Last month, I left you with feelings of Deja Vu but looking at the current level of business we have done in March, I’m quite pleased to see a significant increase in business compared with March 2015.

My only rants this month is are on-going one’s – the lack of available properties, (some landlords continue to sell) the lack of new landlords, (put off by recent changes in legislation) and the number of residential Estate Agents diversifying into lettings. Where we’re based, they’re all involved!

When meeting new, prospective tenants I always seem to find myself being somewhat protective of them, should I personally not have anything suitable and affording advice like, for example, asking that they check that any potential property is available long-term and the landlord isn’t a vendor that is unable to sell at this time. Nobody wants to move into a new home, settle down and then be asked to move out again.

So I have set out a few guidelines for tenants.

Never rush into a tenancy without knowing your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of your landlord or letting agent. Ask to see a blank copy of the agents tenancy agreement.

What exactly are you looking for? The more information you give me the better.

Monthly budget including rent, but do bear in mind and factor in to your budget the cost of heating, (gas and electric) water rates and council tax.

Commute distances and the right transport links to work, to see friends and family and whether its location suits your leisure activities.

How long do you want to rent for? A few months, (although an Assured Shorthold Tenancy can be for any period) the landlord has a right to specify the minimum length of tenancy he or she requires and if they’re a professional landlord they won’t want to grant a few weeks or months. Six months or a year is the norm.

What amenities (schools, hospitals, shops, restaurants) do you need to be close to?

De Vere Letting Bureau are members of NALS, (The National Approved Letting Scheme).

The advantage of opting to rent through a professional agent is that our staff know how to let a property correctly. It is as simple as that.

What to ask when viewing a property.

If you are viewing with a letting agent, they will make sure the property being let is in good condition especially if they are managing it.

If you are viewing a property directly with the landlord or even better, the current tenant, it may be prudent to ask what bills you’ll have to pay in addition to the rent, what is the local area is like and if an agent doesn’t hold the deposit, then which government approved tenancy deposit scheme will your deposit go into and be secured with?

Most long established and reputable letting agents have there own team of maintenance chaps, mine have been with me for more years than I care to remember, I had hair when I first met them! If you are moving into a non managed property, who would you call if there is a problem and how quickly will they respond to you?

Make sure you also see an Energy Performance Certificate and Gas Safety Record for the property. While not required by law, some landlords may also provide an Electrical Safety Condition Report.

Once a rent has been agreed, the landlord or letting agent should carry out referencing checks to ensure you or a guarantor can pay the monthly rent.

ID Checking & Immigration Act 2014

You will also be asked to provide two forms of ID: one photographic, such as your passport or driving licence, and the other to confirm proof of current address, usually a utility bill or bank statement dated within the last three months.

I have touched on this in an earlier blog, but from 1 February 2016 there is an obligation on landlords to ensure that any tenant has the ‘Right to Reside’ in the UK. Generally, if you live within the UK or EU then your passport is confirmation of your Right to Reside, but if you live outside the EU, proof of your valid visa or biometric card will also be requested.

A holding deposit is normally taken if you wish to secure a property and although variable, we take the equivalent of Two weeks and the administration fee.

Monthly rent is paid in advance with the first month proving to be the costly one as you also have to pay the damaged deposit.

Reputable agents will register your deposit with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme which affords you the protection of your deposit and access to an independent party if required at the end of your tenancy.

If not managing a property a good agent will ensure you have contact details for your landlord. If managing the property an agent like Devere Letting Bureau will appoint a dedicated member of staff to assist you with any issues or queries.

Please contact myself or any of us here should you require any advice.

All that remains is for me to say Happy Easter