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Rental Enquiries:0800 525 184

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Tenant FAQsFrequently Asked Questions

Why rent?

Renting in retirement, especially on an Assured Tenancy, may be particularly beneficial in later life. It is unlikely that you will wish to take on another financial burden, such as a mortgage, and if you are a homeowner, selling your property outright on the open market means you release all your capital and are free to invest or spend the money in any way you choose.

What is an Assured Tenancy?

An Assured Tenancy is a contract between you and the Landlord which means you are entitled to stay in the property for as long as you wish. This is known as ‘Security of Tenure’. There is a minimum 12 month term, after that it is your choice when to leave after giving the required notice - you can stay for life if you wish.

What is the difference between an Assured Tenancy, an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and a Private Residential Tenancy?

Assured Tenancy (AT)

  • A long term tenancy with increased protection from eviction, provided you keep to the terms of the tenancy agreement.
  • An initial fixed term, the tenancy then automatically continues on a ‘periodic assured tenancy’ basis whereby the tenant may give the required notice to leave at any time.
  • The landlord can only regain possession by obtaining an order from the Court, if there is a breach of the contract by the tenant.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

  • A fixed term tenancy. Girlings landlords will normally offer between two and five year tenancies.
  • At the end of the fixed term, either a new tenancy will be negotiated and offered to you or the landlord may wish to regain possession.

Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) - Scotland

In Scotland all new tenancies must be a private residential tenancy. This replaced the assured and short assured tenancies in December 2017.

  • No fixed term.
  • The tenancy is brought to an end by the tenant giving notice or, the landlord obtaining an eviction order from the First-Tier Tribunal using one or more of the grounds set out in Schedule 3 of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.

The rent seems high compared to other flats and houses in the area. Why is this?

Retirement developments are purpose built and designed to provide comfort, security and peace of mind for the residents. You will benefit from services such as the provision of a House Manager; 24 hour emergency cover; the cleaning and upkeep of a residents’ lounge and other common areas; the upkeep and maintenance of the external areas to include the gardens; the external maintenance of the building; lift maintenance and buildings insurance. In addition, at some of the properties we let, the rent includes the cost of the water that you use. Furthermore, we offer an Assured Tenancy on most properties, giving long-term security of tenure to our tenants. For this reason, it is difficult to compare our rent levels with those of the non-retirement market, where fewer services are provided and the property is normally let for only 6 months at a time.

Is there a resident House Manager on site? What happens if there is an emergency during the night or at weekends?

The majority of retirement developments offer the services of a House Manager to look after the running of the development. Most work Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm and some live on site. The majority of developments switch to 24 hour Emergency Care i.e. Careline or similar when the House Manager goes off duty. All emergency calls are answered by trained operators who are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When the House Manager is off duty or unavailable, these operators will be in contact with the resident to establish the nature of the emergency and will call out the emergency services should this prove necessary.

How long can I stay in the property?

If you choose to take an Assured Tenancy you can stay in the property for life. There is a miminum term of one year, after which you may give the required notice to quit. The Landlord can only seek possession through the Courts.

If you rent on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy it will be agreed for a fixed term, usually one to five years and you have security of tenure for the agreed period. Thereafter the Landlord may require possession and can gain this by giving you 2 months’ notice. If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy you will be notified at least two months before the end of the agreed term. We will then ask you whether you would like to renew the tenancy or if you wish to leave at the end of the term. If your landlord does not wish to renew the agreement for a further term, we will do our best to find other suitable accommodation for you.

How old do I have to be?

All our properties have minimum age requirments. You are eligible if you are aged 60 years and over (in the case of a couple, one must be 60 and over and the other 55 and over). In some developments the minimum age is 55 years and in others there is a lower minimum age for the second occupant. Please note that some developments may apply different minimum age requirements.

Can I rent a retirement property through Girlings if I need Local Housing Allowance?

Yes. There is no obstacle to renting a property through Girlings if you need LHA (Local Housing Allowance). If you are considering moving into private rented accommodation, contact the local council for the current LHA rates for that area. Alternatively you may find it helpful to access the LHA website. This will give you a statement of the maximum rent that LHA will cover but will exclude any service charges which LHA cannot pay for. However, it will not calculate the actual amount of LHA you may be entitled to as it is means-tested and depends on your financial circumstances. To find out how much LHA you may be entitled to, you will have to give details of the size of accommodation you are looking to rent. Contact the Government’s Benefits Enquiry Line 0800 882 200 for further information or ring our Letting Centre on 0800 52 51 84 for help and advice.

What fees do I have to pay?

You will need to pay £200 including VAT to reserve a property.

