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Questions about Unihousing

Our Tenants Frequently asked Questions and Answers

Accreditation and Status

Q) What accreditations do Unihousing hold or adhere to?
A) Unihousing is accredited by the Midlands Landlord Association and is listed on Birmingham Universities Landlord Accreditation Scheme. All our Gas Engineers are Corgi registered and all deposits are held in accordance with Tenancy Deposit protection with MyDeposits

Q) Are Unihousing agents or landlords?
A) Unihousing are the agents AND owners of the properties. As in any business financial decisions have to be made in consent with the business owner. Most agents are dealing with a number of landlords at Unihousing there is only one.

Moving in

Q) Does Unihousing take an inventory of the property and provide it to the tenant?
A) Unihousing takes their own inventory including photos of any existing damage as necessary. This is provided to the tenant so they can check the inventory is correct or promptly report anything that is not.

Q) Are tenants made aware of the properties boundary?
A) Tenants should make sure they are aware of the properties boundaries when moving into the property. The agent will provide this information if the tenant is not sure.

Fees and other costs

Q) Other than the cost of the rent, what other bills do I need to plan for?
A) Unihousing will require a letting administration fee and deposit from every tenant. The way the administration fee is charged depends on the type of tenancy: professional or student. Tenants will also need to plan for council tax and utility bills. Some properties may have electricity, water and or gas included in the rent. Tenants may also need to consider the cost of a television licence and other telecommunications bills.

Q) Is there a standard administration fee, at what point in the tenancy is this fee meant to be paid?
A) There is a standard administration fee which covers staff time for setting up of tenancy agreement and chasing tenants for associated items at the start and end of a tenancy. For professional lettings this is charged at the start of a tenancy. For student lettings the fee has been historically charged at the end of the tenancy. As this has proved unpopular, the charge is now added to the rent and paid throughout the year. This is explained at the start of the tenancy before any agreements are signed.

Q)Are any property lets inclusive of ALL bills? (water, gas, council tax)
A) Unihousing operates a number of different letting agreements. Some are inclusive of bills some are not. Where bills are included this would only usually cover electricity and sometimes water and gas. It wouldn't normally include council tax or telecommunications. Although some students are exempt from council tax it is the tenants responsibility to register for exemption.

Q) Do Unihousing chase tenants for outstanding bills related to properties?
A) Unihousing passes on a tenant's details to suppliers if bills are provided after an tenant has moved out. Unihousing does not chase tenants directly, except in relation to council tax.

Customer Satisfaction

Q) How does Unihousing handle disputes over deposits?
A) Unihousing tries to be fair with all tenants. All charges are carefully explained both verbally and in writing before the tenancy agreement is signed. If a prospective tenant isn't happy with any charges they shouldn't enter into a tenancy agreement. Unihousing has been successfully letting houses to students for 28 years with very few problems.

Condition of Properties

Q) Will the property have been cleaned when I move in?
A) Normally the previous tenant will have cleaned the property before they leave. If this doesn't happen, Unihousing will organise for a cleaner. If the property was clean when the previous tenant moved in they will be billed for the cleaning. Sometimes new tenants are not able to wait for the property to be cleaned before moving in. In these instances, the previous tenants will be billed for the cleaning, although the cleaning itself won't take place until the end of the following tenancy. Once a new tenant has moved in it, it is not normally possible to clean, due to the tenants belongings being in the way. If the tenant has found a property to be in a poor condition they should immediately document this and inform the agent, to avoid the possibility of future disputes.

Deposits and deductions

Q) Will I know what deductions can be made from my deposit?
A) Any possible deductions are listed in the Deposit Deduction Agreement and are explained to tenants before the agreement is signed. More then 12 months will elapse between the agreement being signed and moving out of the property. We therefore advise tenants to read their letting and deposit agreement at the end of the tenancy so there are no misunderstandings.

Q) Do Unihousing take improvements tenants have made to properties into account when assessing the deposit return? For example leaving it clean when it was not clean at the start of an tenancy?
A) The agency does take any improvements made to properties into account when assessing the return of a deposit. Tenants are advised to check with Unihousing before making improvements, as some changes to a property, such as painting a room pink, would not be viewed as an improvement. Unauthorised alterations may result in Unihousing charging the tenant for restoring the room to it's original condition.

