- Get a mail redirection in place so that you can receive your mail and update those companies as to your new address
- Notify your bank of change of address along with any other companies/clubs you belong to. Make a generic template letter that can be adjusted accordingly and send them out
- Drivers license update (if applicable)
- Hospital/GP… insurance companies…the list goes on
- Check your inventory and schedule of condition as you may have some time to comment on any inaccuracies on it.
- Check the property over and ensure everything is as it should be
Congratulations you are moved in! Make sure you have your landlord/property manager’s number saved into your phone in case you need to contact them.
Move on to Your tenancy
As we earlier identified this agreement is legally binding and there are expectations on both the landlord and tenant to perform the duties outlined in the agreement. If you are ever unsure on anything then go back and re-visit your agreement and if you have questions ask your agent/landlord.
As per your agreement you will be required to allow reasonable access to your property for the following:
- Annual gas safety certificate
- Any maintenance work required
- Routine inspections by the landlord/agent
- Any other outstanding certification that’s required by your tenancy
There is a limit as to how often your landlord or agent can attend the property outside of the above remit, if you are ever unsure of whether or not something isn’t right then re-read your agreement or seek specialist legal advice. Although many people choose free advisory organisations, search engines or even the advice of friends this can never be fully relied upon. Specialist advice is essential when it comes to contract law as you could unknowingly be in breach of your tenancy.
Be sure to keep any and all correspondence with your agent/landlord via text, email or writing because you may need to later rely on this as evidence should you fall victim.
Tenants insurance is something that’s not talked about enough and there have been some horrific situations where tenants believed that all their possessions and liability were covered by the landlords insurance, but this is never the case. As a tenant if you get burgled, damage or lose your possessions then you stand no chance of getting the money back and what you took for granted then becomes an unimaginable loss.
Tenants insurance can cover an array of things for a small monthly premium.
- Damage to the landlords property (for example you could damage the carpet and get it replaced like for like or old for new under your policy without excess premiums or any other fixture and fitting that was deemed damaged by yourself)
- Protect your belongings of value (TVs, laptops, bikes, jewellery…)
- Any accidental damage in the property that wasn’t your fault and anything you have had damaged as a consequence.
You shouldn’t start your tenancy uninsured. To find out more on tenants’ insurance, what’s involved and what it covers please click here Tenants insurance, it’s vital that you do as many landlords will not want to let to an uninsured tenant.
We hope you have found these guides useful and should you have any questions or require advice on these sections then please do not hesitate to get in touch.