Is this normal when renting?

(49 Posts)
Mendi Mon 15-Jul-13 16:06:41

Am renting for first time and the agent has called up insisting I have to give them a second address - the address of my parents or a close friend - for after the tenancy ends. My work address (law firm!) was not acceptable.
I kept asking why this is necessary, and all she could say was 'it's to do with the TDS' but not why. I said well presumably you return the money to my bank account, which you have details of, and you know where I work, so I'm not clear why you need a third party's address. In particular I'n uncomfortable about giving my parents' address as they hate all kinds of junk mail and calls and they're in their 70s now. Am not sure why I should give any of my friends' addresses either!

Under intense pressure in the end I did give my parents' address but now am worried about what it will be used for. Any clues?

Next, I asked if I could pay rent on 4th of the month but am moving on 14th. I assumed I would pay to end of month up front and thereafter on the 4th. Instead she says I have to pay for a month plus 10 days up front (plus the deposit). I am already struggling to get a month's rent and the deposit (a further 6 weeks' rent) together. I asked why I can't just pay pro rata and she kept repeating "it's standard we have to take a month up front". So I asked if she could ask the landlord if he would be willing to take pro rata to month end instead, but was left feeling this was a ridiculous request. Is it? I am still going to have to pay the rent on the 4th under the contract, I can't really see the problem!

I paid this agent £500 "holding deposit" 2 weeks ago to get a tenancy agreement out of them and 2 weeks later they've only just started thinking about it. Am meant to be moving in 4 weeks and it's getting to be that unless I agree with everything the agent says, that might not happen!

Please console me and tell me this is all normal, or that it isn't and IANBU.

BonaDrag Mon 15-Jul-13 16:07:55

It's normal and the details of the deposit protection scheme will be forwarded there when you leave.

Mendi Mon 15-Jul-13 17:00:54

Ok thanks. What about this rent up front thing? Am I on a hiding to nothing asking to just pay up front the part of the month I'm actually using and thereafter one month in advance?

ThemeNights Mon 15-Jul-13 17:48:01

The rent thing is normal too. It's a killer to find the rent and the deposit all up front but it is normal.

Jan49 Mon 15-Jul-13 17:58:01

It all sounds normal to me.

I had to give a next of kin address which is awkward as the only next of kin worth contacting lives with me. I think they want to ensure they have a way of contacting you when you move out and also if anything happens such as you disappear or are in an accident. Perhaps you could have given another relative or a friend. I don't think it would result in junk mail.

I think paying monthly is normal, from whatever date the contract starts.
If the contract starts on 4th then you'll need to pay monthly from 4th even if you move in on 14th. If you want to pay from the date you move in, you'd need the landlord to agree to start the contract from 14th but you'd still need to pay for a month.

I had to pay one month's deposit. I queried a few things in the tenancy contract and they said they weren't allowed to change anything at all in it and it couldn't go ahead except exactly as worded.

specialsubject Mon 15-Jul-13 17:59:43

all normal, sorry. Although normally the rental period begins on the day you get the keys and that will be your payment date. You have to pay it anyway so what's the difference?

the usual analogy is that you pay for your baked beans before eating them, and it is the same for your accommodation. They also need a real address for you to contact you over any deposit disputes after you leave, and to have some chance of contacting you if you wreck the place and run.

landlord is letting you use a property worth tens of thousands at least, hence the precautions.

90% of all tenants are decent people who give no problems. same with landlords. But both sides need to take care in case the other is one of the 10%.

Mendi Mon 15-Jul-13 18:51:45

Yes I'm not objecting to paying the rent up front, that is obviously normal. What I would like to do is pay on the day I am paid, which means either paying a massive whack up front to cover 6 weeks rent up front PLUS a deposit equal to another six weeks' rent, or pay just the 2 weeks pro rate rent for the month I am moving in in, then paying the next WHOLE month's rent in advance at the start of the next month.

As it is I am going to have to borrow ££££ just to move into this house. No problem paying rent in advance, it's the extent of the period of advance that I find unreasonable. Also totally unreasonable to say there will be no negotiation of contract terms and ripe for a claim under the Unfair Contract Terms Act IMHO.

The whole renting thing stinks and I haven't even moved in yet!

specialsubject Mon 15-Jul-13 22:15:51

if you don't like this contract, don't sign and find another flat.

