We have listed below a series of “frequently asked questions” and their answers.
In the case of emergency we have listed below our trusted contractors and should you have for example a serious electrical fault or a burst pipe then please contact the appropriate contractor to stop the emergency for the safety of the householders and the property, bearing in mind there is normally a maximum of £100.00 which you can spend in this instance. In all cases please contact us or your Landlord at the earliest possible convenience.
In the case of a gas leak please call National Grid on 0800 111 999 immediately.
Q1. "WHAT ARE YOUR OPENING HOURS?"
Monday to Friday - 9.00am to 6.00pm
Saturday - 9.00am to 4.00pm
Q2. "HOW DO WE ENSURE A PROPERTY IS SECURED FOR US?"
Once a property has been selected, the Administration Fee must be paid. This amounts to £200.00 for one person, £300.00 for two people, £350.00 for three people, £400.00 for four people and an additional £50.00 per person thereafter, inclusive of VAT per property, and must be paid in cleared funds (cash, debit card, building society cheque or bankers draft).
Once this has been paid, the property will be secured for you, subject to the Landlord’s approval and satisfactory references. The fee is non refundable should you change your mind, however it is fully refundable in the event the Landlord/Agent rejects the Tenants or decides not to let the property. Refunds are made by cheque only.
Q3. "WILL REFERENCES BE REQUIRED?"
An application form needs to be completed for every Tenant over the age of 18 and anybody acting as Guarantor for the property.
We require a minimum of two professional references per applicant, for example current employer and previous Landlord. These references must be returned prior to the commencement of the tenancy.
Q4. "HOW DOES THE TENANCY AGREEMENT WORK?"
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement will be drawn up, normally for a twelve month period, with a break clause allowing both Tenant and Landlord the opportunity to give two rental months notice at any time after the four month stage. We will ask you to read the contract carefully and we are happy to answer any questions you may have. We would recommend you seek the advice of a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau should there be anything within the agreement you are uncertain about.
We will prepare and ask you to sign three copies of the agreement, one for yourself, one for your Landlord and one for ourselves. Once the agreement has also been countersigned by your Landlord, we will forward a copy on to you for you to keep somewhere safe.
Q5. "WILL AN INVENTORY BE TAKEN?"
An inventory will be taken, which will itemise the condition of the property including the furniture, fixtures and fittings which remain at the property. We will ask you to read through and sign this on your move in day.
You will then have a further ten days in which to check for accuracy. Should there be any discrepancies then simply write the adjustments on the "Inventory Amendment Sheet" and return this to our office. Should we not receive any adjustments within ten days, it will be considered accurate, and will form part of your Tenancy Agreement.
This inventory is re-checked at the end of your tenancy. It is an integral part of your Tenancy Agreement and therefore should be kept safe by yourself along with your Tenancy Agreement.
Q6. "HOW DO THE SERVICES AND UTILITIES GET CHANGED INTO MY NAME?"
You will be expected to contact the service companies for gas, electric, water rates, and Council Tax. These companies must be notified of the start date of the tenancy and the names of all the Tenants. Meter readings, where appropriate, will be taken just prior to your move and can be found on your inventory.
Certain areas of Harlow near the Town Centre have a Residents Parking Permit scheme. There is a charge for this, payable to Harlow Council. See Harlow Council Website.
Q7. "HOW DO I PAY THE FIRST MONTHS RENT?"
Your first months rent must be paid in cleared funds prior to moving into the property. This can be via building society cheque, bankers draft, debit card or credit card (2% charge applicable for credit card payments).
Q8. "DO I NEED TO PAY A DEPOSIT?"
The deposit must also be paid in cleared funds via building society cheque, bankers draft, debit card or credit card (2% charge applicable for credit card payments), prior to the commencement of the tenancy and is equal to one months rent. The deposit is held by ourselves as Stakeholder. It acts as security for the performance of the Tenant’s obligations under the Tenancy Agreement. It should not be used as the last months rent.
Q9. "WHO SHOULD I CONTACT DURING THE TENANCY; GUARDIAN OR MY LANDLORD?"
You will be advised whether your property is on a fully managed or non managed service. If the property is being fully managed then we would ask you to direct any queries regarding the property, rent or the Tenancy Agreement to ourselves.
Alternatively, should the property be non managed then we would ask you to continue to pay the rent to ourselves but direct any queries regarding property repairs and maintenance to your Landlord. You will be provided will the Landlord’s telephone numbers.
Q10. "CAN TENANTS INSURANCE BE PROVIDED?"
At Guardian Residential Lettings we recognise how difficult it can be for Tenants to arrange the correct insurance cover for their personal possessions. You can protect yourself with Homelet, which offer a policy specifically designed towards Tenants.
As a Tenant, your possessions can be at risk from fire, storm, water damage, and possibly theft throughout the duration of your Tenancy. You may therefore suffer loss or accidental damage to yours and the Landlord's belongings. Accidents do happen and as your Tenancy Agreement clearly states you are legally responsible, therefore this may be worth consideration. Ensuring your Landlord’s fixtures and fittings are looked after can also help to ensure the full return of your deposit.
