The letting process
Once the landlord has agreed to allow Dorset Property to market the property, we draw up a contract which details the arrangement and our terms and conditions.
Dorset Property features prominently throughout the county in local newspapers and magazines, on property websites, through sponsorship of local events and in search engines and publications. Property particulars are featured in our window, on our website, on the leading property portals and, where appropriate, in local newspapers. Summary details are also included on our property lists, which are circulated to all offices, widening the scope of prospective tenants.
A 'To Let' board is placed outside the property. This is an extremely valuable marketing tool. The board promotes the availability of a property to prospective tenants passing by or by word of mouth. It is common for tenants to tour a location to identify specific areas or even roads in which they would prefer to live. In this competitive market, the board will often be the crucial initial catalyst in securing a tenant.
We are also in regular contact with relocation agents and local employers looking to place people starting work in the area.
Enquiries are dealt with face to face, via the telephone, website, e-mail and text. Each prospective tenant is registered to enable prompt, targeted property matching.
There are a wide variety of tenants looking to rent properties. Individuals and couples setting up home for the first time, people relocating due to a change of job, couples separating, people selling their home to release capital or families looking for a second home in the country. Tenants come from all walks of life, from all over the UK and from overseas.
When considering suitable tenants, our prime concerns are to ensure that the rent will be paid reliably and that the property will be looked after.
Children, pets and smokers
Children, pets and smokers are only allowed with the landlord’s permission. However it should be remembered that restrictions can limit the number of prospective tenants.
Most tenants who smoke agree to only do so outside.
A tenant in receipt of housing benefit can be accepted at the landlord’s discretion, subject to the tenant providing a suitable guarantor with an income of at least three times the annual rent.
Comprehensive tenant referencing
Once a tenant has been accepted by the landlord we check the tenant’s identity and proof of residence and instigate a comprehensive referencing procedure. This includes a credit check and obtaining references from the employer (accountant and trade references if self-employed), and the previous landlord (or agent), if the tenant is renting. Many letting agents employ third party agencies for referencing. We use a specialist company for credit checks. Other references are undertaken by our staff (except when rent guarantee is involved, when the insurer takes up references). This provides quality control of a critical aspect of the job.
Before a tenant is accepted, references must be suitable and income criteria met. Where a guarantor is required, separate references will be taken.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (for tenancies covered by The Housing Act) is the most common tenancy. This gives the landlord a mandatory right of repossession at the end of the agreed term and offers flexibility to both landlord and tenant. Other tenancies, including company lets and short lets are outside the jurisdiction of The Housing Act. The appropriate tenancy agreement is drawn up in each case.
A deposit, normally equivalent to one and a half months rent, is taken at the outset of the tenancy to cover damage, missing items, cleaning and any outstanding monies due at the end of the tenancy.
It is a legal requirement for any such deposit held under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (The Housing Act tenancy) to be registered with a government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. Dorset Property is a member of The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
For fully managed properties, the deposit is registered with the TDS and held by Dorset Property as stakeholder in a separate account. No interest is paid to landlords or tenants on deposits. We are happy to administer and hold deposits in the same way for tenant find only and tenant find and rent collection properties, but we do not negotiate the return of the deposit.
The deposit is released following the check-out, once the landlord and tenant have agreed to the amount to be returned to each party, after taking into account any deductions. Payment of the deposit is made within ten working days of written consent being received from both parties.
If the deposit return cannot be agreed, the matter would be the subject of a dispute which would be decided by The Dispute Service, the organisation which administers the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.