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Tenants | FAQs

Below are some questions we are frequently asked by our Tenants...

Q:     I've found a property, what happens now?

A:     All prospective tenants over 18 who will be living at the property will be asked to complete an application form and pay the reduced "additional tenant" fee. We will also ask for proof of identity (ie. photo driving licence, passport). At this stage you will pay the administration fee(s) as detailed in our Tenants Charges page in order for credit checks etc. to be carried out. If you are under 35 then a guarantor would also be necessary and the appropriate form completed by the guarantor and guarantor fees applied.

Q:    What type of checks do you do if I apply for a tenancy with you?

A:    Zed Lettings undertake the following checks for ALL our tenancy applications (we do not leave this up to third parties - we undertake these personally):

  • Electronic Credit Check - to ensure that you do not have a history of CCJs for non-payment
  • Proof of Residency Check - typically recent utility/bank statements
     If you are a non-UK citizen of the EEU you will need to provide us with evidence of official permission to live in the UK - "Right to Rent" status - for the term of the proposed tenancy
  • Physical Identity Check - ensuring you are who you say you are (typically passport/photo driving licence ID)
  • Current and/or Previous Landlord checks - ensuring that you have not previously been evicted for rent arrears or property damage etc.
  • Current Employer Check - ensuring that you are able to pay the rent for your chosen property
  • Current House Inspection - ensuring that you keep your current house in good order
  • Additional further background Social / Web Checks
In addition to this, Zed Lettings liaises closely with local Police to ensure that all our properties are let to the most appropriate tenants, and to ensure the safety of our own staff in all aspects of maintaining these tenancies.

These comprehensive checks ensure that we meet our landlord obligations as far as practically possible and ensures that you have the means to pay the ongoing rent so that you do not experience any difficulties by applying for properties which you cannot financially afford.

HOWEVER, if any of these checks (within reason) comes back unfavourable, this does not mean that you will not still be accepted for a tenancy with Zed Lettings as we take the whole application information into account and can discuss and prepare a case to the landlord for negotiation if possible. You MUST ensure that you tell us of anything adverse that may affect your application in relation to the above so that we can decide whether to go forward with your application or not, thus saving you the potential admin fee.

Q:     What size of property can I claim for with Housing Benefit?

A:     Local Housing Allowance rates are broken down into room rates which apply depending on the number of household members occupying the property, and the Housing Department decides how many rooms you need according to the following criteria:

One bedroom is allowed for the following people:

  • a couple
  • someone who is 16 or over
  • two children under age 10
  • two children of the same sex under 16
  • any other child
  • from 1 April 2011 an additional bedroom for a non-resident carer can be allowed where you or your partner require overnight care

From April 2011, the maximum number of rooms that a family can receive Local Housing Allowance for has been restricted to four bedrooms.     If your family requires five bedrooms or more, your Local Housing Allowance will be calculated on the four bedroom rate.

Aged under 35 or living in shared accommodation

If you are aged under 35 and live on your own or you live in shared accommodation we use the shared accommodation rate to calculate your local housing allowance.

From 1 January 2012 the shared accommodation rate was extended to people under 35 living on their own who rent from a private landlord.     If you are aged between 25 and 34 and were already receiving housing benefit on 1 January 2012, you will move to the shared accommodation rate:

  • at the end of the nine months protection period if you are receiving protection from the April 2011 changes
  • on the anniversary of your claim, if you made a claim on or after 1 April 2011, but before 1 January 2012

Exemptions from the shared accommodation rate

If you are under 35 and live alone, the shared accommodation rate does not apply to you if you are:

  • Under 35, living in shared or self contained accommodation and:
    • get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance
    • you are a care leaver under the age of 22
  • Aged 25 to 34, living in self contained accommodation and:
    • have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostels specialising in rehabilitation and resettling within the community (to benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community)
    • are managed under active multi-agency management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)

Which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to me?

The Local Housing Allowance that your housing benefit is based on will be the rate at the date you make your claim.     Although the LHA rate is the amount used in the calculation of your housing benefit, it is not necessarily the amount you will receive as this is dependent on your income, savings and personal circumstances.

Please note: "Bedroom Tax" does not apply to privately rented houses - this tax has already been considered and applied in the above rulings.

Q:     Do I have to pay a deposit? Why?

A:     In the majority of cases - Yes. Most landlords require a deposit (or bond) in addition to an advance monthly rental payment. The bond is held until the end of the tenancy agreement where it will be returned to you when the property check-out inventory has beencompleted and we are satisfied that the property and associated contents have been returned in good order. If you are in rent arrears, or there is damage to the property, then all - or part of - the bond will be used to carry out any required repairs or replace missing/broken contents.

SOME of our landlords MAY allow you to pay your bond in installments - this will be a condition of your tenancy that you ensure regular payments are made to cover the bond stated for the property within the first 6 months of the tenancy, and could result in you losing the tenancy should you not make up this deposit amount. Please check with Zed Lettings as to whether the property you are interested in allows this.

