AST Clauses, Holding Deposits and Affordability ChecksMake Text Bigger
I’ve been getting the paperwork ready for a BTL property that I’m close to completing on. There’s three things that I’m not 100% sure about and was hoping for some advice on. They’re all unrelated, so apologies if I should be raising these under separate discussions…
(1) Adding clauses to an AST
I’m aware that you have to be VERY careful with ASTs. I’m using a NLA template but am wanting to add the following two items under the tenants obligations:
“Not to light any fires in the Property. Fireplaces in the Property have been retained as decorative features and are no longer suitable for open fires or fuel burning appliances.”
“To have the use of all appliances in the property, as laid out in the Inventory save those which are noted as not working. However, should any items require repair, or be beyond repair, the Landlord does not undertake to pay for any costs to repair or to replace the appliance, except those which the Landlord is required by law to maintain.
Do these clauses sound reasonable? The first one is entirely my own concoction, so if anyone has any better ideas or thinks it is unnecessary, please tell me. I was just wanting to cover myself in case the tenant causes damage and claims never to have been aware that he couldn’t use the fireplaces. I was going to add something similar to the general notes in the inventory, and of course tell them in person.
The second one I wanted to add in case I end up with ‘heavy handed’ tenants. I’m happy to fix or replace one or two white goods a year, but don’t particularly want to be liable for replacing the entire lot!
(2) How much to charge for a holding deposit
I know there’s been some good discussion about holding deposits on this site already, but I don’t remember anyone saying how much they should be. I’ve read somewhere that ‘about a weeks rent’ should be asked for as a holding deposit, which seems reasonable. However, I’ve also read that up to ‘half a months rent’ can be asked for, which, although it would deter tenants pulling out at the last minute (which might end up costing the landlord several weeks rent), does seem rather steep. If asked for at all, what are other landlords asking for as a holding deposit?
(3) Affordability checks
Do people think that the standard referencing check of income being at least 2.5 x rent is enough? If the tenant is losing say 20% of their income to tax, that means half of their net income would go on rent. After council tax and utilities, not to mention any debts or other financial commitments they might have, many are going to be broke. It’s no wonder rent arrears are such a problem. Mortgage lenders require incomes to be 4 to 5 x mortgage, so a rental affordability check of 2.5 x rent seems rather low. Does anyone impose their own, more stringent criteria, such as 3 x rent? Or would this be too restrictive…?
Any advice or comments to any of these queries/topics would be most welcome and appreciated.
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