Below we've compliled an extensive list of common questions and answers that we trust will be of help to you in deciding whether renting is the right choice for you. With a very few rare exceptions, it usually is.
We see many differing situations and circumstances that can't all be covered on this website. Unlike some agents, we work hard with our Landlords to find the right fit of tenant and the right Landlord for you. So please don't think that we can't help if an answer isn't here. Granted, we can't guarantee to assist in every situation, but we'll always try our best to do so.
Once you have identified a property you like, we ask you to complete an offer form which forms the basis of the terms of the tenancy contract and to pay the application fee. At this point, the application fees become non-refundable. All applications are strictly subject to contract. Reservation of a property is not a guarantee of acceptance.
The minimum term an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement can run for is six months and up to a maximum of three years. Subject to the requirements of the Landlord, we usually work on the basis of a twelve month term. A break clause can be entered into the Tenancy Agreement where either the Landlord or Tenant feels at the outset that there may be a need to bring the Tenancy to an end after six months. Terms in excess of twelve months are strictly subject to the approval of the Landlord.
We register all deposits with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), one of the deposit protection schemes authorised by The Department for Communities and Local Government. As a custodial scheme, we transfer the deposit money to them. Once in their care it cannot be released within the first 28 days and at the end of the tenancy both you and us must approve the allocation of monies to be returned. Where any party fails to respond at the end of the term, the active party can apply for return of the deposit with the assistance of a magistrate. The DPS also provide a dispute resolution service should there be disagreement regarding any deductions proposed following the termination of the tenancy.
In applying for and during a tenancy you would normally be expected to meet the costs of the following items:
- The application fee which includes all referencing charges
- The ongoing rent, payable monthly in advance
- The tenancy deposit, payable in advance
- Household bills, including council tax
- The costs of repair following accidental or malicious damage by the tenant or visitor
- The cost of re-referencing when requested
- The cost pro-rata of reletting the property following early departure
- Admin fees for late or dishonoured payments of rent
- Legal costs arising through failure of responsibility
The reference agency require the combined annual income to be at least 30 x the monthly rent. For example, if the monthly rent is £750 per calendar month, the combined annual income for the household would usually need to be a minimum of £22,500 (30 x £750). As some benefits are not acceptable forms of income, we advise that you speak to us for guidance before commencing an application. Subject to individual circumstances, a Guarantor may be required.
We usually ask for a six week Tenancy Deposit and the first month's rent before you move in to the property. This must be received in cleared funds before keys are released to you. Please note that the Landlord reserves the right to vary the amount of required Tenancy deposit. A variation would usually occur as a result of information received through referencing or a request for a pet at the property.
Referencing gives the Landlord an overview of your character and an indication of your ability ability to pay the rent. As we have a contractural duty of care to safeguard the interests of the Landlord, we do not allow any person aged 18 or over to form a Tenancy without undergoing referencing. If an occupier turns 18 during the term of the tenancy, he or she will be required to undergo referencing at the point of renewal.
Our referencing partner will undertake an in-depth check, with the principal areas of interest being your financial background, your employment status and level of income, your address history, and confirming your identification.
Something like an occasional late payment should not prevent you from passing a credit reference. However, a prospective tenant with either a County Court Judgement, Individual Voluntary Arrangement or Bankruptcy Order would not pass referencing successfully. For this reason we do ask at the outset of the application if you have a CCJ, IVA or are registered Bankrupt. Don't lie and pretend you don't if you know that you do. You will simply lose out with the loss of your reference fee. It's not worth it.
Unless the Landlord chose to approve your application by ignoring your financial history, it would be automatically declined, even where there was a Guarantor available.
Where there is a joint application for the property it may be possible to create a Tenancy where the financially affected person with a CCJ or IVA is accepted on the basis of permitted occupancy only. However, this is strictly subject to the Landlord's consent and agreement of our insurer. Please ask for further guidance.
A quick credit check can be undertaken if you suspect you may have a CCJ registered against you but are not completely sure. We charge £12 per person for the check, this amount being refunded through discount against the full cost of referencing. Call us on 023 8045 7864 to arrange this. Lines open today at 8.30am.
