Helping Tenants

Helping Tenants Edinburgh: It's often said that home is where the heart is. So why do so many letting agents seem so heartless? We understand that a rented property is so much more than a house or a flat; it's your home. As a tenant, you should feel comfortable, safe and appreciated.

Every one of our Edinburgh properties has a designated property manager who knows the property, the tenant and the landlord. Good communication and long-term relationships are crucial to the smooth running of our business so we're open and honest in helping our tenants understand their rights and responsibilities throughout the letting process.

Happy tenants make our working day a pleasant one and long-lasting tenancies make for happy landlords and a happy letting agency. Our years of experience in the Edinburgh lettings market have taught us that communication and responsiveness are key. While it is important for us to be proactive in things like property inspections and upgrading works, it's when our tenants need us that defines whether we succeed or fail as a letting agent.

Tenants FAQs

First of all, don’t panic. All offers for a rental property will be put to the landlord to make a decision on which offer to proceed with. For an offer we need details on who will be living in the property, your employment details and address history. If you are in a competitive situation for a flat then it can also help to offer slightly more for the monthly rent. This can help make your application stand out for a landlord, all other things being equal.

We recommend prospective tenancies for consideration to our landlords where the applicants can provide three years’ worth of address history and employment details. We would look for applicants to be permanently employed and meet the affordability criteria of their gross monthly income (combined if more than one tenant) meets at least 2.5 times the monthly rent. If this is not the case then the landlord may still proceed but expect to provide a UK based guarantor or pay a larger deposit of up to twice the monthly rent.

No. None, whatsoever.

We normally ask for a security deposit equivalent to 1 month’s rent + £100 unless it is agreed with the landlord to hold a larger amount (to be negotiated at the offer stage). This security deposit will be held by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). Once we have your application and the landlord is happy for us to proceed with referencing you, we request a holding deposit from you (normally the full deposit amount) in order for us to remove the property from the market and commence credit checking and referencing.

Yes, you will be referenced. We require to conduct a credit check and normally request an employer and previous landlord reference (where one or both of these is not possible, if you were a homeowner or are self-employed, we may request references from other parties). We use Lettingref to conduct our credit checks.

Since 2012, tenants’ deposits are no longer held by a letting agent or landlord but in a government approved third party scheme. Any deductions that might be made for cleaning, damages, excessive wear and tear or rent arrears need to be applied for from the scheme so that the tenant has the opportunity to argue their case if they disagree.

An inventory is an essential document which provides a written and photographic record of the property and it’s contents at the beginning of the tenancy. Our inventory contains details in full on all fixtures, fittings and contents of the property and it will be checked after the tenancy expires. You will have 7 days to check, make any comments and sign the inventory after you move into the property.

At Umega Lettings all of our tenancies are Short Assured Tenancies (with the odd Corporate Let now and again). A Short Assured Tenancy is the most common type of tenancy agreement in the private sector.  As is set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988, a formal notice (AT5) is required to be served before the tenancy commences, explaining that the tenancy is to be a Short Assured Tenancy. All of our tenancy paperwork has been written and is regularly updated by on of Scotland’s leading residential letting solicitors and is available to be viewed by prospective tenants prior to committing to a tenancy.

In its simplest form, a tenancy agreement is a legal binding contract between the landlord(s) and tenant(s), outlining all of the contractual obligations of both parties. In general, a tenancy agreement should include the following;

  • state the length of time the property is being let for
  • state the amount of rent due and when it should be paid
  • tell you if the rent can be increased and how it will be calculated
  • say who is responsible for decoration and repairs to the inside and outside of the property
  • state if there are any conditions or restrictions to the use of the property
  • state that you have the right to have a market rent determined by the private rented housing panel.

In addition to these rights, you also have responsibilities. If you don’t fulfill these you may face eviction.

