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Topic: First time renting in the UK questions  (Read 884 times)

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First time renting in the UK questions
« on: April 26, 2019, 02:20:52 AM »
Can anyone provide me with a be-all-end-all list of documents we might possibly need to get a rental? I’m getting conflicting info from the few estate agents I’ve contacted.

Some background:
Hubby is traveling over in about a month to secure a rental. He has a UK passport and employment. We are currently living in the US and have never lived in the UK.

Am I correct in thinking that we have to arrange each viewing with the listing agent?
How quickly does the process usually go once you’ve found a property you like?
Is there a good link to guidance on how to set up utilities, etc.?
When an estate agent refers to “the first term” is that the first month or the length of the lease?


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2019, 08:51:55 AM »
Can anyone provide me with a be-all-end-all list of documents we might possibly need to get a rental? I’m getting conflicting info from the few estate agents I’ve contacted.

Some background:
Hubby is traveling over in about a month to secure a rental. He has a UK passport and employment. We are currently living in the US and have never lived in the UK.

Am I correct in thinking that we have to arrange each viewing with the listing agent?
How quickly does the process usually go once you’ve found a property you like?
Is there a good link to guidance on how to set up utilities, etc.?
When an estate agent refers to “the first term” is that the first month or the length of the lease?


Yes, you will need to contact numerous estate agents to see different properties.  The market is definitely different here.

If your husband doesn't have established UK credit, you may be asked to pay 6 months rent up front (probably a 50% chance of this).  I think you have pets?  You'll want to see if they are okay with pets before viewing.  When I was looking, I would say 1 in 10 places allow pets.  Usually you have to provide 2 months rent as a deposit when you have pets.

The length of the process will depend on where the property is in it's letting cycle.  If it's just been listed, it could be another 6 weeks before the current tenant vacates and it's available.  If it's immediately available, they will want you to move in ASAP. 

Utilities will be set up before you move in by the estate agent.  You'll want to check the meter readings are accurate.  You can shop around for utilities on a website like USWITCH after you've moved in.

The first term will be the length of the lease.  Could be 6 months, could be a year, could be 2 years.  YMMV.


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2019, 09:14:19 AM »
And just because a property says no pets, don't rule it out. It's always worth asking as they may be much more flexible than the ad implies.  :)
March 28th 2013-Moved to UK, husband on spouse visa.Oct 20th 2015-Applied by mail for FLR(M).Feb 1st 2016 FLR(M).March 7th 2018 ILR. YAY! March 21st NCS&JCAP appointment.


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2019, 09:28:22 AM »
Yes, you will need to contact numerous estate agents to see different properties.  The market is definitely different here.

If your husband doesn't have established UK credit, you may be asked to pay 6 months rent up front (probably a 50% chance of this).  I think you have pets?  You'll want to see if they are okay with pets before viewing.  When I was looking, I would say 1 in 10 places allow pets.  Usually you have to provide 2 months rent as a deposit when you have pets.

The length of the process will depend on where the property is in it's letting cycle.  If it's just been listed, it could be another 6 weeks before the current tenant vacates and it's available.  If it's immediately available, they will want you to move in ASAP. 

Utilities will be set up before you move in by the estate agent.  You'll want to check the meter readings are accurate.  You can shop around for utilities on a website like USWITCH after you've moved in.

The first term will be the length of the lease.  Could be 6 months, could be a year, could be 2 years.  YMMV.

Good info.

You can use websites like https://www.rightmove.co.uk/ to look for places ahead of time and the spouse in the USA can see all the details while the other actually views the properties. In our case it was good friends who actually did some of the viewings on our behalf before we arrived in England.

When we rented our place in 2016 the agent used an online company to switch over all the utilities for us and that made it really easy.  The deposit was also paid to a special holding company which was good because it meant the landlord was not going spend it.  At the end of the lease the agent did a house walkthrough, and instructed the holding company to release all of the deposit.
Dual USC/UKC living in the UK since May 2016


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2019, 09:56:58 AM »
Yes, the holding company for the deposit is law.  Your landlord will provide proof that your deposit was put into the "deposit protection scheme".


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2019, 12:13:53 PM »
Yes, the holding company for the deposit is law.  Your landlord will provide proof that your deposit was put into the "deposit protection scheme".

The holding deposit is given back to the tenants when the tenancy starts.

I hope the landlord hasn't made the mistake of putting a holding deposit in the deposit protection scheme as the holding deposit and the deposit held for the life of the tenancy (if the landlord is allowed to take a deposit) are two different things!

« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 12:17:46 PM by Sirius »


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2019, 12:22:50 PM »
The holding deposit is given back to the tenants when the tenancy starts.

I hope the landlord hasn't made the mistake of putting a holding deposit in the deposit protection scheme as the holding deposit and the deposit held for the life of the tenancy (if the landlord is allowed to take a deposit) are two different things!



