If you are looking to rent a property, Empire Estates can help.
We manage a large number of residential properties for private landlords who have instructed us to act on their behalf to find suitable tenants for their property.
Please find our guidance notes and our list of fees below relating to renting a property, setting out the obligations of both the landlord and the tenant.
This guide is not an authoritative interpretation of the law but we hope that you find the information useful.
Once you have viewed the property and arrived at a decision to make an application to proceed with a rental we require:
It is a requirement that we take up references on all adults who are renting/occupying the property through Empire Estates which we arrange through an online credit reference agency. Each Tenant will be required to provide one form of photographic identification i.e. passport/driving licence, and proof of residency for the previous three years.
The references normally include:
- A full credit search
- An employer’s reference, confirming salary
- A previous Landlord/Managing Agent reference
Please be aware that in order to pass our referencing criteria ideally you should be in permanent employment with an annual income in excess of 30 x the monthly rental. For example, on a property rental of £1,000 per calendar month you would require an annual income of £30,000 (30 x £1,000 = £30,000).
Should your particular circumstances differ from the above, please discuss the situation with a member of staff where solutions can often be proposed. Reference forms for completion will be forwarded to you by email. We ask that you complete the forms directly online within 24 hours providing any additional information requested. Should a problem occur with the application then we will notify you and a guarantor may be required. Please note that if you have any adverse credit this is likely to affect your ability to pass the referencing process and it is therefore important you disclose this information to us as early as possible.
If an application is declined by our referencing company, either with or without a guarantor, then the property will be put back onto the market for re-letting.
You will only be offered a tenancy of the property, subject to the above requirements and the terms of the tenancy agreement, the payment of the application fee, the deposit, the agreed advanced rent and the Landlord’s agreement that the tenancy can proceed.
A list of our Tenant Fees can be found here.
Holding Deposit Fee
A holding deposit fee will be held by Empire Estates until the commencement of the Tenancy; this fee is non-refundable in the event that the applicant(s) do not proceed with the Tenancy or unsatisfactory reference responses are obtained. When the Tenancy proceeds the reservation fee will be offset against the check-in monies due to be paid in cleared funds. Should your offer be rejected by the Landlord, any monies paid will become fully refundable (less any applicable bank charges) once we are in receipt of cleared funds.
Initial Rent Payment and Security Deposit
Subject to contract, once all relevant references have been approved, arrangements will be made for you to meet at our offices to sign the Tenancy Agreement and other relevant documents prior to your move-in date. You may also be asked to sign the Tenancy Agreement and other relevant documents electronically.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING MONIES MUST BE REMITTED TO US WITHIN 5 WORKING DAY OF YOUR OFFER BEING ACCEPTED:
- First Rent Instalment – less Holding Deposit Fee
- Damage Deposit – equivalent to 5 weeks’ rent held in a custodial scheme – DPS
Please be aware that we can only accept cleared funds by prior bank transfer.
Inventory and Check-In
An Inventory is prepared prior to the start of the Tenancy. It is in your best interests to check the document at the start of the Tenancy. Any damage not shown on the Check-in Inventory at the start of the Tenancy will be your responsibility at the end of the Tenancy. The Landlord will pay for the Inventory Make and Check-in and Check-out. Should you withdraw from proceeding with the Tenancy you will be liable to pay a cancellation fee which will be charged to you unless at least 24 hours’ notice to postpone or cancel the appointment has been given by you and acknowledged in writing by Empire Estates.
At the end of the Tenancy the Landlord is liable for the cost of the Inventory Check-out. The Check-out at the end of the Tenancy is to check that the property is left by you in as good a condition as when you moved in and, if not, to note the items that have been damaged and assess any compensation payable to the Landlord. You will have to pay compensation to the Landlord for the damage. This sum will be deductible from the Deposit with the written consent of both parties.
All Tenancies are subject to satisfactory references and subject to contract. Please be aware that if the move-in date has to be changed at your request, or as a result of the move-in monies not having been received in good time, then an administration charge will be levied in order for us to amend the legal documentation and appointments accordingly. If the Landlord, at his discretion, does not agree to your proposed change of move-in date he reserves the right to re-market the property and your Holding Deposit Fee will be refundable.
A security deposit is required for all tenancies and is equivalent to 5 weeks' rent. This deposit is in addition to the advance rent payment required at commencement of tenancy and must be paid in cleared funds before the signing of the Agreement and key hand over. We recommend that you make a bank transfer for the payment of funds and we will provide you with our bank details.
A tenancy will only proceed once all funds have been paid and are showing as cleared funds in our letting’s bank account.
The deposit acts as security for the furtherance of your obligations as a tenant under the tenancy agreement and as protection for the landlord against damage to the property. This deposit will be returned to you at the end of the tenancy term without interest, subject to deductions for damage or any other dilapidation costs that may be necessary to compensate the landlord for any breach of the tenancy agreement.
Empire Estates hold all security deposits within a government approved scheme – The Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS). Please refer to their website for further information.
Legal notices & the tenancy agreement
Before you sign for a tenancy you will be given a copy of the Tenancy Agreement and any appropriate notices. Read these carefully and ask us questions if you are unsure of any points. The Contract/Agreement takes the form of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and it is normal for the term to be 12 months with a ‘Break Clause’; however a minimum term is no less than 6 months.