Mendi Mon 15-Jul-13 22:33:51

Well that's sort of the point, isn't it? The contract is pretty much the same contract everywhere. It's a standard precedent. But saying to your contracting party "no negotiation of any terms is acceptable" means that one party has 100% of the bargaining power and the other has none. That is prima facie unfair under the Unfair Contract Terms Act.

If I have to sign a contract to get somewhere to live and am forced to sign up to a clause which says I am liable for the costs of de-infestation plus all associated remedial works, then move in and find a massive rodent problem, clearly it's totally unfair that I should have to pay for that, even though the contract says I do.

That is why we have laws such as UCTA. I'm just surprised lettings agents aren't aware of how unreasonable some of their "negotiating' tactics are. So far on this one I've had a completely made-up "other offer", which despite being a few hundred pounds a month more than my offer AND for an earlier commencement date, was mysteriously overlooked by the landlord, who took my offer instead.

Then the agent came back again telling me I really had to raise the offer (which had been accepted at that point!) by another £100 because the landlord might change his mind. I didn't. The landlord didn't. Yet.

All this is from an agent at Hamptons/Knight Frank/Strutt and Parker end of the market.

I used to feel sorry for estate agents for all the bad rap they get, before I had to embark onto the rentals market myself. No more.

all normal.

I've never heard of anyone doing it other than paying monthly in advance for the month commencing move date. otherwise it is messy at both ends of the contract - which with a standard 6 month contract is a lot of mess in a little time.

Jaynebxl Tue 16-Jul-13 06:48:51

If you want to move in on 14th why don't you just make that your regular rent pay date and not pay the extra ten days? So you pay on 14th of each month.

WeleaseWodger Tue 16-Jul-13 08:18:18

One party can't be forced to negotiate and they clearly said they do not on contract terms. Frankly I don't know anyone who does. You can't be forced to accept their conditions, you can walk away. But you can't force them into changing conditions they do not wish to change.

I don't understand the fumigation thing. If you cause an infestation, you pay. If you moved in and found the flat infested, you clearly didn't cause it, therefore LL responsibility. If there is a question as to who caused it, there needs to be proof, or most of the time the LL will pay as default.

It doesn't sound like you understand what the contract actually says, to e honest, as you seem to be misinterpreting it.

Llareggub Tue 16-Jul-13 08:20:07

I didn't have to do that. I just provided an email address. Having said that, the landlord knows where my parents live. The agents don't!

Llareggub Tue 16-Jul-13 08:22:17

I am renting after years of owning property. What I have learned is that the letting agent doesn't see me as the customer. The landlord is the customer. It's crap for renters.

My agent even told me I couldn't negotiate a 12 month lease. The landlord was furious so I negotiate with him.

Mendi Tue 16-Jul-13 08:35:08

Thanks weleaselodgers, I do understand the contract, I'm a litigation lawyer. I've also had it looked over by my boss, who is the senior property litigation partner in my firm. He agrees. The point is, it's open to contracting parties to share liabilities however they want. This contract clearly states that any infestation during the tenancy is my liability. Causation doesn't come into it. And it's non-negotiable. I've seen the same clause in 3 other leases. It's not as easy as "take it or leave it".

Mendi Tue 16-Jul-13 08:37:05

Sorry, should have been WeleaseWodgers

RenterNomad Tue 16-Jul-13 21:12:09

Money up front is normal, but not paying for such an extended period, at least IME. Plenty of people have payment dates not in line with payday, so better to focus on that, not the pro rata business, which agents will never accept, as that first month is their fee from the LL, so of course they want it ASAP. Meanwhile, the LL might be quite excited to think of actually getting some money in that 1st month, so may be digging their heels in, in their turn.

With your having paid the dreaded "holding deposit," you're unfortunately in a very weak position, but if you don't trust them (and it's certainly already rather antagonistic), do keep looking, and maybe you will find something which will make £500 seem an affordable loss? Asking prices do fluctuate over the year. If you use the Mozilla Firefox browser, therebis an add-on called Property Bee, wjich shows the history of entries on Rightmove/Prime Location ( first liayed, asking rent changes, etc.) Lots of tweaking indicates there is more possibility to negotiate.

Four weeks is actually loads of time in the rental market, so there is time for even this situation to come right.

WeleaseWodger Tue 16-Jul-13 21:33:04

Really? You had a senior property litigation lawyer look at a standard rental agreement and now you're asking on the bet if this standard? He should've been able to tell you this, surely.

