A Tenants Guide To Renting A Property

Tue 14 Nov 2017

The process of renting a property can be confusing, there’s lots of paperwork and lengthy contracts to sign. To make things clearer we’ve compiled a guide to help tenants understand what certain terms mean.

Renting Jargon – What does it mean?

Tenant: that’s you!

Landlord: the owner of the property that is being rented out.

Tenancy agreement: a tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that sets out the legal terms and conditions of a tenancy. A tenancy can either be periodic (running on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis) or for a fixed term (running for a set period).


What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)?

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is the most commonly used tenancy agreement and is usually for a fixed period of six to twelve months. This agreement sets out your and your landlords rights and responsibilities during your tenancy. When an Assured Shorthold Tenancy ends, provided the tenant remains in the property, it will continue as a periodic tenancy unless the tenant signs a renewal agreement.

Renewing my tenancy agreement

At the end of the fixed term tenancy, tenants and landlords can choose to renew the tenancy for another fixed term, although it is not essential. It does, however, provide long term security for both the landlord and tenant. Landlords may ask a tenant to sign a renewal if they want to change the terms of the tenancy agreement, which could include increasing the rent.

What is a break clause?

A break clause is provision that is built into a tenancy agreement which enables either the landlord or the tenant, or both, to end the tenancy early.

Absent landlord: when a landlord is described as “absent”, it means they cannot be contacted directly. In this case, the managing or letting agent would be the first point of contact.

What does a credit search reference involve?

Before signing a tenancy agreement, you will be referenced by your letting agent or landlord. Many agents and individual landlords use external companies who will undertake a credit and affordability check along with employee and landlord references to confirm your employment details and salary. Agents and landlords also have to carry out 'Right to Rent' checks, which means  they will have to see either your passport or driving licence (and full birth certificate) to verify your identification. 

PW: this refers to the frequency of rental payment and means per week.

PCM: refers to a rental occurrence and stands for per calendar month.

Guarantor: someone who agrees to sign the tenancy agreement, effectively guaranteeing that they will undertake the full obligations of the contract on your behalf if you default on your obligations under the agreement. If for some reason you cannot pay the rent, the guarantor will be responsible for making the payments.

Deposit/Security deposit: landlords will ask new tenants to pay a tenancy deposit to cover any future damage to the property or unpaid rent. The deposit is usually equivalent to six weeks rent but the landlord can choose to set the deposit at any amount.

Application fee: a sum of money paid to the landlord or letting agent to reserve a rental property before signing the tenancy agreement. If you decide to withdraw your application for the tenancy, this is normally non-refundable. If the tenancy goes ahead, the amount of the application fee is usually deducted from the first month’s rent.

Inventory and Schedule of Condition: this is a check list of the current contents and condition of a property which is undertaken to ensure that the property is left in the same condition in which it was originally let. It can cover cleanliness and the state and age of fixtures and fittings such as plug sockets, furniture, windows etc. At the start of the tenancy, there should be an inventory to “check in” and then again at the end of the tenancy to “check out”. Agents and landlords may use an ARLA or APIP member to carry out the inventory.

Client Money Protection (CMP): a scheme that protects money paid by a tenant to their letting agent or landlord. It is important to note that CMP iS a legal requirement  not all agents and landlords are covered. By using an ARLA Propertymark Protected member, you can guarantee that your money will be safe.

Tenancy deposit scheme rules

Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP): your landlord must register your deposit with one of the three Government-authorised schemes (Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or The Dispute Service) within 30 days (14 days in Northern Ireland) of you paying it. They must also give you the details of which scheme is used, your Tenancy Deposit Protection Certificate and additional information (known as Prescribed Information) which explains how to get the money back at the end of your tenancy and what to do if you and your landlord or agent disagree on the amount to be returned.

Redress: if you have a dispute with your landlord, the case can be referred to a neutral expert to resolve – this is known as redress. All letting agents are required to sign up to a property redress scheme, so make sure to note down which scheme your agent is registered with. ARLA Propertymark licensed members in England and Wales will belong to either The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property or the Property Redress Scheme. ARLA Propertymark Licensed members in Scotland fall under the remit of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).

What are the rules around subletting a property?

Subletting is where a tenant lets part or all of their rental property to someone else. You must get permission from your landlord before subletting a property, otherwise, you could be in breach of your rental agreement and your landlord can take legal action against you.

Managing Agent: an agent or company who is responsible under an agency agreement for the maintenance and management of the property. Not all properties are professionally managed so your landlord may be responsible for the maintenance of the property.

Fixtures and fittings: items that are usually included in a rental property such as curtains, carpets, blinds, light fittings, kitchen units and appliances. In some cases, it may also include furniture. It is advisable to check what is provided prior to signing the letting agreement.

Dilapidation: damage to a property or contents that is considered to go beyond acceptable wear and tear.

Notice period: the period of time that a tenant or landlord must give to end the tenancy agreement. It is usually one month for tenants and a minimum of two months for a landlord and must be served in line with the rental period. 

Arrears: unpaid rent that is overdue or outstanding. 

John German Lettings can help you find your new home, for a step by step guide on renting a property click on the link below.

"Maria, I would just like to thank you for all your help and support, answering mail over the weekends and all the extra info provided. You truly are an asset to John German. "
Sharon - Happy Buyer

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