Renting/letting jargon – A-Z

The property world is full of words and expressions that may be unfamiliar to anyone who is not regularly letting or renting a home.

This guide will help to shed light on what they all mean.

Absent Landlord
A landlord described as absent is one who cannot be contacted. If the lessees wish to create a Right To Manage Company but are unable to contact the landlord, they are free to make a legal application to acquire the right to manage.

Administration Fee
A payment which is charged to cover the costs of processing a property rental application. This is paid by the tenant and will be taken from the initial monies once the tenancy starts.

Agreement Fee
A payment which is charged to cover the costs of drawing up a tenancy agreement. This is usually shared between the landlord and tenant.

ARLA Propertymark
The Association of Residential Letting Agents, the UK’s foremost professional body for letting agents.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
A widely used rental agreement where the tenant is an individual and net rent does not exceed £25,000 a year. It covers a fixed period, so both parties know the date the property will be vacated.

Break Clause
A clause sometimes agreed between the landlord and tenant to be inserted in a fixed term agreement, typically if the initial fixed term is for a year or more. A break clause will usually allow either landlord or tenant to give written notice after a particular date or period of the tenancy in order to end the tenancy earlier than the original fixed term.

Credit Search References
References requested for a tenant applying to take up rented accommodation. Many agents and individual landlords use external companies who will contact the applicant’s employer, landlord and check the tenant’s credit history, providing a report on their financial suitability to rent.

Deposit
A monetary sum held by the landlord or agent for security against damage to a property or a breach of the tenancy terms. This is usually the equivalent to six weeks’ rent but may vary. If the deposit is for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), then it must be protected by one of the approved tenancy deposit protection schemes.

Dilapidations
Items that have been damaged during a tenancy. The tenant is usually responsible for the cost of repair or replacement.

EPC
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) shows the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of a property and gives an indication of the fuel bills. It is displayed as two graphs, the energy efficiency and environmental impact of the property. Each is graded from A (the best) to G (the worst).

sale is binding and no terms may be altered.

Fixtures and Fittings
Items usually provided in a letting that may include curtains, carpets, blinds, light fittings, kitchen units and appliances. In some cases it may also include furniture. It is advisable to check what is provided and not to assume that items will be provided.

Gas Safety Record
A certificate that states all gas appliances, pipework and flues are safe. It is a legal requirement for all landlords and must be provided every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer after a safety check.

Inventory
A list of the contents of a rental property. The inventory will note the condition of items and will form the basis of a dilapidation report at the end of the tenancy. It often includes photographs of specific items and existing damage/defects.

Lease
The legal document governing the occupation by the tenant of a premises for a specific length of time. At the end of the period the property reverts to the owner.

Listed Building
Buildings of special architectural or historic interest. A listed building may carry certain obligations and restrictions governing its use, repair, and maintenance.

Maintenance Charge or Service Charge
Many leasehold properties (especially flats) are subject to such a charge which pays for items such as the insurance and maintenance of the building.

Maisonette
A flat with its own private entrance.

Multiple Agent Instructions
Where more than one letting agency firm is instructed by a landlord to offer a property to rent.

The Property Ombudsman
The Property Ombudsman offers a free and independent service for resolving disputes between sales and letting agents, which are members of The Property Ombudsman, and buyers/sellers of residential property in the UK.

Sole Agent
Where only one letting agency firm is instructed by a landlord to offer a property to rent.

Tenancy
Possession of a property by a tenant under the terms of a lease.

Tenancy Agreement
The legal agreement governing the occupation of a property by a tenant.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
An insurance-based scheme run by The Dispute Service Ltd. for the protection of tenancy deposits and the resolution of disputes between landlords, agents and tenants concerning the return of deposits at the end of a tenancy. It is one of three schemes approved for tenancy deposit protection.

Tenant
The person who has temporary possession of a property under a lease or tenancy agreement.

Tenants not taking out contents insurance?

Shocking figures are released in a recent survey about tenants and their lack of contents insurance.

Recent research has shown that 61% of tenants currently have no contents insurance, with 48% admitting that they have never taken out contents insurance at a property they have lived in during their lives.

The survey further revealed that 19% of tenants questioned said they had no idea what contents insurance was, whilst amongst those who actually did have  a policy, 42% of them did not know what it actually covered or what to do in the event of needing to make a claim.

