I have been asked for a 12 months rent in advance

by Readers Question

10:20 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

I have been asked for a 12 months rent in advance

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I have been asked for a 12 months rent in advance

I am a student that will be studying in the United Kingdom soon.Overseas Tenant

I really need some advice on whether I should rent the property that I found through a website.

The agent to that property is insisting on 12 months rent in advance and an extra 1 month rent as deposit. They also charge an additional £199 for a background check which I know it is a standard procedure but it usually only costs £150.

I really wanted to know whether it is normal for a tenant to pay an upfront of 12 months and whether the agent is reliable.

I sincerely thank anyone that can provide me any advice.

Jonathan Lim



Comments

Mark Alexander

10:26 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Jonathan

It is not unusual for a landlord/letting agent to request 12 months rent up front as well as a deposit from overseas tenants, particularly students. Referencing fees are dictated by market forces.

You may find a better deal but will it be the property you really want? Only you can make that decision.

An excellent website to check out letting agents is http://www.allagents.co.uk/ - it's a bit like Trip adviser but for letting agents as opposed to hotels.

The other thing to check out is whether the letting agent is currently a member of one of the professional bodies: ARLA, RICS, NALS, Law Society and that their client money protection is up to date. Check out this video on You Tube >>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zncvz1oAkCQ
.

Mary Latham

11:03 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

PLEASE DO NOT pay 12 months rent for something that you have not yet seen. It is common practice for landlords and agents to take a terms rent in advance, particularly from overseas tenants who cannot provide a UK homeowner as guarantor but 12 months is less usual. If you arrive and find that the accommodation is not suitable or is not in a good student areas it will be too late because they will not give you the money back. I'm sorry but not all landlord or agents are honest and I would not let one of my own children pay 12 months in advance for a property they had not seen.

I have been letting to students since 1972 - many from overseas and I have heard some stories about the standard of the accommodation/room sizes/facilities not being as they were described in the advertising, even where there were photographs. There are some things that you could do to reduce the risk of taking a poor property.

Contact the university accommodation office and ask for the names of landlords and agents that they recommend. Check to see if they have an Accreditation Scheme and if they have, that any landlord or agent you deal with is a member.

Ask the university if there is a Group/society for students who come to them from your country and if there is contact them and ask for their help

Google the name of the landlord or agent and asking if anyone has rented property from xyz and see what comes up.

If you post to tell us the name of your University perhaps a landlord or agent on this site can help you. Good luck and I hope that you have a wonderful time studying in the UK

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Vanessa Warwick

11:05 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Jonathan,

Are you renting a room or an entire property?

I would be wary of paying 12 months upfront.

Most professional lettings agents would be happy for you to supply a rental guarantor.

May I also advise you to make sure you are renting from the landlord?

There are a lot of people renting properties, and then sub-letting the rooms to overseas students like you who do not understand their rights.

To pay 12 months upfront to someone who might NOT be the landlord is very risky, as this person could simply disappear with your money and you would be left high and dry!

Please be very careful. Go through an accredited agent and also look for the SAFE agent logo.

Mark Alexander

11:10 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Good advice from Mary and Vanessa here, I had not considered that Jonathan may not have actually visited the property or arranged for a friend or relative to view on his behalf.

As both Mary and Vanessa have said, one can never be too careful.

Good luck 🙂
.

Romain Garcin

11:26 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Wise advice above, though it could be difficult to find a guarantor if the person had no family, etc. in the UK. An overseas guarantor is not worth anything...

Specifically on such rent in advance arrangements there are caveats:
- the arrangement must be clearly stated in the contract as an initial payment to cover the first n months but rent should still be listed as £x pcm payable monthly (for example)
- it is not advisable to pay in advance for the full duration of the proposed fixed term tenancy: E.g. if 12 month tenancy, best to agree to pay no more than the first 11 months in advance, then pay monthly as normal for the last month. The reason is to avoid creating a periodic tenancy with 12 month periods thereafter (I suspect that this issue is often overlooked...)

Mary Latham

11:32 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain " at "14/08/2013 - 11:26":

In this case 10 months of the rent would be a deposit and must be protected as usual.

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Romain Garcin

11:38 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

If "rent in advance" is demanded but held as a buffer and not allocated to specific periods, then yes it would be held as security and thus be a deposit requiring protection.
But if it is a payment to cover the first x months of rent then it is not a deposit.

Jonathan Lim

12:00 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mary Latham" at "14/08/2013 - 11:03":

Thank you for all the advice, I will be studying in University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield and the agent that we are dealing with is **MODERATED**. There are 4 of us and we wanted to rent the whole property. However, we do not know who is the actual landlord cause we only contact the agent through email and phone calls. Is **MODERATED** a reliable trustworthy agent??

Mark Alexander

12:07 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan Lim" at "14/08/2013 - 12:00":

Jonathan, I am terribly sorry I have had to moderate your post but we are not a review site, please see >>> http://www.property118.com/what-property118-is-not/

I have recommended a good review site in my post.

Welwyn Council operate a Landlords Accreditation scheme and work very closely with the University. I suggest you also run the name of the agent past them.
.

Vanessa Warwick

12:09 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Jonathan,

Please ask the agent if they are a SAFEagent. This is imperative.

They MUST have client money protection in place or you and your £££ are at SERIOUS risk.

If the agent goes bust with your 12 months rent, and it is not protected in a separate client money account, you will have lost it and your home.

It is a simple thing to ask the agent if they are a SAFEagent.

Alternatively, you can search for a SAFEagent on http://www.safeagents.co.uk

ONLY work with a SAFEagent in this scenario.

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