If there is more than one tenant named on the tenancy agreement then those tenants are ‘joint and severally’ liable during the course of a tenancy agreement. This means that all of the tenants (and guarantors!) on the tenancy agreement are jointly responsible for all tenancy liabilities including rent or any breach of tenancy. For example, if one tenant is acting antisocially, all tenants are deemed to be acting antisocially. Similarly, if a tenant does not pay rent then all tenants (and guarantors) either individually or as a group can face debt recovery proceedings. If a tenant wishes to serve notice to end your tenancy you need to get the permission of the other joint tenants before doing so.

The length of a tenancy depends on the preference of the landlord or tenant, however, a Short Assured Tenancy must be for a minimum of six months and the majority of our tenancies are six months initially (student properties tend to be 11-12 months to keep them in line with the academic year). Unless 2 months’ notice is served by either party, the tenancy will simply roll on a monthly basis after the original period.

It is the tenant’s responsibility to set up a standing order to pay the monthly rent. You should set this up in plenty of time before your 2nd month’s rent is due (you will have had to pay your first month’s rent before moving in). You should set your standing order up to pay us a couple of days before your monthly rent due date in order that the rent clears in our account on, or before, the rent due date. If you set up your standing order on the rent due date, your rent could be late every month and you may receive penalty charges.

Yes!

Monthly Rent – Please set up the monthly payment so that it clears by the same date of the month that the tenancy agreement commences (you may need to set up your payment to come out of your account 2-3 days before your rent due to ensure it clears into our account on time).

Contents Insurance – You are responsible for the insurance of your own contents and accidental damage to the landlord’s belongings.  It is a requirement of your tenancy agreement that you MUST hold adequate contents insurance for the property.

Telephone/Broadband/Television – You are responsible for payment of a TV license if you use a TV in the property.  Umega Lettings has secured preferential rates with Virgin Media for telephone/broadband/television packages and any Umega tenant will receive a ‘welcome’ credit if they open an account with Virgin Media through Umega Lettings.  Please contact our office if you would like further information.

Utility Suppliers – You are responsible for informing suppliers ASAP with meter readings (see inventory for readings and suppliers) and your personal details.

Council Tax – You are responsible for setting up and closing your council tax account.  Edinburgh council can be contacted at [email protected]

Inventory – We recommend you taking photographs of the condition of your property when you enter.  You should return the inventory, including notes of any defects, to us within 7 days.

 What is an Emergency?

It is our view that an emergency situation is when the incident is dangerous, life-threatening or may result in personal injury or a public liability claim or serious deterioration of the property. If you have an emergency situation, for example, water coming through the ceiling, we will endeavour to help you immediately.

Is the issue an emergency?

The landlord will only pay for contractors to attend to the property out of office hours in the vent of emergencies. We deem an emergency to be placing tenants in danger or serious deterioration of the property. We expect our tenants to use common sense as to what is deemed an emergency.

Please note: If an emergency contractor attends unnecessarily you may be held liable for the costs involved. Please take the following actions before calling our emergency line.

Gas

If you smell gas or suspect a leak of suspect fumes are escaping from an appliance, call the Gas Emergency Services immediately on 0800 111 999 (24 hours). Open windows and doors and if necessary vacate the property. Do not turn on an electrical appliances or switches.

Electrical Fault

Check fuses have not blown, circuit breakers are in the ‘ON’ position and that there hasn’t been a general power cut in the area.

If you have a power cut, check to see if your neighbours are affected too.

  • If your neighbours’ supply is still on – check your trip switch (if you have one). If it has tripped, switch off all your appliances then reset it
  • If your neighbours also have no power – call your local Electricity Network Operator’s 24 Hour Emergency Helpline. Scottish Power Energy Networks – 0800 092 9290 (landline) or 0330 1010 222 (mobile)

Heating & Hot Water

The loss of heating and hot water is only deemed an emergency if the weather is extremely cold or you have a young baby in the property. If you think your boiler isn’t working properly, first check to see if the pilot light is on and, if you have a combination-boiler, check that the pressure is set between 1 and 2. The instruction manual will tell you how to re-light the pilot light and re-set the pressure if you suspect this is the problem. If you don’t have a manual to hand you can find these online by searching for the boiler make and model number.