The figures from the Upad research also showed that 78% of tenants have personal belongings that value more than £1,000, with 22% having belongings  with an aggregate value of over £5,000.

Upad founder James Davis stated:

It is madness that tenants are exposing themselves like this, regardless of whether they are trying to save money or, for some reason, think their landlord’s own insurance will keep them covered in the event of loss or damage to their property.

Tenants are far better served having contents insurance that they don’t need rather than finding out they badly need it at precisely the time when something goes horribly wrong. Remember that, even in a fully furnished property, tenants will still have plenty of their own belongings. If tenants are unsure about their level of cover they should check their insurance policy or with their letting agent or landlord.

During the tenancy application process, Paul Carr Residential Lettings recommend that our prospective tenants take out both contents cover for their personal possessions and also cover for accidental damage to the landlord’s contents (such as carpets).

We can assist our tenants in getting the appropriate cover and will provide a free no-obligation quote.

Further details can be found in our Tenants Guide available on our website.

Right to Rent could impact those without a British passport

According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), almost 20% of British citizens could find it harder to access rental property.

The industry trade body surveyed over 900 landlords and reports that 44% of them said they are less likely to let homes to tenants without a British passport.

Currently 17% of British people do not own a passport and this means that gaining access to housing in the private sector may become more difficult for them.

The government’s Right to Rent scheme has been in operation since February 2016 and the RLA has been researching its impact.

Under this legislation, landlords, or letting agents acting on their behalf, are required to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants.

The survey found that over 50% of the participants are now less likely to consider letting to people who are currently living outside of the UK.

Also, 22% said that they are now less likely to let to EU nationals or those from the European Economic Area.

What are the biggest causes of deductions from rental deposits?

When renting out a property, most landlords – or their letting agents – opt to take a deposit from the tenant(s) prior to the tenancy starting.

Deposits offer a level of protection to landlords, meaning that, if the tenant breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement, they can them make appropriate deductions from the deposit.

Clear property damage, poor cleanliness or anything that is different from the property’s original state, which is easy to identify if there is an inventory management report and a schedule of condition in place at the start of the tenancy agreement, will enable the landlord or their agent to rightly off-set the compensation from the tenant’s deposit.

Research by interior specialists Hillarys, part of ongoing research into the habits of Britons and their attitudes towards renting, showed that top reasons that tenants were given for why they had lost part, or all, of their tenancy deposit.

Marks on the walls, carpet stains, the need for redecorations and mould were among the five most common reasons listed as to why tenants had had money deducted.

Broken furniture29%
Marks on walls24%
Carpet stains21%
Redecorations12%
Mould9%

Spokesperson for Hillarys, Tara Hill, said:

Security deposits are an unavoidable part of renting a property, and can be an essential way for landlords to deal with damage caused by tenants. But they can result in disputes and are a major cause of distrust among tenants.

Whilst there appears to be an issue around the lack of trust when related to deposit protection, according to the research, Paul Carr Residential Lettings use The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), which is run by The Dispute Service under a government awarded contract.

For further details in regards to The Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the guidelines Paul Carr Residential Lettings follow, please see our Tenant’s Guide.

Quarter of households will be private renters by 2021

According to new research, the proportion of households living in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) will rise to 24% over the next four years.

The Knight Frank Multihousing Report has suggested that some 5.79 million households will be private renters by the end of 2021.

The survey of over 10,000 tenants revealed that 68% expect to still be living in the PRS in three years’ time.

The young professional demographic, 25-34-year-olds, make up the largest proportion of private renters.

The biggest concerns for tenants are affordability, location and then the rental property itself.

Tim Hyatt, head of residential lettings at Knight Frank, said:

The flexibility that renting offers has reinforced its popularity as both a sensible and accepted solution for young couples without children and those living on their own but also highlights an expected rise in older households over the next five years.

The number of people renting out of choice rather than due to affordability of ownership constraints is an interesting indicator of how the market will continue to thrive in terms of tenant demand.

Institutional investment in the PRS is set to rise to £70 billion over the next five years, according to the research. The changes in recent years, including the 3% stamp duty surcharge and the restriction of BTL mortgage interest tax relief, have made institutional, large scale investment in the PRS more appealing.