  • This holds the property for you for up to four weeks while the tenancy is prepared.
  • It pays for the administration and production of your part of the tenancy agreement.
  • It covers our administration costs in obtaining and processing the required references
  • Girlings do not charge additional fees for multiple tenants or guarantors.

Referees may charge you for providing a reference and you should confirm this with them before providing their details to us.

In the unlikely event that you change your mind within seven days of reserving the property, the reservation fee will be refunded less a our handling costs of £50. After seven days, the reservation fee is non-refundable. Just before your tenancy starts we will require a tenancy deposit usually equal to a months' rent. We also ask for your rent in advance, which can be up to 6 weeks rent depending on your tenancy start date. If this is going to pose difficulties for you please call our Lettings Team to discuss your situation.

The landlord is responsible for fees relating to the inventory, check-in and check-out.

Amendments to existing tenancy agreements or replacement tenancy agreements are charged at £120 inclusive of VAT.

The freeholder may require you to apply for permission under various circumstances, for example, if you wish to keep a pet or if you wish make certain alterations to the property. This might involve a fee but the amount varies and you will need to confirm it with us in each instance.

Do I have to provide references?

Yes. For each tenant we usually ask for a bank status report, a medical reference from your GP, a personal reference from a friend or neighbour and a reference from your previous landlord (if applicable). We will also obtain a report from a recognised credit bureau, currently Equifax. To help us assess affordability, we may also require bank statements or other written evidence of your income including savings, pensions, or local housing allowance. We will also require a bank status report and an Equifax report for any guarantors. Referees may charge you for providing a reference and you should confirm this with them before providing their details to us.

What happens to my deposit?

Your deposit is held in a secure account and managed by Girlings. Girlings is a member of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and if you are renting your property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy your deposit will be registered with the scheme as required by law.

At the end of your tenancy we carry out an inspection to ensure the property is left in a clean and tidy order, as required by your tenancy agreement. In the majority of cases the deposit is returned within 14 days of the tenancy ending. If there is a requirement for repair and/or cleaning of the property then providing the tenancy agreement allows, the Landlord can request that an amount be withheld from the deposit. However, Girlings holds all deposits as ‘Stakeholder’ which means that any amount in dispute cannot be released unless agreed by both parties. If you do not agree with the Landlord about deposit deductions, then we are not able to return the amount until an agreement is reached. Any amount which is not disputed will be returned to you. If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, any dispute relating to your deposit will be passed to the Independent Case Examiner of the TDS for resolution.

How soon can I move in?

We normally expect a tenancy to start within four weeks of the property being reserved, subject to all the paperwork being completed promptly. We can move very swiftly and sometimes have tenancies start within days of reserving. On the other hand if the reserved property is still occupied by the outgoing tenant it may take a little longer to ensure the property is ready to be re-let.

Will someone be at the property to meet me when I move in?

We are in close communication with the House Manager who will greet you and show you around the development. He/she will explain the 24 hour emergency Careline system which is on hand to help you with any emergency which may arise whether medical or otherwise, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Do I have to insure my own contents?

Yes, as a tenant you are responsible for paying your own Contents Insurance. Please ensure this is arranged at the outset of the tenancy; remember you cannot insure property belonging to the Landlord.

Who pays the Council Tax?

As a tenant you are responsible for paying the Council Tax for the property (the local council may contact you as the occupier). You are also responsible for all personal bills e.g. telephone, electricity/gas and television licence (don’t forget you are entitled to a FREE television licence if you are aged 75 and over.)

Can I carry on working if I live in a retirement property?

Yes and many of our tenants do, be it on a paid or voluntary basis. But under the terms of the tenancy you are not permitted to run a business from the property.

If my circumstances change and I need to move closer to family can I move to another Girlings’ property? What do I need to do?

Yes. If you are on an Assured Tenancy and have been in residence for the initial 12 month term, you can reserve another Girlings’ property and move within 4 weeks. You will be required to pay another reservation fee, deposit and rent in advance, but once your old tenancy has come to an end and we have confirmed that the property has been left in good order, we will refund your deposit for your old tenancy. If a year has not elapsed some people may be prepared to pay dual rents for a period in order to secure the new property of their choice. For those tenants on Local Housing Allowance, it may be possible to apply for overlapping benefit for a limited period. We will aim to re-let the first property as quickly as possible so any responsibility towards that tenancy can be ended. Just pick up the phone to the Lettings team on 0800 525 184 who will talk you through the procedure.

What happens if I need more care?