I am not a lawyer. But I do know that a contract doesn't over ride actual law. For example, standard contracts usually have a clause about allowing access to LL for viewings at end of tenancy. There is no actual law to enforce that contract clause and a tenant who signs that contract still isn't legally obligated to allow anyone in. In fact, in order to obtain emergency repair access, a landlord needs to first obtain a court order. He won't get one for viewings.

Misty9 Tue 16-Jul-13 22:00:04

We've rented many many times in different parts of the country (currently buying, yippee!!!) and have never had to give an alternative address, for any purpose.

As for rent, it's rarely in line with payday so just a bit of careful budgeting required. Upfront costs are horrendous yes, especially as you generally can't rely on previous deposit to cover any of it for a while at least.

And yes, the contracts generally stink. But when I've queried really odd clauses, or things such as we must get the property cleaned by a recommended contractor at the end, most agents have allowed us to cross through what we don't agree with on the contract, and initial.

And I know you have the right to walk away, yada yada, but it's not exactly a level playing field when properties are generally only on with one agent. Having said that, I will never rent through this agent again owing to their horrendously inflated and unjustified fees.

Welcome to the uk rental market get out as soon as you can!

ananikifo Tue 16-Jul-13 22:06:21

The private rental market is awful and unfair. My landlords have been reasonable but letting agents have a terrible reputation in general and conditions aren't what I'd call fair.

Mendi Tue 16-Jul-13 22:12:01

Wow. Just wow, WeleaseWodgersz You are so wrong on the law that the only reason I'm even responding to your message is to correct you on a public forum so that hopefully no non-lawyers take a word of your post as remotely based in actual law.

I'm happy to go with my own legal opinion, but the fact that it's backed by the Head of Property Litigation at an international City law firm is also good support for my interpretation of the law. Interestingly, he advised me not to enter into this lease.

So I'm going to keep looking, while trying to get the "agents" to actually perform their duties as agent to the landlord and at least pass on my queries to him.

queenofthepirates Tue 16-Jul-13 22:12:13

One good reason to have all tenants paying on a particular day is to make it easier for landlords to check their tenants have paid. It's much harder when you have multiple tenants paying at different time of the month.

ThisIsMummyPig Tue 16-Jul-13 22:21:49

I don't understand. You ask if something is normal, you are told that it is. You have already asked someone you respect (I hope) for advice, but then you slag off unqualified people who try and help you.

I hope I never need you to fight my corner.

Mendi Tue 16-Jul-13 22:35:27

Thisismummypig what I asked was whether it was normal to be told you have to pay more than a month in advance if you don't want to pay every month on the date in the month you first moved in. As opposed to just paying pro rata for the month you moved in and thereafter a month in advance.

I was told that was normal and therefore went back to the lettings agent and said I would pay in the middle of the month, every month.

However, when someone who is not legally qualified states as a point of law something which is either completely wrong or even just partly wrong, I do think it is important to correct it. I have not "slagged off" anyone. Merely pointed out the deficiencies in what is stated as "actual law".

RenterNomad Tue 16-Jul-13 23:12:48

I believe the Office of Fair Trading has called for tenancy costs ("referencing fee", etc.) to be published up front, but it would do well to also add a demand for contract terms to be published up front, before the invidious "non-refundable deposit" is taken!

WeleaseWodger Tue 16-Jul-13 23:18:50

But Mendi, you didn't correct me. You just stated I was wrong, which is really just an opinion. It really would be helpful if you could specify what I got wrong, so I (and others) can further google it.

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 06:35:21

I am not a lawyer. But I do know that a contract doesn't over ride actual law. For example, standard contracts usually have a clause about allowing access to LL for viewings at end of tenancy. There is no actual law to enforce that contract clause and a tenant who signs that contract still isn't legally obligated to allow anyone in. In fact, in order to obtain emergency repair access, a landlord needs to first obtain a court order. He won't get one for viewings.

First, contractual right is "actual law". So, if you enter a contract agreeing to something, the starting point is that that thing is fine (subject to a few exceptions such as exclusions under the Unfair Contract Terms Act).

I think what you may have been trying to say is that even if a tenant has signed a contract with a clause allowing the landlord access for viewings, the landlord would not be able to enforce that right as it would effectively be "overruled" by the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment of the property.

The tenant does have a right to quiet enjoyment, but there is no common law rule or statute which says the right to quiet enjoyment absolutely overrules a contractual right to access. The tenant's right is to enjoy the property unharassed. If the landlord accesses the property on reasonable notice at reasonable times of the day for a purpose the tenant has contractually consented to, that is fine. Clauses permitting access for viewings usually say on 24 hours' notice anyway, as do clauses permitting access for repairs. Also, clauses permitting access for viewings tend to be limited to the last month or two of the tenancy, which also balances the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment.