SOME of our properties MAY also take "paper bonds" - this is a council-led scheme which allows for a tenancy agreement to proced with little or no bond up-front. It is then a condition of the "paper bond" that the tenant makes regular payments within the first 6 months of the tenancy in order to make up the full bond. Again, this could result in you losing the tenancy should you not make up the paper bond amount. Please check with Zed Lettings as to whether the property you are interested in allows this (most of our properties identify this on the "Paper Bond Allowed?" section of the Lettings Restrictions).

It is highly advisable that tenants take out insurance to cover the landlord's fixtures, fittings and any contents he may leave at the property. This is a small amount, payable monthly, and ensures that accidental damage is covered. Giving you the opportunity to recover your full deposit.*

Q:     What is a Pet Bond then?

A:     A "pet bond" may be requested by a landlord where you are wanting to bring your pet with you into the property. This is an additional amount - £150 - which may be payable per pet - depending on the make/model of your pet!

This additional bond amount aims to cover any damage specifically caused by your pet during the tenancy, or to ensure that any flea treatment required to carpets/furnishings etc. prior to move out is undertaken as appropriate - this amount may be negotiable and is solely at the discretion of the landlord.

Q:     Who holds the deposit?

A:     It is law that ALL bonds taken as part of a tenancy agreement MUST be protected in a Government authorised deposit protection scheme (as from 6th April 2007). This ensures that your deposit is safe and that all or part of it will be returned to you as and when required. Zed Lettings' deposits are held with "My Deposits" and funds held in a designated bond account, which is audited by the scheme annually to ensure compliance.

Q:     Can Rent Arrears be offset against the Deposit?

A:     Yes: The deposit is held by the Landlord against 'Damage and Breach of the Tenancy Agreement'. Non payment of rent constitutes a Breach of the Tenancy Agreement.

However, a Tenant can still raise a Dispute with MyDeposits if the Landlord deducts Rent Arrears and the Tenant can prove that the non-payment of the rent was due to a Breach of the Tenancy Agreement by the Landlord.

When raising a Dispute with MyDeposits it is advisable for Tenants to settle all rent arrears before raising the dispute.

In short, you can deduct Rent Arrears (and unpaid bills) but you may be still challenged.

Q:     What is a tenancy agreement?

A:     A tenancy agreement/lease is a legally binding contract signed by yourself as the tenant, and the landlord of the property you're renting - an "Assured Shorthold Tenancy" (AST). This AST agreement sets out the landlord's obligations to you, and your obligations to the landlord with regard to care of their property and the upkeep of gardens etc. It is advisable that tenants read and understand the terms before signing. Most Assured Shorthold Tenancies are for a minimum 6 month period, but if both parties agree, this can subsequently roll on to a "periodic tenancy" which is based on a month by month agreement, but which does not affect the rights of either party in any way. You will not be charged any resign fees for rolling onto a periodic!

Q:     What's a property inventory?

A:     A comprehensive property inventory (with photographs) is completed by Zed Lettings (and agreed/signed by yourselves as tenants and ourselves as agents for the landlord) prior to you taking up the property at the commencement of the tenancy. This inventory is a document that records the condition of the property and any fixtures, fittings, furniture and white goods left by the landlord at sign-up. This is counter-signed as an accurate record by Zed Lettings staff and by you as a tenant. We will provide you with a copy of this Inventory (and all photos) and your landlord will also receive a copy, so that there is complete transparency in what you have signed for.

Before leaving at the end of your rental term, the same inventory is double-checked to ensure that the property and any contents are returned in the same condition as before the let (allowing for normal wear and tear). This is undertaken at check-out and is always undertaken by Zed Lettings and yourself, so that you have the opportunity to discuss any issues and discuss any potential bond deductions at the same time.

Q:     Am I responsible for any maintenance or repairs on the property?

A:     The landlord is responsible for ensuring that most maintenance and repairs are undertaken, including all exterior "furniture" such as gutters and drains (where not blocked by tenant mis-use) etc. Safety issues such as the installation and supply of utilities - gas, water and electricity - is also the responsibility of the landlord.

However, as a tenant you are responsible for ensuring that you immediately notify Zed Lettings of anything requiring repair and to ensure that you and any other people living in or visiting the property do not damage any of the property's internal or external fixtures and fittings, and also that you maintain outside areas appropriately - as agreed and documented within your tenancy agreement, and to the extent of any inventory photographs taken at check-in.

You are also responsible for replacing "like-for-like" light bulbs and changing the batteries in smoke alarms when required. It is the tenants responsibility to ensure that all areas of the property (particularly around dustbins) are kept free from refuse as the landlord is not responsible for any infestation of fleas, mice or other rodents where it is found to be the cause of tenants' habitation.

The tenancy agreement will set out the responsibilities of landlord and tenant for the maintenance of the property and inspections will be carried out every three months (which will include documented/agreed paperwork and accompanying photographs) to ensure that the property is being maintained in the proper manner.

Q:     How many sets of keys do I get and when can I have them?