Sometimes it is necessary for additional care to be provided. You may be taken ill or have an accident. Don’t worry, your tenancy will continue whilst you are in hospital or need a short time in a nursing home, as long as the rent continues to be paid. If you find that you need permanent additional care, there are ways to have this provided in your own home. Your local Social Services department can help with various support packages, and these may vary by area. Sometimes there is a waiting list for adaptations and these will be based on eligibility. You are most likely to be entitled to receive Attendance Allowance, a non means tested entitlement which pays £50 - £80 per week. We urge you to claim this with the help of your GP. In other cases you may find that you need to move to a residential care home. If this is the case and you wish to terminate your tenancy, you will need to confirm in writing that you wish to terminate your tenancy. The tenancy will then be brought to an end under the terms of the Agreement, which will normally be the last day of the following calendar month.

Is there any other help available to me if I am in difficulty?

Other help and advice is sometimes available from the RBL, SSAFA and other military organisations. The RBL Women’s Section Allowance is an annuity of £25.00 per week, provided on a quarterly basis and granted to ex-Service personnel, wives and widows/widowers of ex-Service personnel who are over 60 and live alone, who are on a very low income or are in real hardship owing to age, ill-health or other difficulties. Women and men under 60 may qualify for this allowance if they are in receipt of a disability allowance. Please note your Local Housing Allowance will not be affected if you are granted this Allowance. Also remember to apply for Attendance Allowance, a non-means tested entitlement which pays around £48 - £71 per week. Your GP should be able to help you with this claim. Social services may pay if you need adaptations to the property, for example, grab rails or a walk-in shower to replace a bath.

What happens if I die as the sole tenant?

A tenancy, like many other legal contracts, does not automatically end on the death of one of the parties. Your Estate will be required to serve notice that the tenancy is to end, and make arrangements to clear the property of your possessions. Once the tenancy has ended and the property is handed back in good order, your deposit will be returned to your appointed representatives.

Can I stay in the property if my partner dies or needs extra care?

Your tenancy agreement is always made out in the names of both parties (if applicable). An Assured Tenancy gives security of tenure for life, so if one of you dies the surviving spouse/partner can continue to live in the property for as long as they wish with no further agreement to be made. If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy the surviving partner has the same right to continue the tenancy for the agreed term.

If you wish for a new partner/spouse to live with you in the property and they are not on the tenancy agreement, we will need to obtain references for them and a new tenancy agreement will have to be signed, with an additional fee.

Can I bring my pet with me?

Yes you can, although permission is needed from the Managing Agent for which a fee is payable and you will need to sign a Pet Agreement. One of the terms of the Agreement is to not exercise pets on the grounds of the developments and this can be a problem for people with cats that like to go outside. It is worth emphasising that you are living within a retirement development which is designed to provide peace of mind, security and independence to all who live there. It will be your responsibility to ensure that your pet is well mannered, well trained and not likely to cause a nuisance to other residents within the development.

What about car parking? Will I have my own space?

Most developments have car parking although the car parking policy can differ from development to development; some developments operate allocated parking on a ‘first come, first served’ policy, and some have no set policy. We are happy to enquire about car parking on your behalf; however we cannot guarantee that you will be allocated a space. It is worth noting that the majority of retirement developments are situated close to local shops and amenities, with public transport easily accessible. Many have a bus stop just outside the entrance and some developments are on the ‘free’ local supermarket bus route.

Can I attend residents’ meetings?

Yes. As a tenant you are a resident and so may attend residents’ meetings although the Landlord has the voting right.

Can my family and friends come and stay with me overnight?

Yes. The majority of retirement developments have a Guest Suite which is available for a small charge and booked through the House Manager. These are usually very well appointed; with television, tea and coffee making facilities and ensuite bathroom, so your family and friends can enjoy visiting you in comfort. You can take advantage of this yourselves should you wish to visit family or friends in another town and take a short break in another development. You are only permitted to have guests stay in your property with you for a maximum of 14 consecutive nights without permission of the Landlord/Agent.

Are there lifts in the developments?

Lifts are available in the majority of developments where there are two or more floors. If you feel this is a requirement then please call our Lettings Team on 0800 525 184 who will be happy to advise.

Are there communal areas?

Yes. The majority of developments offer a residents’ lounge, laundry and communal gardens. The upkeep and maintenance of these areas is included in your rent.

Can I buy one of the properties?

This may be possible. If you are interested in purchasing a property, which is advertised for rent, then please contact our Lettings Team on 0800 525 184 who will be happy to talk through all available options.

Can I smoke in the property?

Please contact our Lettings Team on 0800 525 184 who will be happy to discuss this with you.

Girlings Retirement Rentals Limited

Glanville House, Frobisher Way, Taunton, Somerset TA2 6BB

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