Next the question is: so what if you do object and the landlord can't access for viewings as per his contractual right? His damages will be the measure of the loss he has sustained as a result of you not allowing the viewing as you are contractually bound to do. So if he had a potential tenant willing to say "I would definitely have rented that property for one year at £2k a month, but as I couldn't see it, i rented another", then the damages would be around £24k.

Conversely, if you refuse access but the landlord does access anyway, then you would be likely to lose any claim against the landlord because you had already consented to reasonable access for viewings in the contract. However, even if you did win, the measure of damages would be your loss as a result of the viewing, which would be... What, exactly? If you sustain no loss, then you aren't entitled to any damages. So if the property is left as it was before the viewing, you have no real claim.

In practice of course it's unlikely people will make claims over something like this. It's better to cooperate with the landlord and come to some agreement about viewings. But if you really hate your landlord and decide to dig your heels in, you could be in breach of contract (if your contract contains a clause permitting access for viewings) and that is more likely to cause the landlord a recoverable loss than his accessing the property is likely to cause you a recoverable loss.

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 07:11:21

Mendi, you stated up thread you are a litigation lawyer, now you say you are not a lawyer.

Either way you come across as rude to people just trying to help.

"Wow. Just wow." comes across as rude.

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 07:53:41

The bold part of my post is me quoting WeleaseWodger before explaining why her/his comments were incorrect.

cottoncandy Wed 17-Jul-13 08:03:54

I would be surprised if a property litigator at a big City firm knew much about private residential short term leases. It's not really the sort of thing they would normally deal with.

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 08:10:43

Property law is property law. And yes, property litigators at City law firms act in residential disputes. Most recently, this one has done a boundary dispute for a famous screenwriter, and a landlord tenant dispute in a multimillion pound development in Mayfair (acting for developer).

The law is the same regardless of the value of the property involved.

WeleaseWodger Wed 17-Jul-13 08:10:51

Mandi was quoting me earlier saying I am not a lawyer/solicitor.

I think perhaps I'm not using correct terminology when I write a contract doesn't over rule law. A contract isn't law in that a police officer will not enforce it - you have to go to court to try to enforce it, and only court of law can make the other party adhere to it.

So to continue the analogy, you don't have to let your LL in, and the LL cannot force entry. The LL cannot call the police to make you open the door and allow them in, but a tenant can call police if LL enters without tenants' permission. Because that's not legal.

As to your example that a tenant would be liable for 24k damages for not allowing viewings - I don't know if you were trying to oversimplify for me , but that's just plain ridiculous. At most a tenant would be liable for the period between moving out and when LL got a new tenant. Month, maybe two max and I imagine the LL would have quite a difficult time proving this in court in order to receive even that much compensation.

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 08:24:29

You are correct WeleaseWodger that the LL would have to try to mitigate his losses by re-letting and I most cases this would probably mean the damages would be limited to the vacant period. However, you could have a scenario where the the tenant who was "lost" as a result of the refusal of access was willing to pay say £2k a month but the tenant the LL actually managed to let to would only pay £1.5k a month . So then the damages would be the difference over the life of the tenancy, possibly subject to some discount to reflect the possibility of the tenancy ending early. All this is at the discretion of the court, subject to evidence. The simple point is: as a tenant if you refuse access which you're under a contractual obligation to allow, you expose yourself to liability for damages which could easily run to the thousands. Plus if you lose in court you are liable to pay the LL's legal costs of suing you, as well as your legal costs. Usually costs run to several thousands and for a fully contested case going to trial, tens of thousands (each) as a low estimate,

Who wants to be exposed to that?

On the enforcement side, yes the police will not get involved in civil matters such as contract disputes. And it is correct to say that if a tenant digs their heels in, the LL would have to go to court. In light of the financial consequences of putting a LL to that course of action, unless you don't mind being made bankrupt, I wouldn't recommend it.

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 08:35:40

Apologies, bold doesn't show up on the app.

I think your search for a suitable property / contract will be a long one.

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 08:40:59

Yes, that is the point of this thread: it's ridiculous that tenants are in the position in this country where LLs' terms are completely non-negotiable (and IME, largely very similar so it's not easy to find one without unreasonable terms), but for the tenant EVERYTHING has to be negotiable - price, start date, break date, etc.

