Frequently Asked Questions & Information For Tenants
How do I get to the Bath Universities?
First Bus operate two bus services to the Universities. Service 418 goes to both universities, and service 18 to Bath University only. The bus routes are shown on the 'Bath Network' and 'City Centre' maps issued by First. Please note this information may be subject to regular change and should be confirmed with the service operators.
What are 'mesne' profits
Mesne profits are sums of money paid for the occupation of land to a person with right of immediate occupation, where no permission has been given for that occupation.
This situation may arise where a landlord has obtained an order from a court for the possession of their land from a tenant who is to be evicted. Some time may elapse from the date of the court order -- which ends the tenancy -- and the recovery of possession by the landlord. The tenant owes no rent for the occupation, since they have ceased to be a tenant, but will be made to pay a charge, usually identical to the rent, which is known as a mesne profit.
In England and Wales the term occupation charge is becoming more usual as a result of the move away from Law French and Latin in the law.
Payment of rent for students
Student rents are generally payable in advance at the beginning of each term coinciding with the payment of Student Loans. It may be possible to vary payment dates and methods in special circumstances, subject to agreement. To vary the method of payment a request should be made in writing.
Many students have found the standard means of rent payment to be beneficial as it can help with their budgeting. Depending on the agreement a smaller payment may be due at the beginning of the summer. Details of the payments due will be in the tenancy agreement and it is the tenants responsibility to pay the rent on time in the manner specified or agreed. No reminders are issued and interest is payable on outstanding rent.
Tenants can find further information on rent payments here.
A deposit is payable to reserve a property. This is a holding deposit and is not returnable. When a tenancy agreement is entered into and signed by both tenant and landlord the holding deposit may by agreement become the deposit for the tenancy at which time it will become subject to registration with a Government approved protection scheme. The scheme used by ourselves is My Deposits.
It should be noted that the deposit is a single deposit on the property and that all tenancies are 'joint and several'. In the case of a group of co-tenants, even though individuals may have contributed toward the deposit it is not an individual deposit. At the end of the tenancy after any deductions the balance of the deposit is returned to the lead tenant, who is responsible for distribution of money to individuals depending on their individual liability as agreed by the group. The Landlord cannot become involved in determining if any individual tenants have any particular liability.
Lead Tenant and Communication
For all tenancies there is a Lead Tenant. This person is appointed by their co-tenants and acts on behalf of the group. To avoid confusion and conflicts, communication with the Landlord should normally be via the lead tenant. Likewise the Landlord may communicate with the group via the lead tenant alone and it is the lead tenants responsibility to inform their co-tenants of the content of the communication. If communication from the Landlord is via email a copy may be sent to all tenants, however it is still the lead tenants responsibility to act on, and ensure that everyone is aware of the content.
Where washing appliances (washing machine, tumble dryer, combination washer/dryer) are installed, it is a requirement of the tenancy that hire charges are paid as appropriate. Details of the charges and who to make payments to are in the house handbook.
Damage due to mould growth
Invariably tenants are responsible for any damages due to mould growth. Mould can be a problem in most UK homes due to our climatic conditions unless the property is managed correctly in regard to heating and ventilation. Houses that are completely clear of mould one year can be a major problem the following year with different tenants. Information sheets are available to tenants on how to avoid and manage this problem. Further information and advice can be found in the house Handbook.
Am I responsible for a leaking shower?
This depends on the problem. Tenants are responsible for replacing the hose or handset if they leak. Invariably the problem is due to usage and not keeping them clean and free from limescale. If an ordinary shower valve leaks the tenant is probably not responsible. However if an electric shower starts to leak the problem is usually due to a safety pressure 'valve' operating as a result of a blocked hose or shower head. It is often necessary to replace the shower and the tenant will be responsible for this. Tenants are unlikely to be responsible for a leaking shower tray unless this results from some action on their part which might include causing damage to the shower door.
Some houses are provided with a metered supply where you will be charged for actual usage, but irrespective of this it it is good practice to minimise the use of water.
