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A renter's guide

We've put together a brief guide to help you understand the process involved with renting your first home.  We hope you find it a useful starting point. If you'd like to discuss your search for a rental property with us we'd love to hear from you. You can find your local Fenn Wright office here. 

1. Finding a property to rent

Decide on your search location, the type of property you need and the amount of rent you can afford. Then search our online listing now.  And register your requirements with us and we'll give you a call when we have a property that matches what you're looking for.  If you'd prefer to speak to someone, pop into a Fenn Wright office or give us a ring.  You'll find all our contact details here.

You can make appointments to view properties of interest to you by calling us or using the ‘book a viewing’ button in the online listings on this site.

2. Securing a property to rent

When you have found a suitable house or flat to rent, what happens next? You should begin by telling us you want it. We can then start the administrative process of getting the landlords approval in principle and requesting references from you.

3. References

Once the landlord has given their agreement in principle, we will need to make sure that you are a suitable tenant and that you have the ability to pay your rent. We will also want to make sure that you have rented a property without any major problems in the past (if this is applicable). 

To do this we will check references and perform a credit check using the professional referencing provider Letsure. At this point you will be asked for an administration and referencing fee of £125 to £150 + VAT,  along with your permission to conduct the relevant searches. 

We will also ask you to provide the following documents and information:

  • Passport or other photographic proof of identity
  • Proof of your current address (recent utility bill or bank statement)
  • Your bank details including bank name, account number and sort-code
  • Details of your employment - your employer, job title, payroll number, salary, previous employer, etc
  • References from previous landlords – you may be asked to give the details of where you have lived within the last 3 years
If the information highlights any potential of risk to our landlord, you may be asked to provide a guarantor. A guarantor will be contractually liable, both financially and legally, should you fail to pay the rent during your tenancy or in the event of damage to the property. We can discuss this option with you in more detail.

Be aware that should you fail any of the necessary checks, you may not get your fee back, so please, if you think you may difficulties with such checks, discuss this with us early on.

Once we have received satisfactory references we will agree a check-in date with you and we will write to you to confirm the details.

4. The deposit

The final step to securing the property is the deposit. We usually collect the equivalent of 6 weeks rent and this is held for the duration of the tenancy. The deposit is a safety net for the landlord to guard against the cost of replacing or repairing property damaged by you. 

New legislation was introduced to the Housing Act 2004 in April 2007 to help protect all parties with regard to the return of deposits. Landlords and letting agents are required by law to join a tenancy deposit scheme to ensure tenants deposits are safeguarded.

Fenn Wright place all tenant deposit monies with TDS (Tenant Deposit Scheme) an independent, not-for-profit company operated by The Dispute Service Ltd, the UK’s longest established provider of tenancy deposit protection.

5. The inventory

This is an important document. It can often be key in deciding how much of your deposit you get back at the end of your agreement. You should therefore be extremely thorough when you check it.

The inventory is a thorough list detailing the exact condition of the property and its contents on the day you move in. You should go round the property and check the state of each item listed in the inventory. If you spot something that you think is incorrect, you must amend this before signing the document and returning a copy to us. If you don’t provide a signed copy of the inventory to us promptly, then the original version of the inventory we gave to you will be the one that is deemed to be agreed by all.  

At Fenn Wright, we schedule property visits every 3 months in order to check everything is in order and there are no obvious maintenance issues. In addition, there will be a final inventory check the day you are scheduled to move out and it is at this time that dilapidations (if any) will be determined by using the agreed inventory.

6. Tenancy agreements

Fenn Wright will draw up an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement for you to sign. This type of agreement is the most common form of tenancy agreement and sets out the duties of both tenant and landlord. The tenancy agreement is a contract between you and the landlord and specifies certain rights, such as your right to live in the home for the agreed term and your landlord’s right to receive rent for letting the property. It is a legally binding document and you should read and understand it fully before signing it. If you have any questions about the contents we are happy to explain it to you or you may wish to seek independent legal advice.

7. Preparing to move in

The first months rent (and the deposit) have to be provided in cleared funds before the start of the tenancy. This means the money needs to be paid into our bank account and have time to be processed by the bank, before you can collect the keys and move in. We can accept a debit card payment by ‘phone, four days in advance of the move in date, or on the day in the office.

The tenancy agreement and other documentation can be signed on the day unless we have agreed something different with you. Bear in mind that all parties (including guarantors, if relevant) will need to sign before you can take the keys, so plan this in advance.

Fenn Wright will set up a standing order for the rent amount to be paid on the agreed date each month. You will need to check and sign this paperwork.

We will take meter readings the day you move in and provide these with your name(s) and move in date to the relevant suppliers. We will also tell the local council that you have moved in for Council Tax billing purposes. However, after this point it is your responsibility to make sure your accounts with these providers are set-up correctly. You are responsible for paying all utility bills and Council Tax during your tenancy unless other terms have been agreed.

8. Coming to the end of your agreement

As you near the end of your tenancy, Fenn Wright will write to you and let you know if the landlord wishes to continue to rent the property to you and if there is to be any change to the rent charged. Generally, if everything has gone well during your tenancy then the landlord is likely to be agreeable to you staying in the property. Obviously, you can choose whether you extend the agreement and stay, or decide to move out.
 
If you wish to stay, the majority of tenancies are renewed onto another fixed term contract but occasionally (if both parties agree) the tenancy rolls onto a month-to-month agreement, known as a periodic tenancy. With a periodic tenancy the terms and conditions of the original agreement remain valid and, should you wish to move out, you would need to give the landlord one month’s notice. The landlord would need to give you two months’ notice if he wanted you to leave. 

If you decide to move out at the end of your tenancy, remember to check the terms of your agreement for the notice period required.

9. Move out  

If you decide to move out, then it’s worth putting in a bit of work to get the property up to scratch to maximise the chances of getting back your full deposit. As long as the condition of the property is the same as when you moved in, you’ll have no problem. Here’s some suggestions for what you could organise before your check-out appointment: 

1 Check the inventory and any relevant terms in your tenancy agreement
2 Fix or replace anything that you have broken
3 Give the property a thorough clean, including carpets, oven, windows, walls and furniture
4 Tidy up the garden, cut the lawn, weed the borders and clear away rubbish 
5 If it applicable, have the chimneys swept, top-up the oil tank, empty septic tank
6 Remove all of your personal belongings
7 Return all of the keys 

10. Final inventory check

Fenn Wright will meet you at the property on your last day to complete the check out. We will walk around the property with you, checking the inventory. If there is any damage or lack of cleanliness - often described as dilapidations - this will be noted. In some cases, we may need to get cost estimates for the work to make good/clean or replace items. Any issues will be discussed with the landlord before a final cost for dilapidations is determined. Such costs will be deducted from your security deposit and in the event your deposit is not sufficient to cover all costs you will be given a bill for the balance. In the rare circumstance where a sensible agreement about deposit deductions cannot be reached, either party (the landlord and/or the tenant) may ask an independent adjudicator to resolve the dispute, via TDS.

If we are satisfied the property has been left in an acceptable state and your rent account is not in arrears, we will instruct TDS to release your deposit in full, plus interest. Fenn Wright will charge you a check out / deposit release fee and you should refer to your tenancy agreement for details. 
 

11. Tenant fees

Please select your local branch to see tenant fees in your area.
Chelmsford
Colchester
Ipswich
Manningtree
Sudbury
Witham

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