Q11. "WHAT DAY IS THE RENT DUE AND WHAT IS THE PREFERRED METHOD OF PAYMENT?"
The date you move into your property will be your "rent due day" every month. The preferred method of payment for the majority of our Tenants is to set up a standing order, in which case we will provide you with our bank details although rent can also be paid via cheque, debit card or credit card (2% charge applicable for credit card payments). Please arrange for the standing order to leave your account three days prior to your rent due date to ensure we have received the money to pay your Landlord.
We are a completely "cash free" office therefore we cannot accept any cash rental payments.
Q12. WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MY RENT?
Should you ever encounter difficulties in paying your rent, please advise us as early as possible, informing us of when you expect the rent to be paid. This will allow us to contact your Landlord and keep them fully informed. Early contact gives the maximum chance of managing the situation to everyone's satisfaction, including yourselves. Ask for the rent payments department on 01279 635685.
Q13. "CAN I ALTER OR IMPROVE THE PROPERTY IN ANY WAY?"
If you wish to make any physical changes to the property, you must contact us so we can gain the Landlord's permission. This would include decorating, erection of shelves, hanging pictures on walls etc. Altering the property without the Landlord’s express written permission is a breach of your Tenancy Agreement and could affect the return of your deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Please be aware that using abrasive cleaners on enamel baths can cause the enamel to wear away, and you may be charged for this at the end of your tenancy. Please ensure that the bathroom cleaners you use are enamel friendly.
Should your property be non managed then these questions should be discussed with your Landlord directly and make efforts to gain written confirmation.
Q14. "WHAT DO I DO IF AN ACCIDENT OCCURS AT MY PROPERTY?"
Q15. "WHAT DO I DO IF THERE IS A REPAIR REQUIRED AT MY PROPERTY?"
Tenants are expected to carry out repairs that occur at their property if they are of a minor nature, which any home owner would normally do. Please see your tenants handy pack for helpful tips and advice.
Please do not attempt a job unless you feel you can complete it to a satisfactory standard. If this is not the case then we would recommend you arrange for a competent contractor to carry out the job, please refer to our list of Trusted Contractors found below. Please be aware that the cost of any jobs of this nature will be the responsibility of yourself, as the Tenant.
For all repairs that are of a more significant nature, we would ask you to contact us so we can get the repair carried out on behalf of the landlord. If your property is of a non managed status then we would ask you to contact your landlord instead.
An emergency is defined as something that could cause serious damage to the property or to somebody if not immediately rectified. Should your property require an emergency repair then we would ask you to follow the procedure as mentioned above for regular repairs. However, if the emergency occurs outside our office hours, then we would ask you to contact one of our Trusted Contractors, please see below.
A maximum of £100.00 can be spent in order to stop the emergency, our office or your landlord should then be contacted at the earliest possible moment.
Q16. "WHAT DO I DO IF I CAN NOT GET THE HEATING OR HOT WATER TO WORK?"
When operating the heating or hot water in your new home, you will normally find there are operating instructions for igniting the boiler on the inside cover. If these are followed clearly these instructions should be quite simple to follow. In addition to this, you must be aware of the location of your central heating thermostat and central heating controls.
When operating the system, it is important to ensure that the radiator valves are in the open position, the central heating thermostat is at the required temperature (normally 19-21 degrees) and that you have set the central heating controls to the appropriate setting so the system will work. The normal settings are either permanently on, 1 hour usage or "timed" separately for the heating and hot water. Be aware that the central heating will not work if the central heating controls are in the off position or the timer is set inappropriately.
If you are unable to work the system you will need to follow the instructions provided on the boiler and the central heating controls carefully and thoroughly. In the event that you are not familiar with these controls, we would advise you to seek the assistance of family and friends. If you truly believe the system is not working then within the rules of the Tenancy Agreement, the Landlord would need to pay for the appropriate repair. On this basis you would need to call ourselves if your property is fully managed or if your property is non managed then you would need to speak to your Landlord directly. If a tradesman is called out to assist you and a repair is required then the Landlord will pay the cost of this. However, if the boiler is in working order but the controls have not been used correctly then the cost of the call out for the heating engineer would be your responsibility.
Q17. "HOW DO I WORK MY ECONOMY 7 STORAGE RADIATORS?"
Economy 7 storage radiators use cheap night time electricity. The energy is stored over night and then is let out during the day time via the radiator.The radiator has to be switched on, normally via a switch on the wall, which is wired to the radiator. Additionally, there are two controls, input and boost/output.
The input dial dictates the level of energy that is stored overnight. The higher the number, the higher the amount of electricity stored during the night. The boost/output dial dictates the outlet of energy or heat during the day. If this dial is set to a low setting, for example one or two, then the energy is let out slowly during the morning and afternoon, and continues throughout the evening. If the boost/output dial is set to a high setting, it will let out a higher amount of energy and heat during the morning, but will run out of heat for later on in the day.
Most homes require some experimentation or practice to find the appropriate balance for that particular property in conjunction with the requirements of the householder/s. Probably the best settings to start off with are high input and low boost/output, and adjust them from there.
