What is an EPC?

The Energy Performance Certificate is a government approved certificate that shows how energy effect the property is taking into account features such as double glazed windows, cavity wall insulation, loft insulation etc.

What is gas safety certificate and how often should I have one?

The Gas Safe Certificate is a safety inspection carried out by a Gas Safe approved engineer on all your gas appliances in the property including the boiler, Gas fires, oven and Gas Hob
This should be carried out yearly.

What is a tenancy agreement and an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

Tenancy is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that allows the tenant to live in a property as long as they pay the rent and follow the rules. A tenancy agreement is the document agreed between a landlord and tenant which sets out the legal terms and conditions of the rent. A tenancy agreement should be prepared before anyone rents the property.

The most common form of tenancy agreement used is an “Assured Shorthold” (an AST) under the 1988 Housing Act (amended 1996). This type of tenancy offers the most flexibility to both landlord and tenant; has straightforward notice procedures for bringing the tenancy to an end and a special Accelerated Possession court procedure should tenants fail to vacate. If certain specific conditions are met relating to the proposed letting, a “contractual” non-housing act tenancy must be created. One example of this would be what is commonly referred to as a Company Let where the tenant is a bona fide registered company, another would be where the annual rent equates to over £100,000.Very rarely, a prospective tenant may be offered a full “Assured” tenancy that gives very significant and potentially long-term security of tenure to a tenant and, for which a landlord can only get possession in very limited circumstances.

What is a Joint and several tenancy?

Mostly, where there is to be more than one (adult) person living in the property, the tenancy will say they are “jointly and severally” responsible. This expression means that, jointly, the tenants are liable for payment of all rents and all liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy, as well as any breach of the agreement. Individually, each tenant is responsible for payment of all rent and all liabilities falling upon the tenant, as well as any breach of the agreement until all payments have been made in full.

What are the rules with regards to access to the property?

A landlord, or his agent, or someone authorised to act on his behalf has a right to view the property to assess its condition and to carry out necessary repairs, or maintenance at reasonable times of the day. The law says that a landlord or agent must give a tenant at least 24 hours notice in writing (except in an emergency) of such a visit. Naturally, if the tenant agrees, on specific or odd occasions to allow access without the 24 hours prior written notice, that is acceptable. A clause in the tenancy agreement which tries to diminish or override a tenant’s rights in this respect would be void and unenforceable

What is an inventory/schedule of condition?

This is an absolutely essential document that provides a written benchmark which should be amended, updated and recreated before the beginning of each new tenancy. A properly constructed inventory/Schedule of Condition details the fixtures and fittings and describes their condition and that of the property generally. It is a document that helps protect the interests of both landlord and tenant.

What should be provided in a property if it is fully furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished?

Fully Furnished – Generally, you can expect a property that is described as fully furnished to include all of the main fixtures and fittings, furniture, white goods, plus standard crockery, cutlery, pots and pans etc.
Part furnished – part furnished properties vary enormously and it is really important to find out what is going to be provided as nothing is guaranteed.
Unfurnished properties – unfurnished properties will usually be provided with only basics such as curtains, carpets and light fittings. Sometimes landlords will provide fridges, freezers and washing machines.

What about insurance?

Landlords and tenants should take care to review any existing policies when renting or letting a property for the first time as some standard insurance products will either not provide cover, or might place restrictions on cover, for rented property and/or its contents. A failure to inform your insurer that you are renting/letting a property could invalidate any subsequent claim. It is for a landlord to insure the building and his/her contents, fixtures and fittings.
The tenants are responsible for insuring any of their own possessions. There are various specialist insurance products designed for landlords and tenants and rented property; – buildings, contents, legal expenses, emergency repair cover, rental guarantee cover etc.

Who is responsible for council tax, water rates, telephone and other utilities?

A tenant is liable for payment of council tax, water rates (unless otherwise stated), gas and electricity supplies up until the end of their tenancy – even if they vacate early.
It is not always the case that a property will have a telephone line, this is a question that should be asked when you first view the property, if it does not and you wish to get a line installed you need to know who will be responsible for paying for it as it is not always the landlord responsibility.