Leaks

For small leaks which can be caught in a container, please ensure that you put a bucket or similar container below the leak and remember to empty it regularly. Please then contact us during office hours. If you suffer a burst pipe or severe water leaking into the property you must firstly locate the stop cock and turn off the water. Mop up all surface water as quickly as possible to prevent damage. Call the emergency number and we will then arrange a plumber to attend as soon as possible. If water is coming from an upstairs property, alert the occupants above immediately and ask them to shut off the source of the leak. If they are not I, leave them a note to contact you and call your local Environmental Health Department (0131 529 3030 / 0131 200 2000) and ask for the water ingress team.

For all other emergencies not listed above, please use common sense before calling. We will only respond to real emergencies that cannot wait until the next working day. For EMERGENCY gas-related, boiler-related and plumber-related issues contact our main line on 0131 221 0888 and our out of hours team will get in contact with our emergency tradesmen to attend ASAP.

CONDENSATION IS NOT DAMP! Condensation is created when a property is not ventilated well enough and becomes evident when there is a difference in temperature between inside and outside. It is a tenant’s responsibility to make sure condensation and mould do not build up in a property. Make sure you open your windows and doors to ventilate your property and don’t turn off the extractor fan in internal bath/shower-rooms. If you are concerned that mould in your property may be related to damp, please let us know ASAP and we’ll organise a damp specialist to survey the property to give us their professional opinion.

External maintenance and upkeep is normally the responsibility of the landlord. Similarly, if your property is within a factored development, the landlord will normally cover the cost of communal costs such as stair cleaning / lift servicing / gardening. If your property has its own garden you are responsible for the upkeep of this as long as the landlord has provided you with the necessary tools to do so.

Assuming your tenancy is within two months of the end of its initial period or the initial period has expired then you need to provide us with two months written notice to leave by emailing your property manager (if you aren’t sure who this is, please email [email protected]). If you are not within two months of ending your lease or you need to leave at shorter notice then still email us at the same email address. We will work with your landlord where possible to bring your lease to an end early and replace you with a new tenancy. The landlord cannot make you move out, nor can you legally walk away from your tenancy obligations without the necessary notice, however in some situations we can negotiate with both parties to end the tenancy early, on a mutually agreed date, in writing.

A landlord can give notice in writing at least 2 months before the end of the initial fixed term, or at any time afterwards that they want possession of the property.  There are specific grounds by which a landlord can seek possession of the property during the course of the tenancy – For further information on this, please check Neil’s blog ‘Get your end of tenancy right’ – it can be a minefield if it’s not done correctly!

No way! The deposit is held against the property to cover damage and settle any outstanding amounts at the end of the tenancy. We are not able to touch the deposit until after the tenancy so if you don’t pay your last month’s rent the landlord will be out of pocket and will not be happy….and you will be in breach of your contract.

Yes!

  1. Ensure you leave the property in a clean and tidy condition that is suitable for Umega to re-let. If cleaning is required the costs will be deducted from your deposit.
  2. The utilities should be paid in full up to your vacating date. It is your responsibility to contact the local Council to update their Council Tax Records.
  3. Check the inventory – Please ensure that no items have gone missing or have been damaged during the term of your tenancy. If there is anything missing or damaged which is listed in the inventory this will need to be replaced.  No personal belongings/unwanted items are to be left in the property.
  4. On the date that you vacate the property please return all keys to the office. If this is outside office hours please put them in an envelope and drop them through our office letterbox.
  5. Please also arrange with the post office for your mail to be redirected.
  6. Your deposit cannot be used to pay your last month’s rent. Please arrange for your standing order to be cancelled by your bank following the payment of your last monthly rent due.

When your tenancy is over and you have vacated the property, we will carry out a check out inspection where we assess the condition of the property at the end of your tenancy compared to the start of the tenancy, by using the inventory – you are welcome to attend. If any cleaning or work is required at the property then you will be notified and the necessary work ordered. Once the invoices come back from our contractors then we can notify the Tenancy Deposit Scheme provider of the final balance (if any) to be billed against the deposit held. This process can take a couple of weeks but we do it as quickly as we can.