Tenants FAQs

Am I responsible for the garden if my property has one?

It’s always an added bonus to have a property with a private garden to relax in on hot summer days, but you must think about whether you will be able to maintain it and keep it in good order all year round. At the end of tenancy the garden or patio should be given back to the landlord in a similar condition as the start of tenancy, otherwise the landlord may make a claim against your deposit for a gardener to sort it out. (communal gardens will usually be maintained by the sites managing agents)

As a tenant do I need my own contents insurance?

The landlord may choose to insure the rented property to cover the building and any furniture and fittings that it comes with. As a tenant, we'd strongly recommend that you take out insurance for your own possessions, as these won't be covered by the landlord's policy should you suffer a break in or other loss or damage. There are tenant policies available on the market which cover you if you damage the property or any of the landlord’s fixtures and fittings.

Do I have to rent a property for a certain amount of time?

Yes, as a tenant, you are legally required to pay rent until the end of the tenancy agreement or any release clause agreed. A tenancy agreement is signed by both tenant and landlord and it is legally binding. As the tenant you need to read it carefully as the duration of the tenancy is stated (the minimum length of time you agree to rent for), how much rent to pay, tenant responsibilities, tenant rights and landlord responsibilities. In other circumstances, your landlord may agree to end the tenancy earlier, but will expect you cover the costs and financial losses incurred.

Do I need to pay extra if I choose to rent a managed property?

No. The management of a property is instructed by the landlord.

Do landlords allow renting with pets or children?

It’s a big decision to become a landlord. For many landlords, their investment property is the most valuable thing they own. Landlords do allow renting with pets or children. However, despite how careful a tenant is, a rented property with pets or children living in it is more vulnerable to damage. Many landlords try to avoid this risk. Check the tenancy agreement or check with your letting agent.

Does a tenant or landlord pay for utility bills and council tax?

The tenant is usually responsible for bills such as gas, electricity and water, as well as council tax and the TV licence. Details of bills to be paid for by the tenant will be listed in the tenancy agreement.

It is important to note that many tenants are not aware that their TV licence doesn't automatically move with them when they move from property to property - you can do this via www.tvlicensing.co.uk

If a tenant doesn't notify TV Licensing of the new address, the tenant could end up being unlicensed in the new property. Anyone who watches TV or streams live broadcasts on a PC , laptop, tablet or phone, without a licence risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. It's worthwhile checking the tenancy agreement details.

For what purposes can a tenant use a residential rented property?

The main reason for renting a property must be mainly for residential use. A tenant must not register or conduct a business from the property, or breach local bye laws. This does not prevent a tenant ‘working from home’ under certain circumstances, so long as this does not involve clients visiting the property, special equipment being installed, delivery and collection of goods, causing nuisance to neighbours or the property, registered child minding. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and, if agreed by the landlord, will require a clause in the tenancy agreement to set out the conditions.

Found in a tenancy agreement, what does the term ‘jointly and severally’ mean?

Where there is more than one tenant renting a property, this phrase will appear in the tenancy agreement. It means that all tenants take responsibility for their obligations, both individually and together. All tenants are, as a group, responsible for making sure the rules of the tenancy agreement are adhered to. For example, if one tenant fails to pay the rent, the other tenants are legally responsible for the shortfall in rent.

How do I pay rent?

This will be as agreed in your tenancy contract. At Addison Townsend, we usually collect the rent on behalf of the landlord via direct debit. This needs to be from one bank account only, so if you are sharing a property with more than one person, you may wish to set up a household account in all your names.

How do I renew my contract after the first year?

At Addison Townsend, we have a dedicated tenancy renewals team who will contact both you and your landlord, usually two months before the end of the tenancy, to find out your next steps. Any new tenancy contract will be subject to you agreeing new terms with your landlord.

How do I serve notice to vacate my property?

You need to do this in line with your tenancy agreement. You will have signed an agreement for a fixed term and you can leave at the end of that term, as long as you let your landlord know in writing beforehand. If you have agreed a break clause in the fixed term agreement and want to use this, then you need to comply with those terms. We advise, referring to your tenancy contract.

If you go over the fixed term, you will need to give your landlord at least one calendar months written notice, but this could be longer, depending on the terms of your tenancy agreement or the frequency the rent is paid.

How much is my deposit and what happens to it?

A tenancy deposit offers the landlord peace of mind, that when the tenancy ends you will leave the property in good condition and you will have acted in line with the tenancy conditions

Under the Tenant Fee Act 2019 if your tenancy is an Assured Shorthold (AST) then there is a limit to the amount of deposit a tenant can be required to pay. For tenancies with a rent up to £50,000 per annum this is no more than the equivalent of five weeks’ rent. For tenancies over £50,000 per annum this will be no more than the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. There is no restriction for tenancies which are not ASTs

At Addison Townsend we protect tenant deposits for ASTs with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS). This is one of the Government approved schemes and you can find more details on https://www.depositprotection.com/. However, sometimes a landlord will wish to take responsibility for protecting your deposit with this scheme, or with one of the other

As well as requesting cash deposits, some landlords will agree to accept a deposit guarantee product instead. It is then up to the tenant to decide which method they wish to use; a landlord cannot insist on the tenant using a guarantee product.

Many Addison Townsend landlords will accept a Zero Deposit Guarantee (ZDG) instead of a cash deposit, whereby the tenant enters into an arrangement directly with the guarantee provider. A typical cost to the tenant is the equivalent of one weeks’ rent and the cover is up to the value of six weeks’ rent.

