At Hamilton Stiller we pride ourselves on helping our tenant’s with all aspects of renting. Below we have answered some of the more common questions we are asked by tenants. If you have a query which is not listed below please do not hesitate to contact us.
Who will I deal with during my tenancy – the letting agent or landlord?
For property viewings, references, arranging and signing of tenancy agreements and getting you moved in to your rented property the letting agent is normally responsible (however this will depend on the service level taken by the landlord and this should be made clear to you once a holding deposit has been paid). From that point on, your point of contact will once again depend on whether the Landlord instructs the agent to ‘manage’ their property. If the property is ‘managed’ by the agent the tenant will normally report any repairs or tenancy queries to the letting agent, otherwise the tenant and landlord must liaise directly with each other.
The role of a letting agent for a tenant’s
As the agent is employed by the landlord our primary focus is to act in their best interests. However, Hamilton Stiller also understand that tenant’s need guidance and support and we ensure to provide this for you to the best of our abilities. We ensure our tenancy agreement clearly lists the responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant and we make these clear to all tenants before commencing tenancy.
How long does a tenancy last?
Most tenancies are for 6, 12, 18 or 24 months. Where the contract has a break-clause, this normally provides a right for either the Landlord or Tenant to terminate the Agreement 6 months prior to the end of the tenancy – but with a minimum of 2 months notice in writing by either party.
What type of rental agreement is used – can I change or add to it?
For the majority of residential tenancies an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is used. This is normally a contract arranged between the Landlord and Tenant and has the facility to add special requirements, such as an extra item the landlord agrees to supply or possibly a special condition the landlord wishes to enforce for example ensuring the tenant provides a copy of the final bills for utility services at the end of the tenancy.
Who pays for utilities?
Normally the tenant takes over gas, electric, water and council tax bills, unless agreed in writing prior to the commencement of your tenancy. You may find properties such as studio apartments landlords may include all utilities with the rent.
Who will arrange and pay for repairs at the property?
It is the landlord’s responsibility to arrange repairs to the property and any contents such as appliances. However it is the tenant’s responsibility for breakages. The cost of these can be deducted from the deposit unless otherwise agreed. Please note that a tenant should report repairs and breakages as soon as they occur.
If there is work required, can I stop paying the rent?
To withhold rental payments for any reason is very serious. Under the terms of your contract you would be in breach, for which the Landlord could take you to court. If the agent is managing the property it is always best to discuss your concerns first. If the agent is not managing the property then it is recommended to write to the landlord to discuss your concerns. To avoid uncertainty, Hamilton Stiller asks all tenants to report any concerns in writing. If the landlord is managing their own property, then it may be worth taking advice from a solicitor if any significant repair is not dealt with.
Can I rent a room to a friend?
It is important to know that the names of all of the occupiers must be declared on the Assured Shorthold Agreement (AST). If a tenant sublets to a friend and receives rent from this person and this is not detailed on the AST, they will be in breach of contract and breaking the terms of the agreement. Where several people are sharing a property the tenants are ‘jointly and severally’ responsible, which will be listed on the AST. This means each tenant is liable for any breach of agreement and to pay all of the rent.
When do I get my rental deposit returned?
There is a lot of debate around this question. By law landlords or managing agents must arrange for a Deposit or Custodial Deposit Scheme to hold or insure a tenants’ deposit. Deposits cannot be returned on the last day of the tenancy, however must be returned within a maximum of 10 days if there is no dispute.
At the end of a tenancy it is normal practice to carry out a check-out of the property. Once the property has been inspected, the deposit will be returned to the tenant minus any deductions for damages. Hamilton Stiller always encourage landlords to make the process fair for both parties’ by instructing a professional inventory clerk to examine the property. If this route is agreed by the landlord an inventory report and check-in report is prepared at the beginning of the tenancy recording the condition of the property, and then again at the end of the tenancy. This way both parties feel comfortable that there is no bias.