WeleaseWodger Wed 17-Jul-13 08:52:40

No, it's really not that hard. Most of us don't go around trying to renegotiate standard tenancy agreements, and you will find most LLs are going to give you a pass because you're sounding like hard work before you've even moved in.

Llareggub Wed 17-Jul-13 08:57:26

Which is the point I made earlier down the thread. Renters are not regarded as the customer.

Mutley77 Wed 17-Jul-13 08:59:08

Yes you do have to pay a month in advance - always IME. At the very least you would need to pay a month in advance on 14th then possibly re jig the dates after that.

The other address (for a next of kin) I would imagine is a legal requirement as well - I think someone above mentioned they would need it if something happens to you in the property. Also, they may need to send you letters about the deposit if they are planning not to re-pay it all - or confirm that they are re-paying it all.

Chubfuddler Wed 17-Jul-13 09:04:46


Just, wow. OP you sound like a nightmare.

If this mythical rodent infestation should appear, and if your ll tries to make you pay for it, and if it actually predates the tenancy, you can challenge it. That's the point of litigation over contract disputes. Which you should know, if you are a litigation lawyer.

Everything else you have described re deposit/rent etc is completely normal.

Mutley77 Wed 17-Jul-13 09:06:45

PS - just to make you feel better we are renting in Australia and a standard clause here is that the landlord can raise the agreed rental payment at any time during the tenancy if the market value of the rent increases in that period. As tenants we are tied to the contract for the entire period of the tenancy and therefore if we could not afford the rent that they decide on we would be charged significant penalties for breaking the contract.

We did manage to get that clause removed as we have a really nice estate agent, but that is certainly unfair IMO.

We are landlords in the UK and I know our tenants weren't happy with how the agents managed the process at the start. I have some sympathy but at the end of the day demand for good rentals is high and that's the way it is. I feel justified in saying that as I am also facing that issue in reverse as a tenant !

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 09:46:05

Chubfuddler I haven't actually raised the infestation clause as an issue with the landlord or agent, nor any of the other weird clauses. I've limited myself to asking if it would be possible to re-jig the rent payment date (answer: not unless you pay 5 weeks' rent upfront) and for details of the energy suppliers (as the contract says I have to notify them of my tenancy "immediately on executing his tenancy agreement"), which the agent seems to think it is not possible to provide.

The general consensus on here seems to be that you should just sin whatever tenancy agreement you're offered and not ask any questions about it. Seeing the problems I deal with every day in my work, it's very hard to do that in my personal life.

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 09:46:26

sign not sin

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 09:49:21

And Chubfuddler, being a litigator I want to avoid even having to deal with any disputes through litigation. So while yes, if the LL decided to claim against me under, for example, the infestation clause, I could defend the claim, I really would rather not have to incur those costs. Bottom line should be: if the tenant causes a problem, tenant pays; anything else, LL pays. Not some shitty clause worded to make ANY infestation the tenant's responsibility.

WeleaseWodger Wed 17-Jul-13 09:53:10

You've been posting about negotiations in the contract. That's not the same as asking questions.

Mendi Wed 17-Jul-13 10:17:37

I'm not sure I follow you there, WeleaseWodger. Before signing a contract, if there are any points you're not clear about or need more information on, you ask the appropriate questions. Whether or not you then try to change the relevant clause, it's all general pre-contract stuff which can generally be termed "negotiation".

PerilsAsinger Wed 17-Jul-13 10:40:18

Mendi - you need to know how to play the game.
When asked for an address all you do is say 101 Kensington Palace (or such like). This is just a box tick.

I never give true addresses. 1) It's such an idiotic thing to ask for. Addresses cannot be checked and if I were a criminal, of course I would give a false address.

PerilsAsinger Wed 17-Jul-13 10:42:20

Mendi - I've just read about your request to pay rent on the 4th. Perfectly reasonable and that is actually what we do (pay in advance on a day that suits us and is actually to the benefit of the landlord).

WeleaseWodger Wed 17-Jul-13 10:50:43

Perils, the address is requested by the deposit protection scheme, not the LL or agents so if there is a dispute, that is where the deposit scheme company will send you the relevant correspondence once you've moved out.

PerilsAsinger Wed 17-Jul-13 10:56:55

Welease - yes, but of course addresses can be changed. People are mobile and it's not against the law to change addresses regularly.

This is one of these nonsensical issues that raises it's head every now and again.

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