A:     We do not release ANY keys to you until the agreed date and commencement of your signed tenancy agreement - under ANY circumstances.   Check-ins take place at the property, where you will be walked-round and will sign-off the comprehensive inventory, take incoming meter readings, and THEN you will be given the keys to your new home.

One set of keys for each door is provided. Should you require extra sets of keys you should ask permission firstly, and should you lose these keys - it will be your responsibility to replace at your cost.

Q:     Can I redecorate or make alterations to the property I'm renting?

A:     You should ALWAYS speak to Zed Lettings prior to undertaking ANY redecoration/alterations to the property! We will discuss with the landlord and gain written consent that will be subsequently placed on file so that there is no mis-understandings on checkout.

Q:     I've got a bad credit rating and other Lettings Agents won't offer me a tenancy - what can I do?

A:     If you've seen the house you want but are struggling to get your first steps onto the property rental ladder due to bad credit rating, then there are several easy ways to increase your rating and enable you to rent the house of your dreams -

Firstly, check your credit status.     Contact Experian, Callcredit or Equifax for a copy of your credit history and then heck that it is correct and take steps to inform the relevant companies to change anything where either your circumstances have altered or they have any incorrect data listed.

Ensure that you pay all your bills regularly.     Late or missed payments - especially for important things such as poll tax etc., water rates etc., as well as CCJ's will have a negative impact on your score so make sure you maintain all regular payments.

Make sure you're registered on the electoral roll.     Traceable proof of your current (and past) residency helps your credit history. Go to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk to download a form.

Cancel any unused credit cards.     If you have credit cards that you no longer use, then cancel them as unused credit cards may reduce your credit scoring.

Improve your standing by saving regularly,     no matter how small the amount.

All these things will help to increase your credit rating and ultimately help you through the creditworthy checks that ALL Estate and Letting Agents need to go through to help you find a home.

PLEASE NOTE: Zed Lettings take the "whole application" into account when undertaking rental checks. A bad credit reference will not necessarily mean you are not accepted - please discuss any issues with us prior to making an application and we can advise you.

Q:     I've only just moved to the UK - will that affect my reference and credit checks?

A:     If you have just moved to the UK we will need references from professional people who knew you whilst abroad, and the references must be verifiable. You will be asked to complete an application form and we will ask for proof of identity and proof of your residency and "right to rent" status.

Q:     Can the landlord increase the rent agreed?

A:     Rent reviews will be detailed within your tenancy agreement. The details of the current tenancy agreement cannot be changed by either party until it has run past it's end date or unless mutualy agreed by both parties. If a rent review is undertaken and a rent increase accepted, then a new tenancy will be drawn up and signed for in respect of that new agreement.

Q:     What other things do I have to pay for besides rent?

A:     You will be responsible for the normal daily home costs - including TV licence, Council Tax, Gas and Electric bills, telephone and water charges. It is also advisable that you take out your own contents insurance as the landlord does not insure against loss of ANY of your personal possessions.

Q:     Can the landlord take my stuff if I'm in rent arrears?

A:     Most definitely NOT! The landlord can, however, take you to court for rent arrears and to evict you from the property if needs be. This will be a "last resort action" by the landlord and you should ALWAYS contact Zed Lettings to discuss any financial difficulties you are either having or MAY BE having that will affect your ability to pay your rent on time and we may be able to put a repayment plan in place and guide you through claiming additional benefits to help.

Q:     Can the landlord enter the property without my permission?

A:     Ordinarily, NO! However, please read your tenancy agreement carefully as there are some situations where we are entitled to enter the property after giving you adequate notice in writing. However, in extreme emergencies we may be required to enter the property without this notice. Please read your tenancy agreement.

Q:     I want to leave - what notice should I give?

A:     Your tenancy agreement has clear details of the notice period that you should give the landlord, and conversely that he needs to give you, in order to end your tenancy.

It is advisable that you speak to Zed Lettings as soon as you are aware you want to leave the property so that you are not subject to additional charges because you have not given the correct notice period within the prescribed timescale specified within your agreement, or in the event that you wish to leave early, we can discuss the options available to you, where possible.

Q:     How do I complain about my Landlord?

A:     If you have a complaint about your landlord then you it is advisable that you discuss any issues with Zed Lettings in the first instance.

Q:     How do I complain about Zed Lettings?

A:     Zed Lettings are members of the Property Ombudsman, and as such we have a documented complaints procedure in place. You should initially put your concerns in writing (if you feel that you cannot talk to us confidentially) and direct it to our office address. Your complaint will be acknowledge within 3 working days and investigated as per our complaints procedure - a copy of which will be sent to you alongside your complaint acknowledgement.

Should you remain unsatisfied after our internal complaints procedure has been completed, then you may refer your complaint in writing to the Property Ombudsman. Please note that the Property Ombudsman will not consider any complaints until you have been through our internal complaints process.

 

*terms & conditions apply

 

If you still have questions then call us on 01709 468244 for an informal chat or contact us via this website

Tenants: Contact Us