Trouble Free Letting
Questions Every Tenant Should Ask
This page has been designed to aid tenants who are looking to rent
property through a residential letting agency and consists of questions that every tenant
should ask and the answers they should receive.
As a tenant, I want to rent. What should I ask?
First: Is the agent a member of ARLA? You will benefit from their
experience, professionalism and compliance with ARLAs bye laws, regulations and
accounting procedures. Their professional indemnity insurance which complies with the
requirements of the Associations Fidelity Bond will protect your deposit.
What is ARLAs Fidelity Bond?
The ARLA Fidelity Bond is designed as a protection of last resort
for monies entrusted to ARLA members by landlords and tenants during the ordinary course
of their business as letting agents.
In the event of proven theft or fraud if a member agent or its
staff, if you cannot recover monies deposited with the agent during its period of
membership of ARLA from the agent and the agents own insurance does nor cover the
loss, you may make a claim to ARLA for reimbursement of the money you have lost.
Full details of the scope of this protection and how to make a
claim under it are available on written request to ARLA at the address on the bottom of
Do I pay any fees to the Agent?
You should not pay introductory fees but there will be certain
costs for you to cover, for inventories and for administration including the preparation
of the tenancy agreement and taking up references.
What money do I need to find at the beginning?
Normally at least a months rent in advance and the equivalent
of a month to six weeks rent to be held as a deposit against damage and
dilapidations (and the administrative charges noted above).
What information will I need to supply?
The addresses of referees for the agent to write and confirm your
ability to meet the rental commitment. These will normally include your bank or building
society, employer, previous landlords, or for some, your solicitor and/or accountant.
What are my responsibilities?
These should be clearly set out in your tenancy agreement, which
you should read carefully before you sign. If in doubt, ask the agent. There is a duty for
professional agents to ensure that anyone relying on them is offered correct advice.
What is a tenancy agreement?
It is a legally binding document between you and the landlord,
applicable only to you and the property you are renting, that states the amount of rent,
the length of the tenancy, your rights and responsibilities. Your agreement will most
probably be an Assured or an Assured Shorthold tenancy under the Housing Act 1988. For
bona fide companies and/or rental values over £25000 a year, the agreement will be drawn
up under contract law.
How long does it all take?
Normally, about ten working days to take up and confirm references,
clear your cheque covering the first rent period and the deposit arrange for inventories
and the transfer of utility accounts into your name. No professional agent should allow
you possession before all this has been done.
How long is a typical let?
Most agents require it to be a minimum if six months and rarely
write a tenancy agreement for longer than a year. But...
What happens if I want to stay on or leave early?
Tenancies are frequently renewed and agents often agree the terms
for renewal at the beginning and include them in the tenancy agreement. If youre
likely to leave before the end of the original term agreed, you must negotiate break
clauses to be written into the agreement. If not, you will remain responsible for the rent
until the end of the term agreed, unless a new and satisfactory tenant can be found.
What else do I have to pay for?
The tenant usually pays the utility bills such as gas, electricity,
water and telephone during the course of the tenancy, TV. license, etc; and the Council
Tax applicable to the property.
What must I do at the end of a tenancy?
Ensure you fulfil your obligations stated in the tenancy agreement
to leave the property in the condition it was in at the start, or deductions will be made
from your deposit. These will include thorough cleaning and all linen, used or not,
freshly laundered. If you have moved furniture, return it to where you found it at the
time of the inventory.
How do I get my deposit back?
After an inventory check and condition inspection, provided there
are no missing items or damage, your deposit should he returned shortly after you leave
the property. You cannot set your deposit against the last tent payment due.
Who has been holding my deposit?
Normally, the agent in a designated clients deposit account.
"Thats" why it is important to use an ARLA agent.
What is a holding deposit? Do I get it back?
Holding Deposits - usually a nominal amount can if required
when you make an offer on a property. If, for any reason, you decide not to go ahead by an
agreed date, the holding deposit will he retained against administrative costs already
Otherwise it will be off-set against the first rent and full
deposit payments. If the landlord decides not to proceed then the holding deposit will he
returned. Paying a holding deposit in no way obliges either party to enter into the
What are the ARLA Membership Requirements
There are stringent requirements for membership of the Association
of Residential Letting Agents.
A firm must have been in the letting and management business for
at least two years before it can be invited to join the Association
All member firms must carry Professional Indemnity Insurance to a
Separate client accounts must be held.
Commissions for letting property may only be obtained from
Business must be carried out from a properly designated business
All ARLA members most lodge a copy of their professional Indemnity
Insurance policy with the Association to comply with the requirements of the Associations
This ARLA page is intended as a guide only to illustrate the
questions that should be asked by the landlords and tenants when first approaching a
letting agents. It is a guide to good practice but practices may vary from agent to agent.
ARLA does not occur any liability from this web site.