Guide to Letting Property in Central London - Part IV: The Lettings Game from the Tenant`s POV

Date Published 25 July 2016

At John Wilcox we have an extensive understanding of the lettings market in Kensington and Chelsea, Holland Park and Notting Hill, and we have put together a five-part guide to the process which we hope will give you a good idea of the how to get the most from your property.

Part IV: The Lettings Game from the Tenant's POV

The Lettings Game for the Central London tenant can seem one fraught with tension – after all, this rental market is renowned as one of the fastest paced in the world. Securing a tenancy in this market requires steadfast focus and an iron cast constitution for logic above impulse – for which we've created a series of guides to seamlessly direct you through the process.

In this, Part IV of our guide on Lettings, we discuss the issue of finding the ‘right' property and cover the practicalities of deposit protection, inventory and check-in, and end-of-tenancy dilapidations negotiations.

The balance between the wish list, your budget and market availability

You have three key questions that will define the property that will ultimately best fulfil all of your needs – both practically and financially.

– What is on your ‘nice-to-have' wish list; in what order are they? And are you willing to compromise?

– What is your budget?

– What properties are available? And how frequently do properties within your desired area turnover?

Whilst Central London serves as the epitome of this conundrum, this balance may apply to any property, in any village, town or city within the UK – quite simply there are sometimes concessions that must be made between what you'd like from a property, what your budget accommodates and what is available in the market at any given time.

What's more, even within what is a premium property market, where budget may be less of an issue than in other markets, there still exists a definitive balance between what's available, and the property you would ideally find yourself in. Any good lettings agent will be able to provide you with insight as to whether your expectations are achievable, and whether it's worth compromising today, or holding out for a property that emerges from a fluid market tomorrow.

Deposit protection: A non-negotiable

Today, deposit protection schemes are legally required for almost all properties that rent for less than £100,000 per annum, and your deposit must be placed in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme by your landlord or estate agent.

You'll receive your deposit back in full within 30 days of your tenancy ending if:

– You've met the terms of your tenancy agreement;

– You haven't damaged the property;

– You've paid your rent and bills.

Reliable inventory and check-in: Getting off to a good start

When moving into a property you will be provided with an inventory and Check-in Report where items within the property are listed together with any flaws and existing damage, such as a loose door handle or scuff marks on a wall. Ideally, the Check-in Report should be prepared by an independent expert.

You should also expect the following to be handled by the Managing Agent at the beginning of your tenancy:

– Meter readings taken;

– Utilities transferred into your name;

– The receiving of a welcome pack.

Prompt and reasonable dilapidations negotiations at the end of the tenancy: For a stress-free, seamless move out day

At the end of your tenancy, a Check-out Report is prepared against the original inventory and Check-in report – usually by the same independent expert who ‘checked you in'. The purpose of this Report is to identify that everything that was there at the beginning of the tenancy is still in place and also to log any damage to the property or the décor. This Check-out Report forms the basis of any dilapidation claim your Landlord may have against you which would be paid out of your Deposit. Dilapidation issues are defined as problems that are caused by a tenant that results in the need for 'reinstatement, repair, redecoration and statutory covenants'. It is normally the case that ‘fair wear and tear' is taken into consideration.

Your Deposit is completely protected against unreasonable claims your Landlord may make over dilapidations. It will have been placed in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme and neither you nor the Landlord can take it without the other's agreement. If you cannot come to an agreement with your Landlord over dilapidations, you can refer it to the deposit scheme under which it was registered and they will settle the matter from the information both you and the Landlord provide them.

As a starting point you may protect yourself from unforeseen (and unfair) demands by ensuring that the property you lease is defined as in a good state of repair.

Yet should you be faced with the need for negotiations you should commission an independent Dilapidations Liability Assessment (DLA) (ideally ahead of the tenancy end) to provide you with an impartial overview of any remedial work that may be required.

Should you be unable to undertake, or arrange the undertaking, of the work yourself, then a financial solution should be negotiated in good time and on reasonable terms. What's deemed as promptly and reasonable, however, is subjective; and the laws, rules and regulations that surround dilapidations are complex; for fuller insight, we include a link you may find helpful: dilapidations guide from TFT, or simply call our team to discuss.

John Wilcox is a renowned lettings agent covering Prime Central London, including Kensington and Chelsea, Holland Park, Notting Hill, Mayfair and Belgravia. Should you find yourself in the market for a property in these areas, please do call the team on 020 7602 2352.

Next time: In our fifth and final instalment of our Lettings Guide to the Prime Central London Market, we'll be discussing Property Management.