A financial commitment will be required by a Landlord before a property can be reserved for you. This can take two forms:
A holding deposit is paid by a prospective tenant so that a property can be removed from the market while references are taken up. A holding deposit is generally non-refundable if you change your mind about taking a property or if your references fall short. It will be refunded if the Landlord changes their mind about letting the property.
This is an important point to remember. If a Landlord changes their mind before a tenancy is signed all they are required to do is refund the holding deposit; scant compensation for a group of students with nowhere to live at the start of term. This situation can arise when some of the group are away on holiday over the summer or live some distance away and the signing of the Tenancy Agreement is left until the day that they all meet up to move in.
Even if it has to be done through the post try and get the Tenancy Agreement signed as soon as possible.
Different landlords have different interpretations of the word “retainer”. The most common form of retainer is a non-refundable sum of money, calculated as a percentage of the rent, paid by a prospective tenant to a Landlord to hold a property for them over the summer months leading up to the start of the academic year. Retainers are generally only used with student accommodation.
The retainer period forms part of the contract even though you are probably not going to want to occupy the property during this period. The quid pro quo to the Landlord is that he has access to carry out certain maintenance works to the property during the retainer period. The normal retainer payment is 50% of a calendar months rent.