Renting a property can be a formidable task regardless of whether this is your first time to rent or if you have rented properties in the past.
Our Frequently Asked Questions has answers you are looking for. If you have a more specific enquiry, contact your local Whitegates office who will be able to help you.
Why are references required?
Whitegates use references to check all applicant's credit history and also a reference from a former landlord, current employer and previous employer. These references are necessary for us to ensure that you have the means to pay the rent. We check your credit history to check whether you have had any court orders or CCJs against you in the past. The landlord reference is to help us ensure that you are a reliable tenant who pays on time and doesn't damage the property. You employer reference is to ensure that you are in the employment that you have stated on your application form. However if you have a bad credit history you may still be able to apply for the property, as long as you tell us beforehand. If you mislead us about your credit history then your application will automatically be rejected.
I have been told that I need to pay an application fee when applying to take a property. What is this?
It is a fee taken from the applicant to ensure the property is reserved for them subject to contracts being accepted. This fee usually includes the cost(s) of referencing each adult who will be moving into the property, together with the administration cost(s) involved in preparing for the tenancy commencement.
What ID do I need to show, before I can move in?
We require proof of residency and proof of identity:
- For residency we accept a recent (within the last 3 months) utility/ council tax/ mobile phone bill or a current tenancy agreement.
- For identity we require a photo style driving licence or passport. If you are not a UK citizen of the European Economic Union then you will need to provide evidence of official permission to live in the UK for the term of the proposed tenancy.
In some circumstances additional ID will be requested by the credit referencing agency.
Do I have to sign a lease with my landlord?
Yes, until the tenancy agreement is signed there is no contract between you and the landlord. If the tenancy does not go ahead as planned you cannot claim against the landlord or the Whitegates local office for your costs or out of pocket expenses.
Do I have to pay a deposit?
Yes, a security deposit is required in case of any of damage or dilapidation of the property during your tenancy. All Whitegates local offices hold deposits under one of the three Tenancy Deposit Schemes in England and Wales.
Is my deposit refundable?
Your deposit will be held for the duration of the tenancy. At the end of the tenancy you will be checked out of your property and an assessment of damage / dilapidations will be made. Your tenancy agreement will state what can be claimed from the deposit. If any of these items are identified, then your Whitegates local office will contact you to discuss the proposed deductions. All Whitegates local offices would prefer to be able to agree to refund the full deposit to you on your vacation, but it will be your responsibility to ensure that you have fulfilled the terms of the tenancy, left the property in accordance with the inventory and schedule of condition, followed the check out notes and ensured that you rent is paid up to date.
As a full-time student do I have to pay council tax?
A student does not have to pay council tax if they live in halls of residence or a house where all of the residents are students in full-time education. This is provided that all of the students in the house have supplied the council office with a copy of their tenancy agreement and student certificate.
When can I pick up the keys to my new home?
The Whitegates local office will not release any keys to you until the commencement date of the tenancy agreement. You will be required to visit the Whitegates local office on this day in order to finalise any paperwork, such as signing the tenancy agreement, collecting a copy of the gas safety certificate and completing a standing order or direct debit form. Once all of these have been completed and the Whitegates local office have completed their procedures, you will be given the keys to your rental property.
As a tenant, what am I responsible for?
As a tenant you are responsible for:
- Prompt payment of rent
- Prompt payment of gas, electricity, telephone and internet bills.
- Reporting any damages and repairs to the property as early as possible.
- Carrying out odd jobs in the property in a tenant-like manner such as changing light bulbs etc.
- Repairing any damage caused by you at the property which includes unblocking a sink or toilet which has been blocked due to your misuse.
What is my landlord responsible for?
This largely depends on the level of service Whitegates has been instructed for the property although your tenancy agreement is between you and your Landlord and therefore the Landlord must ensure that any promises made within this contract are fulfilled.
Your Landlord will have appointed your Whitegates local office to act for him regarding day to day matters. Therefore, you should contact your Whitegates local office on all occasions. They may need to get authorisation from your Landlord for certain requests, but they will then act promptly in accordance with your Landlord's instructions.
Your Landlord will have appointed your Whitegates local office to set up the tenancy and then to receive your rent on a regular basis. You should only contact your Whitegates local office if you have queries regarding your rent. If you have any queries regarding day-to-day matters you should contact your Landlord.
Your Landlord will have appointed your Whitegates local office only to find him a tenant for his property and sometimes to set up the tenancy agreement. Any queries or matters regarding the tenancy once you have moved into the property should be directed to your Landlord. Your Whitegates local office will not be able to assist you. In all instances your tenancy agreement and your welcome letter will explain to you who you need to contact during the tenancy.
What other costs will I have besides the rent?
These will vary but are most likely to include gas, electricity, telephone, water rates, council tax and contents insurance to cover your own possessions.
Who is responsible for the TV licence?