Having accounts makes it much easier for self-employed persons to be referenced. It is advisable to ensure that you have the fallback of a Guarantor before commencing with an application as, more often than not, one is usually required. If you have a new business without trading accounts please speak to us before commencing with an application. We will then check with the reference agency for guidance.
Due to the nature of benefit payments and that benefits can be withdrawn, payment of the rent is not guaranteed. Most Landlords are therefore adverse to accepting Tenants in receipt of full benefit claims but we will try to help. Without exception, a Guarantor would be required.
Unless the Landlord chooses to decline your application prior to commencement of referencing, application fees are not refundable under any circumstances.
If you change your mind about a property once an approved application has commenced or you cannot for any reason complete the referencing process to a satisfactory standard, all application fees will be forfeited.
Unless a property is advertised to the contrary, pets are accepted only with the written permission of the Landlord. If you have or plan to get a pet, you must disclose it before you move in. Failure to do would be deemed a breach of contract and your tenancy may be brought to an end early. The Landlord reserves the right to ask for an increased tenancy deposit where a pet is to be included on the tenancy. Please ask for further guidance.
Smoking within the property is not allowed. All Tenants are responsible for ensuring that their guests respect the terms of the tenancy contract.
The installation of satellite or cable services must only be undertaken once written consent has been issued by either River Sales & Lettings or directly from the Landlord, such permission requiring installation by a suitable qualified professional with full liability accepted by the Tenant. Please ask for further guidance.
Rent & Payment of Bills
When signing the tenancy documentation we ask you to complete a standing order mandate for the rent. A standing order is different to a direct debit, as the amount is fixed and cannot be varied or cancelled by us or the Landlord. Payment is taken monthly, three days before the rent is due. We regret that due to time constraints we cannot process rents on a weekly basis.
You may if you wish pre-pay the rent for the full term of the Tenancy. Unless the Landlord gives permission to the contrary, you would still be required to undergo referencing. When a Tenant chooses to pay in full upfront, the whole of the rent is passed to the Landlord at the outset of the Tenancy.
These costs are met in full by the Landlord.
Unless otherwise advised at the outset of the Tenancy, Tenants are responsible for payment of all gas, electricity, and water consumed during the Tenancy. In addition, Tenants are responsible for payment of Council Tax, telephone, satellite and cable services where supplied. The Landlord is responsible for all building and maintenance charges imposed by the Freeholder, where applicable, insurance of the building, and his own contents, fixtures and fittings. The Landlord does not provide insurance for the Tenant's contents.
Keys & Right of Access
We provide one full set of front door keys to each named tenant and one set of all remaining doors in the property.
If we are managing the property we will retain one working set of keys for every lock in the property. Keys are stored in a secure key safe and coded to avoid identification if lost in the street. Naturally the Landlord will also hold a set of keys.
Ordinarily no. However, where (a) there is a genuine emergency and access would prevent loss of life, injury, or damage to the structure of the building, property or neighbouring building or property, or (b) an entry order has been granted by the courts, entry may be gained without your permission. In all other situations you would be given at least 24 hours notice.
Property Repairs & Inspections
Generally the Landlord or the freeholder's managing agent, if applicable, is responsible for all repairs to the property and any fixtures and fittings contained within. A tenant would be reasonably expected to undertake small maintenance matters like changing light bulbs or the battery in a smoke alarm, unblocking a sink, changing a fuse, mowing and weeding the garden etc. Where a repair is necessitated through improper use, accidental or deliberate damage, you would ordinarily be liable for the cost of the repair. A tenant would also be liable for the cost of a call out where the fault is diagnosed as user error and prior instructions for correct use have been provided, or the repair required something that could have been easily undertaken by the tenant, such as changing a light bulb.
At the outset of the tenancy we will advise you on who to contact in the event of a property maintenance matter arising during the tenancy. Please note that we cannot instruct repairs on a property that is not managed by River Lettings Ltd.