Q) What are leap year fees?
A) In line with most landlords Unihousing operates a leap year fee. In a normal year there are 365 days, which is 52 weeks and 1 day: 7 x 52 + 1 = 365. Rent is quoted and charged per week, even if actually paid in 12 calendar monthly instalments. Therefore, in a normal year an extra day’s rent is owed, and in a leap year there are two extra days of rent to be paid. Historically, this charge has been deducted at the end of a tenancy. As making these charges at the end of the tenancy proved very unpopular, future tenancies will have the charge for the extra day staggered throughout the year with rent instalments.

Q) I have read cleaning deductions can be over £100 is this true?
A) Cleaning deductions will vary according to the size of a house. Large houses may incur a cleaning fees in excess of £100.

Q) Would tenants be charged for removal of any rubbish?
A) There are service charges in the tenancy agreement that cover the occasional removal of litter from the property, such as rubbish left after refuse collections and any small items of litter in the front garden. This doesn't cover excess rubbish left at the end of the tenancy. The property should be left clear of any items which were not there at the start of the tenancy.

Q) Do Unihousing make deposit deductions for removal of rubbish in areas beyond the property's boundary?
A) Deductions to deposits will only be made for clearing rubbish inside of the property's boundary.

Maintenance of the property

Q) Does the garden need to be maintained?
A) It is part of the letting agreement that gardens must be left in the same condition as they were found. This includes keeping lawns and hedges trimmed and flower beds weed-free.

Q) Are fuse boards and gas isolation points made accessible to tenants?
A) Some propertied do not have fused board accessible to all tenants, due to the fuse board being located within a bedroom. Unihousing is addressing this issue by moving the fuse boards and installing break glass where the gas supply isolation point is installed.

Q) Does a landlord have to authorise a visit from an electrician?
A) The landlord would only need to authorise emergency visits from electricians.

Q) Are tenants made aware if they will be charged for repairs?
A) Tenants are made aware of any repairs they will be charged for, this includes anything that is deemed as malicious or accidental damage.

Q) When are charges for repairs normally made? Are there exceptions to this?
A) Repairs are charged for when they are made. If damage is not reported to Unihousing during the tenancy, charges are made against the deposit.

Peaceful dwelling

Q) Do tenants receive warning if a representative is going to enter the property?
A) Tenants receive 24 hours notice if a representative of Unihousing is going to enter the property, except in an emergency.

Q) Are contractors provided with keys without the tenants consent?
A) Contractors are provided with keys to make repairs. If the front door opens into a bedroom the back door will be used for access. Tenants are always informed if contractors are going to visit. Other than legally required annual gas safety checks, it is normally the tenant who has requested this visit.

Q) Are amendments made to properties without the tenants consent during the letting period?
A) Any amendments to properties are always made with the tenants consent.

Property features

Q) Do front doors open into bedrooms on any of the properties?
A) Some propertied have front doors that open into bedrooms. In these instances only the tenant will hold the key to this room and another access point will be used for entry into the property. In the few houses where this is the case we are considering placing a corridor through the room, however this does result in a smaller room.

Leaving the property

Q) Is any guidance given to tenants on how they should clean or exit a property? When is this guidance given?
A) A letter is sent out approximately 6 weeks before the end of the tenancy explaining what the tenant needs to do when leaving the property.

Q) Will an agent give an all clear on the day of inspection?
A) The purpose of the final inspection is to obtain a report of the properties current condition. Any deductions are proposed once previous condition reports have been consulted. An agent will not provide any information about deductions of deposits while inspecting properties.

Return of Deposit

Q) Will Unihousing tell me how much of my deposit is being returned over the phone?
A) It is Unihousing policy that all information about deposit returns are made in writing. Agents may give general information about deposits over the phone but can not give any verbal assurances as to the actual amount being returned.

Q) Will my deposit be returned within 10 days?
A) Your deposit will be returned within 10 days, provided any deductions have been agreed and all utility bills had been presented.

Q) Would a member of staff being on leave effect the time scale of the deposits return?
A) There are always enough members of our team in the office to ensure deposits are returned within the standard 20 days. Any delay to deposit return would not be due to a resourcing issue.

Q) Do tenants normally receive their full deposit back?
A) The majority of tenants do receive their full deposit back.

Return of rent

Q) If I move out early will Unihousing refund any rent?
A) Tenants are contracted for a fixed term, this means that Unihousing will not provide refunds if tenants leave early.

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