Guide for tenants
Here's our guide to finding and renting a property in Exeter, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton and the surrounding areas of Devon.
Finding a property to rent in Exeter and east Devon
If you’re looking to rent a flat or house in the Exeter or east Devon, the quickest way is often to first shortlist the areas that interest you. Think about what you’d want close at hand, like a station, bars or access to the local parks and green spaces.
Once you’ve chosen your areas of interest, look on this website for the sort of flat or house to rent in Exeter or east Devon that would suit you. If there’s nothing available, you can register your details with us so we can let you know when something suitable comes up.
Once you see a property you like the look of, take a good look at the property’s details and the map. If you’re not familiar with the area, please ask us or better still take a trip there to get to know it first.
You also need to think about who’ll be living there with you, and what you’ll all need. Or if you’re sharing, having things like enough bathrooms to cope with the morning shower-rush might be important.
If the property is of interest, contact us to arrange a viewing. (Don’t take too long to get round to this because the most popular properties can go quite quickly.) At this stage we’ll ask you some basic questions about what you’re looking for and perhaps suggest some alternatives that might be suitable too.
Viewing a property
On the viewing, it’s worth turning up a few minutes beforehand to get the feel for what’s going on in the immediate area. Once inside the property, think about who’s going to go where, whether there is enough storage (or space for cupboards). Check out exactly what’s included and what isn’t – which appliances, furniture and so on.
Once you’ve chosen the property you’d like to rent, we will discuss this with the landlord and if all is agreed, you will need to complete a tenancy application form.
Your moving-in date is usually around two to four weeks later.
The information we need before a tenancy
We will then ask you for various items of information and references, which can take up to two weeks to complete.
From all applicants we ask for:
- two forms of identification
- reference from a previous landlord, or
- if you have not rented previously recently, we will usually ask you for a guarantor
- a reference (status enquiry) from your bank or undertake an ‘Equifax’ credit search
If you are working, we will ask for:
- a reference from your employer
If you are in new employment, we may also ask for:
- a guarantor or previous employment references
If you are self-employed we will:
- ask to see your most recent business accounts or request an accountants reference
- we may request a guarantor where there is no accounts history
If you are a student we will need:
- a letter from your college or uni to confirm you are a student there
- a guarantor who guarantees the rent will be paid
Again this is only a general guide. Occasionally we vary these stipulations – either at our discretion, or at the request of the landlord or applicant – to ensure that a proper, but fair, check is made to verify the suitability of applicants for our landlords’ properties.
Before moving in
We will send you a statement showing the monies you owe before moving in. PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL MONIES OWED MUST BE CLEARED INTO OUR CLIENT ACCOUNT ON OR BEFORE THE MOVING-IN DAY. We cannot unfortunately let you move in without cleared funds.
You must also have signed the tenancy agreement before moving-in day.
When you move in, we will give you a moving-in pack, which contains all the information you may need in connection with your new tenancy.
What is the inventory?
When you first move into a property, we arrange for an Inventory/Schedule of Condition, which is an independent record of the condition of the property in every detail, the goods that are in the property and their condition.
This minimises any disagreements between the landlord and the tenants over the condition that the property has been left in, and helps prevent any disputes that could arise at a later date.
Paying your rent
Before the tenancy begins, we will tell you whether you should pay your rent to us, or directly to your landlord, and we will give you full instructions for this.
What are the landlord and tenant each responsible for?
Again this varies slightly on some properties, but generally speaking…
The landlord is usually responsible for:
- insuring the property against flood, fire and so on
- repairs and maintenance to the hot water and heating system, electricity and pipes
- repair of any appliances that were included with the property
- if it’s a flat, any service charges (for maintenance to the structure of the building (roof, exterior walls, windows etc), cleaning and electricity in the communal areas.
The tenant is usually responsible for:
- all bills for electricity and gas (if present), water, and council tax.
- bills for telephone, broadband or cable TV if you want these
- insuring your own possessions in the property
- repair of any appliances that the tenant has had installed
- keeping the property clean and in good condition
- informing the landlord or us about any defects.
Repairs and maintenance to the property
The landlord is usually responsible for:
- the hot water, heating system, pipes, electricity
- the structure of the building, ie walls, roof
- any appliances that were included with the property
If the problem is with one of these items, then either call us or your landlord – depending on which of our services your landlord has opted for, which you will have been told at the beginning of the tenancy.
If the problem is with something else, it will normally be up to you to sort it out, although if it is causing damage or sufferance to the property you should again call us or your landlord.
All deposits must be protected by one of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes licensed by the government, which
- provides an independent means of resolving any dispute that may arise between tenant and landlord
- means that landlords cannot unfairly hold on to tenants’ deposits
- gives all parties confidence that deposits are protected by a licensed organisation, which safeguards tenancy deposits against rogue landlords, tenants, and agents.
At the start of the tenancy, the landlord and the tenant are given details of how to get money returned. Should there be any breakages or damage to the property, both parties have an independent means of agreeing how the cost should be apportioned.
When you come to leave the property, an inventory clerk will come to do the ‘check out’, comparing the condition of the property and any contents to the inventory made at the start of the tenancy.
If there are no dilapidations, your deposit will be returned within 5 working days.
If the inventory identifies that dilapidations have occurred during your tenancy, your landlord may choose to withhold some of your deposit to cover the costs. In most cases, the amount to be withheld will be agreed between the tenant and the landlord, assisted by Whitton & Laing where necessary, and the balance will be returned to you.
In the unlikely event that you cannot agree with your landlord over the amount withheld to cover dilapidations, the dispute will be dealt with by TDS an independent body approved by the government to adjudicate disputed deposits. By law all disputed deposits have to be dealt with in this way.
Under their rules, you as the tenant have 20 working days to tell us that you wish to dispute the proposed withholding, and we as the agent have 10 working days to resolve it. At this point, the disputed amount is transferred to TDS at which point they have control over it.
The Deposit Protection Service will copy the details of the dispute to the other parties, giving them 10 working days to send in their side of the story. TDS will aim to issue adjudication within 28 days of receiving all the necessary paperwork, and the disputed amount will be paid out in accordance with the adjudication within a further 10 working days.
We hope this gives you a guide to how the rental process works at Whitton & Laing, but if you have any remaining questions please get in touch with one of our experts.
Letting with knowhow...