Tenant Guide

Your Simple Guide to Renting with Fortnam Smith and Banwell

We understand that renting a new home can feel overwhelming, especially if you're unsure where to begin. That's why we're here to provide you with all the essential information you need in our straightforward guide to renting your new home.

Finding Your Perfect Property Match:

Before embarking on your search, consider the following factors that may influence your property choices:

  • Rent: Determine how much you can comfortably afford to pay each month.
  • Utilities, Council Tax, and Other Costs: Account for additional expenses such as electricity, gas, water, council tax, telecoms, and service charges if you're considering a flat.
  • Deposit: Typically equivalent to five weeks' rent.
  • Upfront Rent: Landlords may request several months' rent in advance, as it is not capped like the deposit.
  • Location: Consider the impact on transportation costs, especially commuting to work.
  • Local Amenities: Evaluate proximity to schools, nurseries, healthcare facilities, sports centers, and entertainment options.
  • Furnished or Unfurnished: Plan for the purchase of necessary white goods and furnishings, as most properties come unfurnished.
  • Pet-Friendly: If you have pets, consider additional rent costs and ensure the suitability of the property.
  • We recommend pre-registering with us, so we can promptly process your application for landlord approval once you find your ideal property.

What To Do When You Find Your Ideal New Home: Once you've identified a property you wish to rent, we will submit your application and supporting information to the landlord for review.

Holding Deposit: If the landlord agrees to proceed with referencing, you must pay a holding deposit equal to one week's rent. This secures the property and becomes part of your security deposit upon tenancy commencement. Please note that if you withhold information during referencing that affects your suitability as a tenant, your holding deposit may not be refunded.

At this stage, a moving-in day is typically arranged.

Referencing: After the landlord provisionally accepts your application, we will initiate tenant checks and request supporting documentation, including:

  • Credit Checks: Verification of your credit rating and confirmation of no outstanding County Court Judgments (CCJs) in your name.
  • Affordability: Submission of three months' bank statements and payslips.
  • Employer: Contacting your current employer to verify employment status and job security.
  • Address: Providing a utility bill from your current residence dated within the last month.
  • Identity: Presenting photo ID, such as a driving license or passport. If unavailable, alternative proof of identity can be discussed.
  • Previous Landlord Reference: Requesting references from your landlords of the past three years. If issues arise with landlords from other agents, please inform us so we can liaise with your previous letting agent if needed.
  • Right-to-Rent: Ensuring compliance with legal requirements. If necessary, alternative checks can be explored and discussed.
  • Guarantor: In cases where it's your first time renting or if referencing checks aren't satisfied, you may require a guarantor who meets the referencing requirements. The guarantor becomes responsible for rent non-payment, property damage beyond the deposit value, and any additional costs if you fail to meet practical and financial commitments.

Please Note: Failure to provide the required information promptly or withdrawing from the process will result in the loss of your holding deposit, unless the landlord withdraws their consent.

Tenancy Agreements: Most tenancies are Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements, which we'll prepare for you once reference checks are completed. Before signing, please carefully read the agreement, as it's a legal document. Let us know if you have any questions or would like to discuss any aspect of it. This agreement safeguards both you and your landlord in case of disputes during your tenancy.

Security Deposits: Before your tenancy begins, a security deposit equivalent to 5 weeks' rent (or 6 weeks' rent if annual rent exceeds £50,000) is required. 

Rent: Your first rent payment must be made before moving in.

Starting Your Tenancy: After you've signed the tenancy agreement and we've received your deposit and upfront rent, we'll provide you with the keys. However, before moving your belongings, there are a few essential tasks to complete:

Check in: Once keys have been collected fro our office you will be starting your move into the property. 

Get to Know Your Property: If required, we will be able to inform you of information related to electricty, water rates/meter, stop cocks. It's important to also check the validity of the Gas Safety and Electric Safety Certificates and ensure emergency instructions have been provided.

Inventories:  documenting the condition of walls, floors, fixtures, furnishings, and any existing marks or damage. It's crucial to carefully review this inventory, as unreported damage or missing items may affect the return of your security deposit. The Inventory will be issued to you via email. If you have any access issues, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Utilities: We'll record meter readings during check-in and inform utility companies of the change in tenancy. It's essential for you to also take meter readings and notify your suppliers to avoid any discrepancies and prevent being charged for the previous tenant's usage.

End of Tenancy: When your tenancy ends, it's important to leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in, considering normal wear and tear. The inventory issued during check-in will identify any issues, and items for which you're responsible will be quoted and included in your deposit statement.

Permitted Fees: As required by law, you won't be charged for referencing at the start of your tenancy. However, you may still incur fees for late rent payment, lost keys or security devices, early termination of the tenancy, lost, broken, or damaged items, and damage resulting from failure to report repair and maintenance issues.

Tenant Fees Scedule:

  • Holding Deposit (per tenancy): One Week's Rent. This amount reserves the property. Please note that it will be withheld if any relevant person (including any guarantor(s)) withdraws from the tenancy, fails a Right-to-Rent check, provides materially significant false or misleading information, or fails to sign their tenancy agreement (and/or Deed of Guarantee) within 15 calendar days (or another mutually agreed Deadline for Agreement in writing).
  • Security Deposit (per tenancy. Rent under £50,000 per year): Five Week's Rent. This deposit covers damages or defaults on the part of the tenant during the tenancy.
  • Security Deposit (per tenancy. Rent of £50,000 or over per year): Six Week's Rent. This deposit covers damages or defaults on the part of the tenant during the tenancy.
  • Unpaid Rent: Interest at 3% above the Bank of England Base Rate will be charged from the Rent Due Date until paid, in order to pursue non-payment of rent. Please note that this will not be charged until the rent is more than 14 days in arrears.
  • Lost Key(s) or other Security Device(s): Tenants are responsible for the actual cost of replacing any lost key(s) or other security device(s). If the loss requires changing locks, the tenant will be charged for the actual costs of a locksmith, new lock, and replacement keys for the tenant, landlord, or any other persons requiring keys. Additional charges of £15 per hour (including VAT) will apply for the time taken to replace lost key(s) or other security device(s).
  • Variation of Contract (Tenant's Request): £50 (including VAT) per agreed variation. This fee covers the costs associated with taking the landlord's instructions, as well as the preparation and execution of new legal documents.
  • Change of Sharer (Tenant's Request): £50 (including VAT) per replacement tenant or any reasonable costs incurred if higher. This fee covers the costs associated with taking the landlord's instructions, conducting new tenant referencing and Right-to-Rent checks, deposit registration, as well as the preparation and execution of new legal documents.
  • Early Termination (Tenant's Request): If the tenant wishes to end the tenancy early, they will be responsible for the landlord's costs in re-letting the property, as well as all rent due under the tenancy until the start date of the replacement tenancy. These costs will not exceed the maximum amount of rent outstanding on the tenancy.

If there is anything that you don't fully understand of would like explaine in greater detail, contact our friendly and helpful lettings team who would be more than happy to assist you.

Ready to start your rental journey? Register your property requitements with us today.

 Tenant Guide

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