First Time Tenants: Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you are moving for the first time, or are coming back to the rental market after a long period, letting a property can be a daunting experience for those without significant experience of the market. We have put together 10 of our most commonly asked questions from first time renters to make your move a little bit easier.
I have viewed a flat that I like, what is the process for being selected as a tenant?
The Edinburgh lettings market can be very fast paced, with several tenant applications for each available property. Firstly, try not to panic! At Clan Gordon, we do not work on a first come first served basis so all applications are put forward to the landlord. When you apply, we will ask you to complete an online form providing the following information in order to help the landlord make an informed decision:
- Employment information for all applicants (including company, job title and salary)
- Year of study (students only)
- Ages of any children
- Information about any pets you may have
- Ideal move in date
- Ideal length of tenancy (minimum of 6 months)
Please note that your application is more likely to be successful if you are looking to move close to the availability date of the property to minimise void periods.
The final decision on the successful application is made by the landlord. We always aim to update applicants on if their application has been successful or not as quickly as possible, if you don’t get a response straight away it may be because we are waiting to hear back from the landlord.
Will I be referenced?
Yes. All of our tenants are referenced by HomeLet, a third party tenant referencing company. Each prospective tenant is sent a link to complete an online form including:
- Credit check
- Bank validation check
- Background search
- Financial sanctions check
- Current landlord reference
- Employment check
- Affordability calculation (applicants must have a combined income equivalent to 2.5 times the monthly rent)
I have been told that I need a guarantor, what does this mean?
Sometimes applicants do not meet the above referencing criteria, this can be for various reasons such as low affordability, or lack of address history; having a guarantor may help you to secure the property. The landlord would have to agree to a guarantor being used.
A guarantor must:
- Live in the UK
- Pass a reference check
- Agree to be liable to cover the rent in the event that it is not paid
Like a tenant, a guarantor will sign an agreement and will be asked to provide copies of proof of address and proof of identity.
What paperwork will I sign?
All Clan Gordon tenancies are Short Assured Tenancies so tenants must sign a Short Assured Tenancy Agreement before the start date of the tenancy. The Tenancy Agreement is a legal binding contract between the landlord and the tenants outlining the contractual obligations for each side.
The Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 also stipulates that a formal notice should be served confirming that the tenancy is a Short Assured Tenancy. This formal notice is called an AT5 form and all tenants are asked to sign this before they sign the Tenancy Agreement. Tenants also sign the Tenant Information Pack and the Prior Grounds.
All new tenants are scheduled an appointment with Kim prior to the start of their tenancy, this is an opportunity to read through the paperwork (draft copies can be sent in advance via email) and ask any questions.
What does ‘Joint and Several’ mean?
When there is more than one tenant named on the lease tenants are described as being ‘joint and severally liable’ for any damage to the property, non-payment of rent, or any other breach of the Tenancy Agreement. For example, if one tenant does not pay their agreed share of the rent, then all tenants are jointly responsible for the shortfall.
How much will my deposit be, and how do I know it is being held securely?
At Clan Gordon, our minimum deposit amount is one month’s rent plus £200. In some cases the deposit amount due can vary, but it will always be clearly stated on the property advert.
All tenant deposits are held in a government approved deposit scheme; a change in the law in 2012 means that deposits can no longer be held by a letting agent or the landlord. We will ensure that your deposit is held in a scheme, and that you have the details required to claim it back at the end of your tenancy.
Any deductions – e.g. for cleaning, damages or excessive wear and tear – are claimed for through the deposit scheme by the letting agent or landlord at the end of the tenancy. All deductions must be agreed by the tenants to ensure that this is done fairly.
When do I pay my first month’s rent?
Rent is paid in advance, so we must receive your first months’ rent prior to you moving into the property. This is usually paid by bank transfer, please leave enough time to have cleared funds in our account by the first day of your tenancy.
It is your responsibility as the tenant to set up a standing order with your bank for your monthly rent payments. The standing order should be set up a few days before your rent due date so that we have cleared funds on the due date each month.
When will I receive the keys to the property, what will happen on my move in date?
Providing that the first months’ rent has been received, and all tenants have signed the tenancy agreement, you can collect your keys from our office one the first day of your tenancy.
We aim to provide a check-in at the property with Thomas for every new tenancy. This is an opportunity to learn more about the property – e.g. how to operate the boiler – and ask any questions that you may have.
Who is responsible for the utility bills and council tax?
Tenants are responsible for ensuring that utility bills (gas and electricity) and council tax are paid on time. We will take meter readings before you move in and pass these, along with your details, to the utility providers, however it is your responsibility to set up an appropriate payment plan. We will inform you of the current utility providers when you move in.
Do I have to get insurance?
Yes. As a tenant it is your responsibility to ensure that your contents are adequately insured, even in a furnished property. There are policies available that also provide cover in case of accidental damage to the landlords property.
I have been asked to check and return a signed copy of the inventory, why is this important?
The inventory is a document containing a detailed description (including pictures) of the condition of the property when you move in. It is important that you take the time to check through the inventory and make sure that you are happy with the findings. If there are any aspects that you do not agree with we ask that you contact us to discuss. Any disputed areas should be noted on the inventory and the original signed and returned to our office within 7 days of your move in date.
The inventory is commonly used as evidence if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy, so it is in the tenants best interest to check, sign and return the document at the beginning of the tenancy.