Water supply pipes should be adequately protected against freezing but in very severe conditions it is wise to be aware there may be problems. If the house is to left empty at any time the heating should be set to come on briefly in the morning and in the evening to avoid pipes freezing.
Leaking taps are a problem and should be reported to the landlord. If is is difficult to turn a tap off then this may be initiative of a problem and again should be reported.
If there is a problem with the water supply to any particular tap or appliance that may be leaking then the first course of action is to turn off the supply to that particular item and often there is a small valve on the inlet which can be closed with a screwdriver. If this isn't available then it may be necessary to turn off the supply to the house at the stop tap. If this isn't possible then it may be necessary to turn off the supply at the outside stop tap which will be under a small metal cover either in the garden or in the pavement. In case of difficulty with the outside stop tap tenants should contact the water supply company.
In any hard water area, Bath in particular, limescale is a major problem that needs to be constantly addressed; otherwise the tenant could be responsible for resulting damage. Build-up of limescale can cause permanent damage to taps, sinks, baths, shower doors, sanitary fittings etc as it eats into the surface of chrome, brass, enamel and rubber. Removal of large amounts of limescale can itself result in damage and care needs to be taken. Mostly build-up of limescale does not have an immediate effect other than shower heads where the holes become blocked very easily.
Note that allowing scale to build up on shower doors can often result in them not operating properly which can lead to damage and the tenant having to pay for replacement.
The answer to these problems is regular cleaning. Wherever possible surfaces should be dried and not left wet. Showers should be wiped down with a squeege and all fittings wiped dry. Taps etc should be cleaned regularly. Shower heads need to be removed as soon as there is a noticeable change in performance, e.g. water not coming out of all holes or slowing down, and cleaned using Descaler in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. This may be required on a weekly or monthly basis depending on use etc. Shower head damaged by or blocked with limescale have to be replaced by the tenant.
What about blocked drains?
Chances are that blocked drains will be the tenants responsibility. There are two types of drainage systems, one to take away storm/rain water and one to take away foul or dirty water from toilets, sinks, baths, showers etc; although sometimes these systems are combined and storm water drains into the foul sewerage system.
The storm water system consists of guttering to collect roof water, down pipes discharging into gullys or traps, and underground pipes to take the water away from the property. The gullys or traps often become blocked with material collecting in them and they need clearing out as necessary. If they are blocked then the water will not be able to drain through them and they will overflow. It is rare for an underground storm water pipe to become blocked.
The foul water system consists of all the drains and pipes within the house serving the toilets, sinks, baths, showers etc. All these pipes usually collect into one main pipe that exits the house underground. It is common for sinks on the ground floor to drain through a pipe through the wall which discharges into a gully outside the house, which itself is connected directly to the foul sewer. Usually any underground pipes or gullys will join together at a manhole which will have a removable cover on it, usually metal but in some instances the cover may be concrete.
Blockages in the foul water system are fairly common. Kitchen sink traps become blocked with food debris and fat, shower outlets become blocked with hair and soap fats, toilets become blocked with excess paper and sanitary goods. Such blockages will be the responsibility of the tenants. It is extremely unlikely that a fault would occur with the internal pipework that would cause blockage that might be down to the landlord. Fairly commonly a gully or trap outside the property into which kitchen sink waste discharges becomes blocked. This is usually due to fat and food waste originating from the sink and the gully will have to be cleared by hand or by using a chemical unblocker (use with caution). Less often a blockage may occur in the underground pipes outside the property. A blockage will not be immediately obvious and may first be indicated by smells of sewage. If there is a smell to check if there is a blockage the manhole cover, if there is one, can be lifted to see if the pipe is running. If sewage starts to seep from the cover and gullys do not drain away the pipes will certainly be blocked. Sometimes the blockage may be some distance away from the property and affect others. In such cases the blockage is likely to be the responsibility of the statutory water undertaker (Wessex Water in Bath). If the blockage is in the pipe serving the one property then it will most likely be the responsibility of the tenant.
