Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of our more frequently asked questions……and the answers.

If you have a question which has not answered below, please contact us & we will be happy to advise you.

What Do I Do First?

There are three ways to start looking for your new home…

1. Register on line here – IT’S EASY. Just let us have as much detail as possible and we will begin looking for a home for you straight away.

2. Contact us directly at our offices in either St Neots, or Godmanchester. We will be able to find out what is really important to you and will organise appropriate properties to view.

3. Call into either of our St Neots or Godmanchester offices. If we have a suitable property, we will try to take you to view it straight away.

I can't view during normal working hours. Can I still get to view the property?

Easy! We are open from 9.00 until 5.30 during the week, but we can show properties up until 6pm if you make an appointment.

Also, we are open from 9.00 until 5.00pm on Saturdays for viewings. However, please call us for an appointment if you would like to view on a Saturday as we may be out of the office with someone else if you just turn up.

Once I find a home I like, what happens next?

In order to secure a property, a refundable holding deposit if one week’s rent is payable to secure the property while we carry out checks on behalf of the landlord. This payment ensures that no one else will view the property and for us to commence the referencing procedure and produce the legal documents needed. We have the facility for you to pay by Credit or Debit card if it helps.

Tell me more about the references you need?

We will need the following:

1. Completion of our referencing form. – In order to assist you in finding the right property speedily, it is important that you supply us with mandatory information to reference you properly. When completing the reference application form, you will need to have the following information/supporting documents with you:

o The full address of your current property, including your postcode

o If less than 3 years at your current address, a list of all your addresses for the last 3 years with postcodes and dates of occupation

2. Two forms of ID from a choice of, driving licence / passport / birth certificate

3. If you are currently renting, your current landlords address and contact details.

4. Employment reference which stating how long you have been employed, how much you are earning per annum and what type of contract you hold.

The above references must be handed into to our office no more than 3 days after paying your administration charge.

Once satisfactory references have been received, we will contact you and arrange the soonest convenient date for you to move in. At the same time we will forward you a copy of the Tenancy Agreement.

How quickly can I move in?

This will be very much dependant on how quickly you get the referencing information to us. Once you have gone though this procedure – usually 24- 48 hours. We would be in a position to set a date. We normally work within a 5 day window. However, if you are in a rush, we will do everything we can for you.

Tell me about different types of tenancy options?

99% of the tenancies we draw up will be Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements and the term of tenancy will normally be for a minimum period of 6 months. There are a number of other types of Agreement that can be used and you will be advised which one you will be required to sign before your tenancy starts. Any tenancy agreement is a legally binding contact and therefore it is important that if you are unsure of the meaning of any clause you consult a solicitor or visit your local citizen’s advice bureau.

Can you explain about the deposit?

You will be required to pay a deposit of up to 5 week’s rent for either an unfurnished property or furnished property. If the landlord allows pets, we will need to discuss an enhanced monthly rental payment. You will also be required to pay one months rent at this time. If you wish to pay by cheque this must be received, and cleared though our bank account, prior to the commencement of the Tenancy. Alternatively you may wish to pay by Bankers draft on the day of your Tenancy commencing. Your deposit is held in an approved government scheme. The deposit will be refunded at the end of the tenancy, subject to any reasonable deductions as required by the Tenancy Agreement.

We now have the facility to pay both your initial rent and the deposit by credit / debit card.

Many tenants in the private sector give their landlords a deposit against possible non-payment of rent or damage to property. When a tenancy comes to an end, there is usually no disagreement about the return of the deposit. But sometimes there is, and this can cause much hardship and inconvenience to both landlord and tenant.

The Housing Act 2004 (Chapter 4, sections 212-5;& Schedule 10) made provision for both the protection of tenancy deposits and the resolution of disputes over their return. As an agent, we are members of Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd and register your deposit with them if we manage the property you live in.

What's the law on deposits?

• Any landlord or agent who takes a deposit from a tenant for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy must safeguard it in an approved tenancy deposit scheme and the tenant must be told which one.

• The deposit must be in money.

• Landlords in breach of these provisions will not be able to issue Section 21 notices, and may have to pay the tenant compensation of three times the deposit.

• The landlord/agent must submit the deposit to the operators of their scheme when requested to do so.

• There are strict time limits for the return of the deposit if there is no dispute.

• The Act allows for both custodial and insured schemes. Custodial schemes are where the deposit is lodged with an independent third party i.e. outside the control of the landlord. Insured schemes allow the landlord/agent to retain control of the deposit as long as they are subject to suitable insurance arrangements.

• Secondary legislation will fill out the detail, including time limits for dealing with disputes.

What is a Tenancy Deposit Scheme?

The tenancy Deposit Scheme has been developed to ensure that the deposits are protected and that disputes about their return are resolved swiftly, inexpensively and impartially. Under TDS:

• Deposits will be protected during the tenancy

• Where there is no dispute at the end of the tenancy, deposits will be returned promptly

• Where there is a dispute about the return of the deposit it will be dealt with fairly by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

• This is an impartial and evidence based service provided, in the main, by an independent resolution company. ADR will make a decision quickly, and the deposit will be paid out without unnecessary delay.

How are the deposits held and protected?

