Many contracts can be long and some are quite difficult to understand but, unfortunately, there's no substitute for reading the contract carefully. Once you've found a place, don't feel pressured into signing before you're ready, good landlords will let you take the contract and any guarantor forms away for at least 24 hours before you sign. You may find our Tenancy Checklist helpful. You can also read more information from Shelter about rental agreements.
Letting Agent Fees
Most fees charged by landlords and agents have been banned with effect from 1st June 2019 though the ban will only apply if you signed your current tenancy on or after the 1st June 2019.
The ban covers most private tenancies, including assured shorthold tenancies, student houses, HMO's and lodger agreements. It applies to fees charged to tenants and their guarantors.
Further details can be found here
You can still be charged:
- for the cost of replacing a key if you lose one
- if you are more than 14 days late paying your rent
- if you want to change your tenancy or bring it to an end
Paying a deposit (damages)
This deposit is usually paid to your landlord when you sign your tenancy agreement. It is a safeguard against any damages caused to the property beyond normal wear and tear. The total deposit requested can be no more than 5 weeks rent for the whole property.
If you signed a tenancy agreement for an assured shorthold tenancy it is a legal requirement for your landlord to protect your deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme 30 days after receiving it. If your tenancy is covered by the scheme and the landlord has not complied with the rules, you can enforce your rights under the Housing Act 2004, by applying to the County Court.
Read more about this on the Shelter website.
This is a sum of money paid to the landlord or accommodation agency to hold a property. You should only pay a holding deposit if you are certain that you want the property. If you agree to pay a holding deposit and then decide not to sign the contract, the landlord or agency will probably be entitled to keep the deposit. A holding desposit should not exceed 1 weeks' rent, under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
Most landlords and agents will ask for a guarantor. This is someone who can guarantee that your rent will be paid and will accept liability of any costs if you do not pay them. Guarantors are usually your parents, a family member, guardian or friend and must be shown all terms and be in writing. Note that they are usually liable for any breaches of your tenancy agreement so choose carefully.
You can find more information here.
Usually, guarantors need to be resident in the UK so if you are an international student you may not have anyone in the UK to act as your guarantor. In these circumstances, the landlord may ask you to pay more rent in advance (e.g 6 months or sometimes more).