Both the landlord and tenant are liable and must ensure that the address has a valid TV licence. The responsibility on who has to pay for the licence is usually stated in the Tenancy Agreement. However if the landlord provides a television with the property then they would be expected to pay for the TV licence, particularly in any communal areas. However, if a tenant wishes to watch TV in their own room or bring their own television into the property they are likely to be expected to pay the licence fee, each property is different and the tenancy agreement must be consulted for clarification.
What maintenance is the landlord required to complete?
Your Landlord has statutory obligations to maintain and repair certain areas and items in your property. Your Landlord must ensure that:
- The gas appliances and pipework at the property are safe and is obliged to have a qualified engineer to test these on an annual basis. You will be provided with a copy of this certificate which should indicate that all of the appliances and pipework are safe.
- The electrical appliances that they have supplied to you at the property are safe. They will require access to your property in order for a qualified engineer to conduct this check on an annual basis.
- The structure of the building is maintained to include walls, drainpipes, guttering, roof and windows.
- The hot water and heating are operational. If they should malfunction, then your Landlord is responsible for ensuring that it is fixed, once you have altered them, in the shortest time possible.
Your landlord is not responsible for repairing any damage that you have caused at the property - this is your responsibility.
What is classed as reasonable wear and tear?
Fair wear and tear is the normal deterioration of an item in normal use, however it is a landlord's decision on what is reasonable wear and tear and what is excessive dilapidation. Fair wear and tear is based on the length of the tenancy, the number and ages of the Tenants, the condition and ages of the items and the expected lifespan of these items. Whitegates ensure that the condition of the property is noted down in the inventory prior to the tenancy beginning for reference of the original condition of items in question.
Can the landlord enter the property without my permission?
The answer to this is usually stated in the tenancy agreement. In most cases a landlord cannot enter the property without giving the tenant reasonable notice beforehand, usually no less than 24 hours. Please see your tenancy agreement for more details. However, in the event of an emergency which may affect the safety of the occupants or the property, it may be necessary to gain access without this notice.
Can my landlord increase my rent at anytime?
No, the tenancy agreement determines when and by how much your rent can be increased. If the agreement does not specify an amount or time, then the landlord must negotiate this with you. Neither the landlord nor the tenant can alter the original tenancy agreement without the other party's consent.
Can my landlord take my possessions if I fall behind on rent?
No. The Landlord can take certain action via the courts in order to take action against you for non payment of rent, but if you are occupying the property under an assured shorthold tenancy or a fixed term contract, your Landlord cannot enter and take your possessions from the property. If you fall behind with your rent it is always best that you contact your Landlord or your Landlord's Agent to discuss how you will ensure that any money due can be paid. Your Landlord is entitled to take action to regain possession of the property via the courts if you continue to not pay your rent.
How do I end my lease early?
When you enter into a tenancy agreement with your Landlord it will state how long this period is for. During this time neither you nor the Landlord can end the tenancy unless there have been breaches of the terms. If there is a break clause in place you may be able to end your tenancy early according to the terms of the break clause. You should refer to your tenancy agreement and discuss this with your Landlord or your Whitegates local office. A fixed term lease give you security to occupy a property for a set period of time and you will be responsible for paying the rent for this sent period of time which was agreed at the commencement of the tenancy.
Can I stay longer than the agreed term of my tenancy?
Once the initial fixed term is coming to an end, it may be possible to continue the agreement for a further period of time by mutual agreement with the landlord concerned.
Can my landlord refuse to give me back my deposit?
If you have entered into a assured shorthold tenancy in England and Wales, then the return of the deposit is subject to tenancy deposit protection. The scheme which your Landlord or the Whitegates local office have chosen will be able to provide you with information on the process for returning your deposit. These schemes provide an alternative dispute resolution process whereby an independent adjudicator will make a final decision on the disbursement of the deposit money. If you have a non-housing act contract or company tenancy in England, your Landlord will probably be holding the deposit himself or the Whitegates local office will be holding the deposit as agent for landlord. This means that the Landlord can withhold reasonable amounts of the deposit for items which are stipulated in the tenancy agreement without your consent.
Who can help me if I have problems with my landlord?
If your property is fully managed with a Whitegates agent then please contact your local Whitegates office directly. However if your property is not fully managed then in all instances you must first discuss your complaint with your landlord and if necessary address this complaint in writing. If you are unhappy with the response you receive from your landlord then contact the Property Ombudsman on the address below:The Property Ombudsman Milford House 43-55 Milford Street Salisbury Wiltshire SP1 2BP Who can help me if I have problems with my local Whitegates office? If you have a complaint about the service that you have received from a Whitegates local office you should put your concerns in writing to the Whitegates office concerned. The correspondence will be acknowledged within 3 working days. The matter will then be investigated and a full response sent to you within 15 working days. If you feel the matter remains unresolved you need to address your complaint to the proprietor at the relevant Whitegates office, marked for the attention of the proprietor, who will conduct an investigation and will give a final viewpoint. In the unlikely event that you remain dissatisfied then you may refer the matter to the Property Ombudsman at the following address: The Property Ombudsman Milford House 43-55 Milford Street Salisbury Wiltshire SP1 2BP