Okay, pedantic but correct.  I was referring to the deposit for the lease being placed in the deposit protection scheme.  Just chiming in that what Durhamlad wasn't unusual but required.

Fortunately I've never encountered a holding deposit to hold prior to the tenancy being signed.  ;)


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2019, 01:18:12 PM »
Can anyone provide me with a be-all-end-all list of documents we might possibly need to get a rental? I’m getting conflicting info from the few estate agents I’ve contacted.

Some background:
Hubby is traveling over in about a month to secure a rental. He has a UK passport and employment. We are currently living in the US and have never lived in the UK.

Am I correct in thinking that we have to arrange each viewing with the listing agent?
How quickly does the process usually go once you’ve found a property you like?
Is there a good link to guidance on how to set up utilities, etc.?
When an estate agent refers to “the first term” is that the first month or the length of the lease?


For renting in England.

The government have issued a leaflet for guidance for tenants, but my MP has aready written to the relevant department that wrote that because HMRC confirrmed what I had said to him, that a very important part had been missed about having an overseas landlord that does not have a letting agent. This is what they missed.

"Tenants

If your landlord lives abroad and you pay over £100 a week, you need to register with HMRC and deduct tax from your rent.

You also need to register with HMRC if you pay a UK representative of your landlord, such as a friend or family member, who isn’t a letting agent.

You don’t need to deduct the tax if HMRC has told you in writing that the landlord can receive the rent with no tax deducted, but you must still register with HMRC and complete an annual report."

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/paying-tax-on-rent-to-landlords-abroad

That leaflet is still good for things about how your security deposit held for the lengh of the tenancy, must be deposited in a set scheme in a set time, otherwise the landlord must return this to you (even though you are still inthe property) and pay you compensation of up to 3 times the size of that deposit. But  since that leaflet was wriiten, two new laws have come in to protect tenants with another proposed major law change just announced, to bring in long term secure tenancies in private lets and to limit rent rise amounts, on the back of the report the government gave the other year.

If you can wait to sign a contract until 1st June 2019, then under the new law that starts then you will only pay a Holding Deposit of 1 weeks rent (and that must be returned to you based on a court case) and the Secutiry Deposit for the life of the tenancy can only be 5 weeks rent maximum. That law also ends Letting Agent contract fees to a tenant, reference check charges and immigration check charges and it will be much cheaper if you sign your contract from 1 June 2019.If you sign before that date and renew your contract at a later date, that will be a new contract and any deposit held of more then 5 weeks will have to be returned to you.



    "Cap holding deposits at no more than one week’s rent and security deposits at no more than 6 weeks’ rent. The draft bill also sets out the proposed requirements on landlords and agents to return a holding deposit to a tenant.

    Create a civil offence with a fine of £5,000 for an initial breach of the ban on letting agent fees and creating a criminal offence where a person has been fined or convicted of the same offence within the last 5 years. Civil penalties of up to £30,000 can be issued as an alternative to prosecution.

    Require Trading Standards to enforce the ban and to make provision for tenants to be able to recover unlawfully charged fees.

    Appoint a lead enforcement authority in the lettings sector.

    Amend the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to specify that the letting agent transparency requirements should apply to property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla."

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-action-to-end-letting-agent-fees
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 02:13:52 PM by Sirius »


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2019, 01:59:00 PM »
How quickly does the process usually go once you’ve found a property you like?

It depends when the previous tenant leaves the property, if there is still a tenant there as they allowed the landlord to have viewings while they lived there.

Is there a good link to guidance on how to set up utilities, etc.?

The house will still have the gas and electric supplier that the prevous person had. As said, take readings to give to the present supplier/s and find another supplier if you want to. energyhelpline is the site I use, but tick the box to show every deal (don't let it stay on offers they can switch you to today as they are the ones they make money from and they like to only show those). The new supplier/s arrranges the switch and that will take about 28 days to the new supplier.

The water and sewer board will bill you directly (if you live in England or Wales). Council Tax is for all the service you use or will have access to: the council will bill you and you pay monthly for 10 months but you can ask if you pay over 12 months. In Scotland the councils collect the water and sewage charges too for the companies. Counicl Tax is a priority debt as the councils have a lot of legal powers.


When an estate agent refers to “the first term” is that the first month or the length of the lease?

Lease means something different in the UK. Leasehold is if the freehold is not owned and is about buying properties. For renting it is a tenancy contract, between two parties, tenants and landlords.

It sounds like they are talking about the first contract. If it is for more that 6 months, make sure it has a 6 month break clause so you can leave if you don't like the place. Don't do an EU and get stuck being liable for the entire length of the contract because you forgot to put in a break clause!

 
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 02:09:24 PM by Sirius »


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2019, 03:37:11 PM »
Lease means something different in the UK. Leasehold is if the freehold is not owned and is about buying properties. For renting it is a tenancy contract, between two parties, tenants and landlords.