All our properties are free from pests at the start of a tenancy. In 2015 the House of Commons issued guidelines for dealing with pests in privately rented accommodation and therein stated that in general a tenant was responsible for pest control unless there was a pre-existing problem. Notwithstanding this the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) has put together some guidelines on what the tenant and the agent or landlord is responsible for.
The AIIC guidelines are as follows:
Wasps –The landlord will need to arrange and pay for removal of a nest that is apparent at the start of a tenancy.
Rats – If this is an ongoing problem with the property, it is the Landlord’s responsibility to pay for regular treatment.
Fleas – If there is a flea infestation is present at the start of a new tenancy, then it is again down to the landlord to have the carpets and upholstery fumigated if a tenant’s pets are not the cause of the problem.
Bees –They are a protected species and swarms should only be removed by a professional bee-keeper. It is the responsibility of the tenant to pay for removal of a bees nest.
Ants - These can be a real nuisance and will return, usually to the kitchen time and time again. Stricter cleaning regimes will discourage them. There are a multitude of treatments available from supermarkets or hardware shops.
Wasps – if a nest appears in the middle of a tenancy removal is at the tenants cost.
Mice – if this problem was not apparent on the day of check in removal measures are at tenants cost. Again ensuring that no food debris if left lying around will discourage them.
What tenants may have to live with….
Bats – Any nesting of bats will have to be ignored as they are a protected. Generally they will not cause too much damage, but their droppings can be fairly disgusting.
Squirrels – these are a real nuisance and are known to chew through just about anything, electrical wiring is a particular delicacy. It is illegal to trap and kill squirrels during their breeding season – but unfortunately this is just the time when they want to inhabit a property. A pest control company will need to be contacted so they can advise the best way to proceed.
A full fire alarm is fitted in some houses which will also include emergency lighting. If there is a power cut the system may have to be reset when power is restored. To do this enter 3545 followed by 1. Note that if you switch the mains power off for an extended period or if you fail to make sure there is credit on your key meter if one is installed, for example when going on holiday, the backup batteries in the alarm and emergency lights may discharge to such an extent that they are not recoverable. If this happens you will be responsible for their replacement.
Problems with a Saniflo
Where a Saniflo device is fitted in the property it is the responsibility of the tenants to maintain this and pay for clearance of any blockages or repairs. Failure of a Saniflo will invariably be due to improper usage, often where inappropriate items have been placed or dropped in the toilet pan. This might include sanitary items, rings, bottle tops etc. These items will most likely cause damage and failure. Where a repair is necessary the engineer will determine the cause of the problem.
Only good quality mattresses are provided with a 10 year minimum life span. Mattresses should be protected by the tenants by using a mattress protector or similar. Staining of mattresses is unacceptable and stained or otherwise damaged mattresses will be replaced at the tenants cost. Ask yourself 'would you be willing to sleep on someone else's filth'? The answer will almost certainly be no, so look after the mattress and if you don't then accept that you will have to pay for replacement.
Tenants are normally responsible for replacing broken glass windows. Should the breakage be related to some other problem with the building or some natural occurrence, the Landlord may accept responsibility but there would need to be clear evidence of the cause. A reason commonly given for a broken window is a bird flying into it. Birds do fly into windows but very rarely is the glass broken. Any associated repairs to the window frame will also have to be put right and redecoration done as necessary.
Gardens have to be kept in a well maintained and tidy condition. This does require work of varying extent depending on the size and type of garden, but regular work is essential. This is likely to be necessary throughout the year but particularly in the growing season. If tenants do not feel able to give a garden the necessary attention they are strongly advised to get someone in to do the work. There are many people who offer gardening services and cards are often dropped through the letterbox.
Where there is grass, a mower is provided, however this will only cope with grass that is cut regularly. If the grass is left to get too long it will be necessary to hire in special equipment or employ someone to cut it. Under these circumstances the lawn may be severely damaged and may required additional work to bring it back to a reasonable standard. Hedges and shrubs should also be cut regularly during the growing season. Similar to lawns, hedges and shrubs may be irreparably damaged if not cut regularly.
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