I am sharing a property and want to leave during the tenancy. Can I just get someone to take my place?

No. As tenants you should act together, so the tenancy does not end until you all give the landlord back vacant possession of the property, under terms set out in the tenancy agreement – your landlord does not have to agree to alter these terms. Even if your landlord does agree that you can leave and find someone to take your place, it is not as easy as just changing a name on the existing tenancy agreement. The new tenant will need to be referenced, have new tenancy contracts signed by everyone staying on, the deposit paid and re-protected, and a new inventory will have to carried out. Your landlord will probably expect you to cover these costs, at least.

Landlords often ask for non smokers. As I never smoke indoors should I classify myself as a smoker or non smoker?

Some landlords will accept smoking outside the rented property but not inside. Other landlords insist that their rented property is only let to non-smokers. The tenant obligations are detailed in the tenancy agreement which is the legal document that sets out everything about the tenancy, the terms and landlord and tenant obligations. If in doubt, just ask your letting agent to clarify the landlord’s no smoking policy.

What are the obligations of a tenant?

Tenants and landlords both have rights and obligations. Some are set out explicitly in the tenancy agreement, others are legal obligations. Some of the main things to be aware of are reporting repairing or maintenance issues, use of the property and giving access to the landlord.

  • Property repairs
    A tenant must use the property in what’s called “a tenant like manner” meaning that the tenant will be responsible for any property repairs that are the fault of the tenant. The tenant is responsible for keeping the landlord's fixtures and fittings in good condition and must not make alterations to the property without the landlord's express consent. Tenants must pay for anything they break or damage in the property during the tenancy and isn't due to fair wear and tear. If the tenant does not pay for this at the time the landlord can deduct the cost from the tenancy deposit.
  • Use of the property
    A tenant must use the property solely for residential purposes, not to run a business of any kind, as this may put the landlord in breach of local bye laws as well as mortgage and insurance terms.
  • Property access for the landlord
    The landlord will need to visit from time to time to carry out repairs and safety checks, and to check that the building is in good condition. A tenant should allow the landlord property access but the landlord must always let the tenants know first. The landlord will have a set of keys to the property but they should never use these without the tenant’s consent, except in an emergency.

What fees do I have to pay?

Once you have found the right property and before you can move in, there are a few costs to take into account to secure a rental property. Visit our Tenants Fees section for full details.

What other documents will I need to provide?

You will need to provide proof of your right to rent a property in England (usually by means of a passport) and your current address.

Proof of address will include utility bills or bank statements dated within the last three months but we can supply you with a list of other suitable documents.

All documents must be originals.

What penalties will incur if I break my lease agreement early?

You should not enter into a legally binding contract unless you can fulfil its terms including the length of the tenancy. In general, you can only end the tenancy early if your landlord agrees. Your landlord does not necessarily have to do so.

You will remain responsible for paying the rent until the end of the tenancy contract or the next break clause point. However, if your landlord agree to re-market the property before this, then once a new tenant is found your liability to the rental payment will be reduced pro rata. You will be asked to cover any of the landlord's financial loss as a result ending the tenancy early. This may include the landlord letting fees (which he cannot recover) and any other landlord expenses associated with the re-letting. If you are unsure, talk to an Addison Townsend letting agent or your landlord before making any plans.

What property access is available to a landlord when the property is rented?

The landlord or his contractor will need to visit the rented property from time to time to complete repairs and safety checks, and to check that the rented property is in good condition. A tenant should allow a landlord reasonable property access. A landlord is required to let a tenant know in advance of a proposed visit to the property in line with the terms of the tenancy agreement. The landlord or contractor may have a set of keys to the property, but they should never use these without the tenant’s express consent, except in an emergency

What references will I require?

At Addison Townsend, we instruct a professional independent referencing agency on behalf of our landlords to carry out reference checks on all potential tenants and guarantors. The referencing agency will require you (and your guarantor if applicable) to complete an online application form. The agency, will check your credit history, employer and previous landlord references. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide audited accounts covering a period of 12 months. The referencing agency will then use this information to establish if you qualify for the tenancy.

What should I do with the keys at the end of the tenancy?

Usually the inventory clerk will take these from you at the time of the inventory check-out which generally takes place on the last day of the tenancy. If there is no inventory check, unless specific instructions are given by your landlord, keys should be taken to your local Addison Townsend branch on the last day of the tenancy. Please ensure all sets are returned, a receipt is obtained.

What will happen if I don’t pay my rent?

You could lose the property you are renting. When you sign your tenancy agreement, you are entering into a legally bidding contract with your landlord, agreeing to pay the agreed amount of rent and on specific days. If you fail to make payments, you will be in breach of these terms. Your landlord may be able to serve notice asking you to move out on or after a particular date, or if you are more than two months’ in arrears the landlord may apply straight to the county court and request an order of possession of their property.

When is my deposit returned to me?

Once the inventory checkout has been completed you will need to agree with your landlord whether any deductions should be made from your deposit. Once we have written confirmation from you and the landlord agreeing the amount (if any), we will advise the DPS to make the appropriate payments. This should be sent to you within 10 days of us receiving the final confirmation.

When renting why do I have to pay a tenant deposit?

A tenancy deposit offers the landlord peace of mind that when the tenancy ends, if you do not leave the property in good condition, you have breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, or you have rent arrears, then the landlord may make a claim against your deposit to offset his loss.

When will the rent leave my account?

If you are paying by direct debit, the rent will be deducted on the day you have agreed with your landlord as a term of the tenancy contract. If this day falls on a weekend or on a bank holiday, then it will be the next working day.