It sounds like they are talking about the first contract. If it is for more that 6 months, make sure it has a 6 month break clause so you can leave if you don't like the place. Don't do an EU and get stuck being liable for the entire length of the contract because you forgot to put in a break clause!

Can you expand on this please? What is an EU?

Here is what the estate agent said:
“I would suggest that you look for your husband to be the main tenant (due to you not being in the UK) with yourself being a permitted occupier to start, as this will make the process a lot more straight forward for yourself.  The reason I suggested a permitted occupier to start, is that you will not be in the UK to sign the TA (we only accept original signatures), very easy to add you to the tenancy later down the line after your first term is completed.”

The reason I’m asking about the length of the term is that I won’t be there to sign as well (my passport is currently away with my visa application, so I can’t travel)....I’m concerned that being listed as a permitted occupier may cause problems down the road for me when applying for ILR? Is this something that needs to be considered?


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2019, 04:27:22 PM »
Can you expand on this please? What is an EU?

The EU is the European Union... Brexit is all about the UK leaving the EU.

Quote
Here is what the estate agent said:
“I would suggest that you look for your husband to be the main tenant (due to you not being in the UK) with yourself being a permitted occupier to start, as this will make the process a lot more straight forward for yourself.  The reason I suggested a permitted occupier to start, is that you will not be in the UK to sign the TA (we only accept original signatures), very easy to add you to the tenancy later down the line after your first term is completed.”

The reason I’m asking about the length of the term is that I won’t be there to sign as well (my passport is currently away with my visa application, so I can’t travel)....I’m concerned that being listed as a permitted occupier may cause problems down the road for me when applying for ILR? Is this something that needs to be considered?

The estate agent is completely correct here... because it is illegal for you to be named on the tenancy agreement before you have a visa to live in the UK - the landlord can be fined £3,000 for renting to you before you have your visa.

So, what you should do is:
- have the tenancy put in your husband’s name
- once you arrive in the U.K., you can be added to the tenancy properly... or not, it’s up to you.

If you aren’t, when you apply for future visas, you just provide a letter from your landlord giving you permission to continue living there.




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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2019, 07:14:51 PM »
Don't do an EU and get stuck being liable for the entire length of the contract because you forgot to put in a break clause!

OK...sorry, I may be dense, but I’m confused....I know EU stands for European Union, but I don’t understand its meaning in the above context?


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2019, 08:02:47 PM »
OK...sorry, I may be dense, but I’m confused....I know EU stands for European Union, but I don’t understand its meaning in the above context?

It’s just because the post is by Sirius.  She’s lovely but definitely goes into political rants at every opportunity. 


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2019, 08:46:04 PM »
So, sorry, which country in the UK are you renting in? From what we did here in Scotland -

Looked at places on Rightmove.  Looked at the area, public transporation (important for us) routes, etc. Contacted landlords in advance to set up viewings. Arrived, checked into hotel, slept for two days, then went looking.

In advance, liking one of the flats, got pre-clearance of my credit, etc., to rent from them - filled out their application forms before we left the States. Turned out that was the second (or third?) place we viewed, and were ready to sign the lease as soon as we saw it. (It was vacant.) They were aware we were new in-country and didn't have a UK bank, and took the first month's rent and security deposit using a credit card. We saw the property on a Wednesday afternoon and signed the paperwork Thursday at about 11:00am. Then went to Ikea and spent a buncha cash on basic furniture that was delivered that Saturday morning. We moved in on that Sunday. (Had been at a hotel up the road.) Groceries were delivered by Tesco that evening.

The power was on when we arrived. We contacted the national grid to find out who the current supplier was, and ended up staying with them. Handled everything over the internet and telephone, retro after we got into the flat. No security deposit required. Once we had something in writing from the energy company I was able to go open a UK bank account, and then set up direct debit for my rent. (Most landlords want direct debit, I believe.)

The cable/internet took several weeks to get installed. Fortunately, when we needed to use the internet almost all the coffee shops/restaurants nearby had it free, as does the local library. Downtown Glasgow, I think, has free wireless just generally "around" down there.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 08:48:49 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: First time renting in the UK questions
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2019, 10:42:39 PM »
And just because a property says no pets, don't rule it out. It's always worth asking as they may be much more flexible than the ad implies.  :)

Just want to emphasis this ^^^

There are so many people that see "no pets" and don't bother asking when, in truth, there are a lot of landlords who wouldn't mind but if they are going through estate agents, the property will automatically get listed with "no" for whether pets are allowed or not (it happened with our listing). Definitely ask! Don't ask, don't get.
My, how time flies....

* Married in the US and applied for first spousal visa August 2013
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* ILR applied for January 2019 (using priority processing). Approved February 2019.
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HEY MOM, I'M A BRIT NOW :D


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