A break clause gives flexibility for landlord and tenant and the clause is listed as:
“The Landlord or Tenant may terminate the tenancy on or after six months of the term on a rent due date following not less than two months’ notice in writing given by one party to the other or his Agent whereupon the tenancy shall absolutely determine but without prejudice to the other rights and remedies of the Landlord or Tenant hereunder.”
If the landlord requires repossession, a Section 21 Notice (two months’ notice) must be served in writing to the tenant. Tenants will be responsible for the payment of all utilities, including gas, electricity, council tax and water during the tenancy, unless otherwise agreed with the landlord.
You are required by law to inform the Council Tax Registrar of your change of address and pay the appropriate council tax.
Renewals of the Tenancy Agreement and Notices
Prior to the end of the Tenancy, provided you are not in breach of the Tenancy Agreement, we will approach the Landlord asking if they wish to renew the Tenancy. Once we receive the instructions that the Landlord wishes to renew then we will approach you to find out if you wish to remain in the property. You will be informed in writing of the terms required by the Landlord. You will need to make a firm decision in good time so that any new Tenancy or Renewal Agreement can be prepared and signed by both parties prior to the renewal date. Should either party not wish to extend the Tenancy then a Notice may be served upon you at least two months before the end of your Tenancy advising you of the date that you will be due to leave the property. If you do not comply with the Notice then possession proceedings will be taken against you. You will be liable for all legal costs incurred. You cannot give notice to end your Tenancy during the fixed term, apart from using the break clause included in the Tenancy Agreement (if applicable). Should you choose to leave the property early your obligations remain until the Tenancy ends.
If Empire Estates manages or collects rent on the property then the rental should be paid directly from your bank to our bank account in the form of a standing order every month, four days in advance of the rent due date (a standing order mandate is available from our office). Empire Estates has no control over the monthly standing order payments as this is under your instruction.
Repairs and Maintenance
It is your responsibility to promptly report any repairs or maintenance that may be required to the managing agent or Landlord directly if he/she manages the property. If the Landlord is managing the property you will be given contact details at the start of the Tenancy. You should not, except in an emergency, instruct any contractor to carry out any works to the property. If you do so without prior approval from the Landlord or the managing agent then you may have to pay the contractor’s invoice yourself; the amount may not be repayable to you by the Landlord nor be deductible from future rent payments.
If Empire Estates is managing the property, repairs must be reported in writing (including any photos) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Change of Circumstances
If your circumstances change during the Tenancy and/or you start to receive housing benefit, you must inform your Landlord or Empire Estates of this immediately.
During the tenancy term you have the right to enjoy the property without interruption provided that you abide by the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement.
However, we as agents have an obligation under our contract with the landlord, to inspect the property at regular intervals. We undertake to do this at approximately 3/4 month intervals (unless the Landlord fully manages the property).
We will contact you to make a mutually convenient appointment. Inspection of the premises is undertaken to ensure that you are observing the conditions of the tenancy agreement and it allows the opportunity for you to discuss with us any personal or property related matters.
End of the term
At the end of the tenancy agreement you should prepare to hand the property back to the Landlord/Agent on the Check-out date. A mutually convenient appointment will be made with the Inventory Clerk, who will meet you at the property, take meter readings, collect keys and ensure that we have your forwarding address for the payment of all closing accounts. Under no circumstances should you allow the authorities to disconnect supplies.
The authorities should be informed that the managing agent will contact them when the property is handed over and provide details of the new account holder.
This may be the owner or a new tenant.
Inventory items should be placed in their respective rooms to facilitate easy checking on handing over. Read carefully the inventory/statement of condition that you received at commencement of your tenancy as this will be a benchmark as to the condition expected at the check-out. Carpets and soft furnishings should be professionally cleaned if done so at the start of your tenancy, this should be clarified when you move in. Liaise with us and arrange a convenient time for handing over the premises. We can advise of local trades people who will carry out all cleaning/preparation at a competitive rate.
Deductions from the security deposit
Should we need to replace items on the inventory which have been damaged, or clean the house at the end of the tenancy or if there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement; the return of your deposit will be delayed until all items are valued and replaced/cleaned/repaired.
We will aim to return your deposit within 10 working days, if there is no dispute. Otherwise 14 working days are allowed to reach a conclusion. Damage and breakage of the landlord’s fixtures, fittings and effects, lost inventory items etc., which occur during the period of the tenancy will incur deductions from your deposit.
It is the responsibility of the Tenant and Landlord to determine what amount, if any, is to be deducted from the deposit. Any dispute arising out of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which cannot be resolved between Landlord and Tenant is referred to the Deposit Redress Scheme for arbitration, which could mean further delays in the return of your deposit.
It is important, therefore, that you look after the property during the tenancy and take the utmost care to inspect the property and its fixtures and fittings at the outset. An inventory/statement of condition will be prepared prior to occupation and must be agreed by you at the start of your tenancy. It is most important to read through the inventory carefully and agree with its contents.
The inventory/statement of condition report will then form the basis of assessment of the property’s state at the end of the tenancy term. Fair wear and tear will obviously be taken into consideration. Damages that occur will be charged to your account, as will invoices from contractors employed to undertake necessary cleaning/repairs or replace any items.
Once the check-out report has been completed and deductions from your deposit agreed (if applicable), the deposit or balance of deposit will be returned to you.
Please do not hesitate to call, visit or email us at any stage prior to or during your tenancy if you wish to clarify any details.
Empire Estates are members of The Property Ombudsman, The Deposit Protection Scheme and Client Money Protect.