Q18. "WILL PROPERTY INSPECTIONS BE CARRIED OUT?"
Property inspections will be carried out throughout the duration of the tenancy at ten to twelve weekly intervals. Should your property be on a non managed basis then these inspections should be carried out by your Landlord. This is a time for us to check the property and it’s condition.
Property inspections are carried out on different days throughout the week. We will write to you at least one week in advance, advising you of the appointment day. Should we hold a key to the property, we will enter with the use of the key unless you advise us that you wish to be in attendance. If we do not hold a key and you are not present for the property inspection to allow us access to the property, a "missed property inspection" fee of £10.00 will apply.
Q19. "WHAT DO I DO IF I EXPERIENCE CONDENSATION AT MY PROPERTY?"
Many Tenants report dampness to us which turns out to be condensation. This happens when warm air comes into contact with a cold surface and moisture in the air turns into droplets of water. If your home has condensation, you will find a blackish mould forming on walls, in the corner of rooms, around windows and behind wardrobes.
You can reduce the risk of condensation by doing the following:
• Open a window when you are cooking and keep lids on saucepans.
• Leave a bathroom window open after a bath to clear the steam.
• Do not none air vents or air bricks.
• Open windows in all your rooms for a few minutes each day to let some fresh air circulate.
• Keep the bathroom door shut when you have a bath or shower.
• Leave some background heating on all day in cold weather.
• Wipe down the affected areas with a mild soap solution.
Q20. "WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I RECEIVE ANY POST BELONGING TO THE LANDLORD?"
For any post received that does not belong to yourselves, follow one of the two procedures listed below:
1. Post belonging to the Landlord. The Landlord’s name and address can be found on the Tenancy Agreement. Referring to the Landlord’s name and address on your copy, simply cross out the old address, handwrite on your Landlords new address and place the post back in the post box.
2. Post that does not belong to your Landlord. It is quite common that post could be received belonging to a Tenant that has previously occupied the property. Simply cross out the old address and hand write "return to sender" or “RTS” on the envelope. The only exception to this rule is for utility bills that are received, in which case these can be brought into our office.
Q21. "WHAT DO I DO IF I NEED TO LEAVE THE PROPERTY BEFORE THE MINIMUM SIX MONTH TERM IS OVER?"
You are committed to the Tenancy Agreement for a minimum term of six months. However should you have an unforeseen change in your circumstances and need to leave early then firstly you would need to confirm your intentions in writing, your official end of tenancy date would be at the six month stage. Next we would confer with your Landlord to see if they want to re-let the property. If this is the case then we would place the property back on the market and should we find a Tenant who wishes to move into the property before your end of tenancy date, then you would be released from your contractual obligations early, only when your Landlord agrees and the new Tenant has paid their first months rent and deposit in cleared funds. Should the Landlord not wish us to re-let the property then it would be down to the Landlord’s discretion as to whether you could be released early or not.
Q22. "HOW DO I END MY TENANCY?"
To end the tenancy you must give the appropriate amount of notice, normally two rental months after completion of the initial 4 months of the tenancy. The notice must be in the form of a letter, and commences from the next rent day that the letter is received by ourselves. This will determine a final day for the tenancy. Rent must be paid in full up to and including this final day and the deposit cannot be used as rent throughout this final period.
It is your responsibility to ensure that all the services and utility companies are advised of your final tenancy date and relevant meter readings, in order for them to calculate final payment due on your account.
Q23. "HOW DOES MY DEPOSIT GET RETURNED TO ME? WHAT IS THE TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME?"
We will arrange to meet you at the property on the final day of your tenancy to carry out the Final Inspection. At this time the inventory which was taken at the commencement of the tenancy plus any amendments you may have made, will be re-checked.
The Final Inspection needs to be at a time when all your belongings have been removed and the property has been cleaned. Normally yourselves, ourselves and your Landlord would all be in attendance. Allowances will be made for normal wear and tear, however should there be any discrepancies over and above this, these can be discussed between all parties immediately. This may involve a deduction from your deposit.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
If there are no discrepancies then we will endeavour to return your deposit to you swiftly, normally within five working days. This will always be in the form of a cheque. We are members of The Dispute Service - in accordance with the Housing Act, all Agents and Landlords who hold their tenant's deposit must be a member of a deposit protection scheme by Law. Shortly after you move into your rented property we will send you a certificate which confirms that your deposit is protected, and gives your individual membership code. In the majority of cases The Dispute Service do not need to be involved at the end of your tenancy, as we much prefer to negotiate any deductions from the deposit to the satisfaction of both the Landlord and yourself, ensuring the swiftest possible return of your money.
List of Trusted Contractors
Roy's Appliance Maintenance: 07973 863198
Superclean/Finesse: 07748 117382
Superclean/ Finesse: 07748 117382
BCH Electrical: 07710 355982
Broadoak: 07525 920115
All Trades: 07717 455253
Sureguard: 01279 443827
Five Star Heating: 07831 452835
D S Lloyd: 01279 426377 / 07860 807253 (out of hours)
Carpets and Wood Direct: 07811 397567
Rightchoice: 07947 528628