The Letting Process

Renting a property in the UK

When searching for a property to rent it is beneficial to use reputable letting agents, who pay close attention to abiding by rules governing the industry. Many of the reputable agents are members of professional bodies such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents, who follow a Code of Practice set out to promote standards in the industry.

Agent working in the UK property market are also covered by several important pieces of government legislation, including:

The Property Misdescriptions Act (1991)

Under this Act it is an offence to make false or misleading statements in the course of estate agent or property development business.

Property Misdescriptions Act (1991)

 

Tenancy Deposit Protection

In England and Wales, if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007, your landlord must place your deposit in one of the following tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes:

  • Deposit Protection Service (Custodial and Insured)
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

These government-backed schemes ensure you’ll get your deposit back if you:

  • Meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • Don’t damage the property
  • Pay your rent and bills

Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in the scheme within 30 days of getting it.

Tenancy Deposit Protection overview

Disclosure of Non-Optional Fees

Since 1 November 2013 letting agents have been required by the Advertising Standards Agency to ensure they prominently include information about non-optional fees in their advertisments for rental properties. The goal of this legislation is to help prospective tenants make more informed choices and avoid being misled.

ASA non-optional fees ruling

Securing your own property to rent

Once you have chosen a property you wish to rent, the first step is to make an offer on the property.  This should include:

  • The price you are offering
  • The date you wish to commence the tenancy
  • Any requests relating to the property, such as a professional clean to include shampooing the carpets, any fixtures or fittings that need to be repaired, if you wish them to remove any furniture, refreshing the paintwork if necessary.

If the offer is not initially accepted you may receive a counter-offer from the landlord (via the agent), or you can request feedback from the agent on the offer, and make a revised offer accordingly.

If the offer is accepted you will be required to pay a holding deposit to the letting agent to secure the property. This is typically 1 week’s rent, possibly also including the agent’s fees, which must by law be provided with the property details.

Once this has been paid, the agent will commence the referencing process.  Their administration and referencing fees will be payable upfront, and vary depending on the company’s policies.  References will typically require you to provide details of previous landlords (if applicable), previous addresses, and most importantly, proof of employment, including salary and length of contract. Typically the agents will require that your income is at least 2.5 times larger than the rent on the property. Some referencing agents may require it to be as much as 3 times larger.

Important note: You will not be able to secure a property unless you have a valid VISA for living and working in the UK, so you must

Assuming references meet the agent’s criteria, the process will continue towards the move-in date, requiring you to sign the AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) Agreement and provide the remainder of funds before the move-in date.  Fund required can vary depending on the agent, but usually take the form of:

6 weeks security deposit (minus the holding deposit if applicable) – this may be higher for tenancies including animals

1 month’s rent in advance

Any additional fees detailed by the agent