If you are currently a landlord or are looking to invest in a rental property, please contact our Lettings Hub and find out how we are committed to getting you the best rental value for your property.

Top tips for renting a property

The private rental sector of the UK property market has grown dramatically since the late 1990’s and the growth is predicted to continue.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 36% of households in England and Wales were rented rather than owner-occupied in 2011.

Being a tenant is widely accepted as a viable alternative to home ownership, particularly among those who may not yet be willing or able to consider buying a permanent home. Renting a property should be an enjoyable experience and for those who are new to the process, On The Market have put together the following top tips for renting a property.

Preparing your finances
Decide how much you can reasonably afford to pay in rent each month. Take into account your general costs of living and the fact that you will be paying Council Tax as well as fuel bills, contents insurance, TV licence and broadband. In addition, you will need to budget at least six weeks’ rent as the amount to be put down as security deposit for the length of the tenancy.

Finding a suitable property to rent
Search for properties in areas that you want to live in and create a shortlist of potentials to go and look at. Remember that the rental market is usually fast-moving and that good properties in popular areas don’t stay on the market for very long. If you see something that may suit your needs, get your skates on and quickly go and see it. Get in touch with the letting agents and register to receive alerts when new places come available. Many letting agents belong to industry bodies such as the ARLA Propertymark (formally the Association of Residential Lettings Agents) or the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). This can provide some peace of mind to tenants that they will be dealt with in a professional manner.

Asking questions
When you find a property that you would like to rent, you will most probably have read about it online or in an agent’s printed details. You will have seen only basic information, so if there is anything that is unclear or not stated don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, check who is responsible for maintaining the garden, and whether there are any restrictions concerning pets or smoking in the premises. If you clear such questions at the earliest stage you won’t waste money applying to rent an unsuitable property. Don’t hesitate to ask the letting agent for a list of all the charges that you may incur throughout the process of applying to rent the property.

The tenancy agreement
Assuming you pass the checks and referencing process, the agent will draw up an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement for signing by you and the landlord. Read the agreement very carefully before signing and if you are unsure of anything don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. The tenancy agreement is a legal document and binds you and the landlord to the terms within it. Make sure they are in accordance with your understanding.

The deposit
You will be required to pay a security deposit that will be held by the agent on behalf of the landlord for the duration of the tenancy. Its purpose is to provide the landlord with compensation if you damage the property or its contents. Fair wear and tear is excluded from these dilapidations. All deposits in assured shorthold tenancies must be registered with one of the government-approved tenancy deposit schemes that guarantees no-one can run off with the money. The deposit scheme will also provide a dispute resolution service if, at the end of the tenancy, you cannot agree the amount charged by the landlord or their agent for the dilapidations.

Inventories
Even if the property is being let unfurnished, it is really important to have a properly prepared and comprehensively detailed inventory, which is carefully reviewed and signed by tenant and landlord. It will list any existing faults in the property such as areas of damaged decoration, marks on carpets or chips in bath enamel. This ensures that when the dilapidations are assessed at the end of the tenancy you will not be charged for those that were in the property when you took it over. A good inventory will include photographs of such faults.

Paying the rent
You will probably be paying the monthly rent by standing order to the landlord or their agent. Always ensure that rent is paid on time and in full. Non-payment of rent is a serious matter that can end up in court. If there is any problem with the property, do not withhold payment of the rent. Such an action is guaranteed to make resolution all the more difficult and puts you in breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement. It can also show up in future referencing checks and might cause problems if you come to rent another property.

At the end of the tenancy
When the tenancy period is nearing its end, you can ask if the landlord will agree to renew the tenancy (the amount of the rent may change and there may be some administration charges to pay) or you can leave the property. Arrange to move out by the agreed time on the agreed day. Make sure the property is clean and tidy and in at least the same condition as when you moved in. On the moving day, the inventory should be checked at the property by the landlord or their agent, with you in attendance, and it should be signed off by you as correct before you vacate. Take a note of the meter readings for gas and electricity and apply for final billing. Don’t forget to arrange with Royal Mail to redirect mail to your new address (ensure the redirection is specifically for mail in your name).