We hold the deposit, in a special segregated client bank account. If there is a dispute, the landlord or agent has 10 calendar days to resolve it. After that, any of the parties – landlord, agent or tenant – can approach the Scheme to advise them of the dispute. You will be required to complete and send to them a Deposit Dispute Claim Form, which can be downloaded from their website, or which is sent to you by the Scheme when you contact us. The Scheme will not recognise a dispute, and contact the landlord, until it is in possession of the Claim Form. This is to ensure fairness to both parties and to ensure that we fully understand the nature of the dispute.

If there is a dispute, what happens to the deposit?

The member will transfer the disputed amount to Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd. If the monies are not transferred Tenancy Deposit Solutions has a special fund which enables the ADR to carry on with an adjudication and to pay out the deposit even if the member has not sent in the deposit. If the member has not sent the deposit, they will have their membership cancelled and legal action will be taken to recover the disputed amount.

How are disputes resolved?

• Once you have exhausted your dealings with the landlord (and after the 10-day grace period has expired), the tenant may complain to the Scheme.

• The Scheme will only request that the disputed amount be transferred to the Scheme once the Scheme is satisfied that a genuine dispute exists. However, once a genuine dispute is identified the landlord/agent will be given 10 calendar days to lodge the disputed amount with the Scheme or face expulsion of the scheme. If both parties agree to ADR then it is envisaged that a decision will be reached and communicated to all parties within 28 days.

Why is using Tenancy Deposit scheme better than taking disputes to court?

Deposit disputes need to be resolved quickly and cheaply. Tenants usually need the money as a deposit on their next property, and landlords need to know how much will be available to spend on redecoration and repair. Going to court takes time and can be expensive and stressful. Their successful adjudication process is based on an expert assessment of documentary evidence (which can also include photographs and video). TDSRA demonstrated that they could complete nearly all adjudications well within the time specified in our contract with the Government.

How long does it usually take to return my deposit?

Once check out procedure has been carried out we advise your Landlord and await their agreement of our recommendations. In general cases this will usually take 10 days.

What other costs will I be responsible for?

Council Tax – we will advise you of the band during viewing. On new properties this sometimes can take longer.

Gas, Electricity, Telephone and Water Rates including sewerage and environmental charges

TV Licence

Any damage to fixtures and fittings or appliances caused by misuse or negligence.

Any outstanding rent or other charges due.

You will also be liable to pay interest on late payment of rent. Details of which are in your Tenancy Agreement.

What happens once my references have been accepted?

Firstly make sure that you have read the Tenancy Agreement and have sought legal advice from either a solicitor or the citizen’s advice bureau prior to our meeting to commence your tenancy if you are unsure about anything that the Tenancy Agreement contains. The Tenancy Agreement is a legal document as lays out the terms on which you will hold the tenancy and the obligations of the Landlord.

Rent is payable in advance at monthly intervals from the tenancy commencement date and will be taken from your bank account by Direct Debit. Due to the UK banking system it can take between 3 – 4 days for monies to clear. Therefore you need to make sure that your DD is set for your rent to leave your bank 3- 4 days before your rent is due.

Will I get a copy of the inventory?

Next to the Tenancy Agreement the Inventory and Condition Report is the most important document you will have at the commencement of the tenancy. It protects your deposit as it is an accurate record of the condition of fixtures, fittings and decoration in the property at the start of the Tenancy.

Subject to the landlords instruction we prepare a very detailed Inventory and Condition Report for you to sign at the start of your tenancy. You will have 5 days to review the report and return to us with any reasonable updates you may have. On the last day of your tenancy we will use this report a as guide to ascertain if there are any deductions to be made out of the deposit. Any repairs or replacements required must be carried out before the end of the Tenancy.

When do I become responsible for the utility costs?

As soon as your tenancy starts you become responsible for the payment of gas, electricity, council tax, and telephone and water charges. It is therefore important that you register these in your name with the appropriate authority. If we are managing the property we will do this for you excluding the telephone companies.

Do I need to insure the contents?

It is a requirement of the Tenancy Agreement that you obtain insurance with accidental damage coverage for your own contents and valuables, as these are your responsibility. The landlord is solely responsible for providing buildings and contents insurance for his own possessions.

We have the facility for you to take out the appropriate insurance cover. Just ask for one of our Home Contents Insurance application leaflets.

How often is the property checked?

As part of our contract with the landlord we must make periodic inspections of the property. These will be arranged in advance to ensure minimum inconvenience to you. During the visit we will walk around the property to assess if any works need carrying out and to check on work that has been carried out on behalf of the Landlord.

If I like it, can I extend my stay?

If you wish to extend your tenancy and your landlord agrees, we will draw up the appropriate Renewal Tenancy. It’s very easy.

What happens if I want to leave the property before the tenancy expires?

If you vacate the property before the end of the Tenancy Agreement you will still be responsible under the terms of the Agreement until the property is re-let or the Agreement ends. Once we receive your written instruction then we will commence re-marketing the property in order to find a new tenant.

However, if the landlord agrees and we can find a new tenant quickly, we MAY be able to release you from the contract early. Please note however, you will still be responsible for the rental cost of any time that the property is vacant before a new tenant moves in.

What are my responsibilities with regard to the final check-out?

We will provide you with comprehensive guidance notes and we would advise that you follow these.

What will happen at the check-out?

We will arrange a convenient time to carry out this procedure, which normally takes about an hour. As per check in we will go around the property together noting any works that may need to be carried out. Please note that once the tenancy has come to an end and you have signed out you will not be able to re-enter the property so any cleaning or remedial works must take place before.

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