If you wish to utilise a contractor of your choice we would ask you to consult with either ourselves or the Landlord, as applicable, prior to instructing repair. In some circumstances, use of a non-approved contractor may invalidate the insurances of the Landlord or Freeholder.
Not where we are managing the property. We will arrange repairs for the Landlord. Use of a non-approved contractor may invalidate the insurances of the Landlord or Freeholder. We cannot guarantee payment where a non-approved contractor is instructed without prior consent. Where the property is managed directly by the Landlord we would advise you to discuss any repair with him prior to instructing a contractor and to obtain confirmation in writing that the Landlord will settle the bill.
Where we are looking after the property, we arrange the first inspection one month after the commencement of the tenancy and thereafter every three months. On longer term tenanies we may, where requested by the Landlord, reduce the inspection rate to one every six months. To ensure reasonable standards of health and safety are being maintained and to allow us to fulfil our contractual obligations with the Landlord, you are legally required to allow access when requested.
Changes to the Tenancy
Unless the property is required back by the Landlord or you have been a troublesome Tenant, Landlords are usually quite happy to consider renewing a Tenancy beyond a fixed term. You simply need to advise that you would wish to do so.
If you have reached a point in the tenancy where you can make use of a break clause or are in a periodic tenancy (essentially a rolling monthly contract), you can give the Landlord one calendar months notice at anytime, the notice commencing from the next rent due date.
For example, lets say your rent is next due on 13/10/2017.
In order to be effective, you would have to ensure that your notice was given in writing and received by us or your Landlord, as applicable, BEFORE your next rent due date. All tenants have to sign the notice letter for it to be accepted. In this example, the last day of the tenancy would be 12/11/2017. Similarly, a Landlord must give two calendar months notice, such notice to served in the same manner.
Unless your tenancy has progressed into periodic status, all tenancies are for a fixed term. Agreement to a tenant's request to end a tenancy early is solely at the Landlords discretion. Where agreement is given it is usually on the condition that the tenant continues to pay the rent up to the day before the start of the new tenancy, or a break-clause can be used, or the end of the tenancy, whichever is earlier. A contribution toward the letting fees that would by due to the Agent by the Landlord would also be payable, unless the end of the tenancy or a break-clause is reached. Ask for further guidance.
The tenancy agreement states that all tenants are jointly and severally liable, meaning that each tenant is equally as responsible as the other tenants for the whole performance of the tenancy. Where a relationship breaks down resulting in one of the tenants moving out or a sharer needs to move on, the departed tenant remains liable under the terms of the agreement.
An application can be made by any party to request the removal of the departed tenant from the agreement. Such requests must be made in writing and signed by all tenants, including the tenant proposing to vacate the property (separate letters would be accepted where a relationship had broken down).
Removal requests will be considered on an individual basis and may require re-referencing of the remaining tenant and associated guarantor, where applicable, in order to ensure affordability. The remaining tenant would be liable to us for all costs involved in re-referencing and the necessary amendment of the tenancy agreement, though it is down to you whether you choose to reclaim these costs from the departed tenant. Please ask if you require further advice.
No. To do so would be an immediate breach of the tenancy agreement which is legally binding. Following such a breach, an application could be made to the Courts to terminate the tenancy early. Additionally you may also invalidate the terms of protective insurances the Landlord or River Lettings Ltd may have in place on the property and your tenancy, thereby greatly reducing the level of protection for you. It is not a difficult process to add another person to a tenancy and can usually be done in a week. Please ask for guidance should you wish to bring someone else into the property.
Subject to the approval of the Landlord it is usually permissable to replace a tenant with another during the tenancy. Such a request would need to be made in writing and signed by all tenants, including the tenant proposing to vacate the property. This is a chargeable service with all costs to be met by you. Please ask if you require further guidance.
The information on this page gives a very broad overview and we welcome questions more suited to your own personal circumstances. Please feel free to telephone us on 023 8045 7864, or if you are an existing Tenant, contact us via the contact console at "My Property Info"