Repaying your deposit
Shortly after you move out, you will receive an account from the landlord or their agent detailing the charges for dilapidations, if any, that you agreed when the inventory was reviewed during the check-out. Providing you agree the amounts, the balance of your deposit should be returned without delay.

If you are looking to rent in the North Birmingham area, please call our Lettings Hub on 0121 308 7676 to start your rental journey with Paul Carr Residential Lettings.

We are committed to making the application process and your tenancy as stress free as possible.

Top 20 Must-Have features revealed

New research has highlighted the Top 20 Must-Have features that would encourage people to purchase a seller’s property. Are these the same when looking at renting a property?

Can you guess what they are? Here is the full list:

  1. Central heating
  2. Double glazing
  3. A garden
  4. Secure doors and windows
  5. Driveway or dedicated parking space
  6. Plenty of electrical sockets
  7. Local shops and amenities
  8. A good, reliable broadband connection strong enough to stream TV and films.
  9. Friendly neighbours
  10. At least 2 toilets
  11. A bath
  12. A good energy efficiency rating
  13. A new boiler/central heating system
  14. A reliable, clear mobile phone signal.
  15. A shower cubicle
  16. A garage
  17. Cavity wall insulation
  18. A land line telephone
  19. A living room big enough for a large, flat screen television.
  20. A dining room

The research shows that several must-haves of the past, including period features and conservatories, didn’t make the list. What’s more, only 13% of participants indicated that they felt highly rated schools to be a must-have property feature.

The survey spokesman stated:‘We found that many potential buyers are prioritising efficiency, security and connectivity over aesthetic features.’

This suggests that modern buyers are buying with their heads rather than their hearts and that investing in things like a new boiler, additional electrical sockets or modernising home insulation could be a smarter investment than traditional selling points.

He continued:

It is surprising to see previous must-haves such as good schools and conservatories fail to make the top 20.

However, our research shows that buyers are becoming more financially savvy and are willing to make compromises on the finer details of a property to keep costs down and avoid expensive work in the future.

Do you agree with the list? What would be your number one Must-Have? Let us know in the comments.

Politicians must vote for housing

Principal of Paul Carr Estate Agents, Paul Carr, looks ahead to the 2017 General Election and an often ignored – but vitally important – area of policy.

No doubt Brexit, the economy and the NHS will dominate the 2017 General Election. Energy, education and defence should also get a strong look-in while the devolved governments will be trying to get as much air time as possible.

But do spare a thought for housing, as, on the evidence of the recent past, it doesn’t look as if any political party will.

Over the past nineteen hearts, and during the tenure of four Prime Ministers – Blair, Brown, Cameron and May – there have been no fewer than fourteen housing ministers.

This post seems to have become a stepping-stone for ministers who are either on an upwardly mobile career path or heading in the opposite direction into the political wilderness. That such an important part of our daily lives can be dealt with in such a perfunctory way seems short sighted and negative to most outside Westminster.

Property is a national obsession yet the politicians seem to treat it as a short stop to somewhere else. Property also provides important jobs and revenue through allied industries such as furniture, flooring, lighting and decorating, and in the service sector – finance, legal, surveying, etc.

We need more housing in the UK and we need better housing. Yet successive governments have failed to plan, have failed to act and have failed to build the 250,000 new homes that we are estimated to need each year. They have failed to establish any sort of meaningful housing policy – indeed how could there be a meaningful one with so many different housing ministers? By contrast, in the same nineteen-year period, there have been only seven Home Secretary’s.

Too few new homes being built creates greater demand for the properties that are already part of the ageing national estate. Strong demand and insufficient supply inevitably means rising property prices. The lack of any cohesive housing policies over two decades has not just added to the housing problem but has helped create it.

No market likes uncertainty and for the fourth year in succession, we have an important election which will bring fresh uncertainty. Brexit will rumble on for several years yet, adding to this uneasiness. But we hope that whichever party prevails on June 8th, the new Prime Minister will take his or her housing ministry more seriously.

We need a committed housing minister prepared to stay in the job for more than sixteen months. We also hope that the new housing minister will not use housing as another easy way to create revenue without first thinking through the implications a higher rate of tax will have on the property market as a whole, and our lives as citizens – after all, we all have to live somewhere.

What if ‘Friends’ had been set in Birmingham?

