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How long do we wait after tenant gives deposit?


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Is there a rule about the length of time a new tenant is allowed between putting a deposit on a house and moving in?

Our agents found a new tenant for one of our properties 5 weeks ago and the tenant gave a deposit.

Each time I ask when they are moving in the agent says all the references havent yet come back.

At what point is it reasonable to expect a tenant to start paying rent, regardless of when they actually move in?

Also, if they sign a 6 month shorthold tenancy can they still give notice and move out before that first period has ended and not be liable for the full 6 months rent?

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We have it stated on our application forms that all the required info has to be supplied within one week or they forfeit their reservation fee (£100). We have done this because in the past the checking process has dragged out longer and longer with some people because we were waiting for certain info and then they pull out. This has then lost 3-4 weeks of potential rental income.

If a tenant wants a property but cant move in for say 5 weeks we try to meet in the middle and try to get them to take the tenancy a week or 2 earlier which most do to avoid losing the property.

You need to get the agent to give the tenant a deadline to provide the info (find out what it is they are waiting on). Also what is the deposit paid and under what circumstances can it be withheld and does the agent or you get to keep it?

You don't want the tenants to sign a tenancy before the refs have been done in case they fail. Strictly speaking once the tenancy is signed and dated and funds have changed hands it is a binding contract but it is not unheard of for some tenants to try to pull out. If the tenancy is drawn up as a deed it makes it a more heavy weight doc.

The rent isnt normally due until the rent day but I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask for the first payment in advance if the tenancy didn't start for a few weeks to show commitment.

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Just in the process now.......

2 weeks for tenant credit checks, CCJ's etc. including the rent payment guarantor paperwork.

AST's contracts all signed up.

Deposit and 1st months rent due tomorrow. 3 weeks from the start of the tenant viewing and accepting.

Tenant moves in on the 1st October. 4 weeks.

My new Tenant had to give 4 weeks notice on their other rental property and in my experience this is where the delays come into play as tenants who have to give notice are sometimes slow to do so for whatever that reason may be.

So it will be 4 weeks from start to finish which is fine by me as I am completely refurbishing the property.

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Strictly speaking once the tenancy is signed and dated and funds have changed hands it is a binding contract but it is not unheard of for some tenants to try to pull out.

Its my understanding that there are 3 elements to a valid tenancy.

* signed contract

* consideration (payment)

* moving into property

ie the tenant needs to move into the property for the tenancy agreement to become valid in law. So a tenant who signs & pays but doesn't complete the circle by moving in can change their mind and walk away. I seem to remember there is case law on the matter but I'm happy to be proven wrong.

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With contract law you need:




But a contract drawn up as deed does not need consideration.

When i went on the ARLA legal courses many years ago they stated if the contract (ast) was drawn up signed and dated that was binding.

I have heard since if drawn up as a deed it reinforces the situation even more and there is no backing out without agreement from both parties. Our AST's have recently just been changed to deeds.

Also there is the issue or deed or not with a guarentor. If the non-deed guarantee doc is signed after the tenancy has started it is invalid because there is no "consideration". If drawn up as a deed it doesnt matter if the tenancy has started.

I dont profess to be a expert on contract law but the above is what I have picked up from courses and legal data bases we have access to.

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Question for Grampa - from interesting points made above.

It may seem silly question: What exactly is difference between AST as not a Deed, and AST as a deed?

In my experience ASTs are presented with sufficient copies for all parties named and involved, and all copies signed, witnessed and dated by all parties. All parties thus retain a completed copy. I thought this would be a Deed.

I don't have legal knowledge of definition of a Deed.

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It isn’t a silly question but I am probably not the best person to answer the question but generally I would say it doesn’t make much difference unless you were planning to get a tenancy signed now and to start sometime in the future then it would be advisable to get it signed as a deed. As it doesn’t take much to convert a doc to a deed you have nothing to lose by doing so.

A deed will have it stated on the document that it is a deed. It will also have to be signed and witnessed. If either of those are missing I it just becomes a normal common law contract.

There are many AST's out there that have to be witnessed but unless the doc states it is a deed it isn’t and if the signatures are not witnessed it doesn’t matter. We used to get signatures witnessed on non-deed AST's but was really just to try to emphasise the importance of the contract to the tenant.

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