What if ‘Friends’ had been set in Birmingham …

1. The opening credits would be set in Victoria Square
2. Central Perk would just be another Costa branch
3. Or more likely, just a pub.
4. They’d all live in unaffordable flats in The Mailbox
5. Except Phoebe, who’d live in Nechells.
6. Instead of “How you doin’?”, Joey would say “Alright bab?”.
7. And he’d be more into balti than pizza
8. He’d be a regular cast member on Doctors!
9. Which would lead to him being nominated for an award by The Midlands Royal Television Society. He’d lose, ungracefully.
10. He’d then volunteer to host the BBC’s Children in Need, where he’d end up making a small appearance reading out a couple of local donations from Birmingham.
11. Rachel would work in Selfridges
12. Where she’s take up vaping to try and get close to her boss
13. Monica would work at Adam’s or Purnell’s
14. Or anywhere that was impossible to book a table or find parking
15. Monica’s homeware obsession would be fuelled by PROVIDE
16. Paul the Wine Guy’s nickname would be explained by him having worked at Loki
17. And Pete would have joined Birmingham Wrestling Club
18. Ross would work in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

The cast of TV series Friends
19. And lecture at BCU
20. Where he’d get into a relationship with a fresher
21. His sandwich rage would have been justified because it was a Philpotts special
22. Ross’ sofa would be from the neverending DFS sale
23. Ross would start dating someone from Coventry but fall asleep on the train and end up in London
24. Chandler and Joey would lose Ben on the Number 11 Bus
25. And still no one would know what Chandler did for a living
26. Ross, Chandler, and Joey would be frequent visitors to Villa park, where Ross would be smacked in the face by a stray football.
27. Phoebe would drive an Uber by night
28. And work at the spa in the Cube during the day
29. Phoebe would apply for Britain’s Got Talent when they’re auditioning in Birmingham
30. Which would result in “Smelly Cat” becoming a viral hit on YouTube
31. Phoebe’s wedding wouldn’t have taken place in the snow because it never snows in Birmingham
32. There would be a lot more swearing
33. Instead of taking a trip to Barbados, the group would travel to Magaluf.
34. Monica and Chandler would eventually buy a big house in Sutton Coldfield
35. Ross would be able to stop Rachel getting on the plane because there’s only one airport in Birmingham
36. But in reality he’d get horribly lost in the confusing car park and she’d end up in Paris after all

Thanks to BuzzFeed for the laughs!

Tenant happiness on the rise due to longer rentals

A study of over 3,000 tenants has found that an increasing number of renters are very happy with their living situation.

The LSL Corporate Client Department’s 2017 Tenant Survey found that 32% of renters claim to be very happy, which is up from 28% last year.

A further 37% claimed that they are happy, up slightly from 36% in 2016.

The survey claims that the increase in satisfaction amongst tenant is due to a reduction in frustrations with maintenance, fees and restrictions.

The report also highlighted growth in the long-term rental market with 33% of tenants having rented for six years or longer, which is up from 29% in 2016.

Renters were split into four groups in the survey, namely, Younger Independents, Struggling Savers, Moving Up and Reconciled with Renting.

The Struggling Savers and Moving Up groups are more likely to be renting due to having a lack of deposit or have difficulty in getting a mortgage. This means they are less inclined to see renting as a lifestyle choice.

The Young Independents and Reconciled with Renting groups are, on the other hand, more likely to appreciate the flexibility that renting offers them.

Conditions of the rental property and value for money were the two most important deal breakers for the tenants surveyed. These were followed by good communication with landlords/letting agents and the overall quality of the landlord.

If you are thinking of becoming a landlord, 28% of tenants said that they would pay more rent if they were allowed to keep pets and 21% said they would pay more for high speed internet. Points to think over!

Ian Fletcher, director of policy (Real Estate) at the British Property Federation said:

“The results show that the vast majority of the sector’s customers are happy but there is no room for complacency. The rental sector’s customer base is changing, for example with far more families, and what customers want is changing too.”

He continued:

“The private rented sector can’t divorce itself from these wider social, economic and technological changes and the impact that is having on how people want to lead their lives.”

If you are looking to rent a property or are looking to become a landlord, please contact our Residential Lettings team to find out about our with you every step of the way personal service.