What fees do you charge tenants?
We charge a £500 reservation fee to our tenants, this upon the start of a tenancy is converted to a £320 deposit and a £180 (including VAT) admin fee.
Why do you charge a fee?
We have reduced the deposit to mean that the fee plus the deposit is the same as the deposit last year therefore no greater call on cash.
There is a brand new insurance package that will be included with the rent that is partly funded from this.
Students are increasingly demanding higher standards and there is more statutory requirements, therefore in order to meet rising demands and more legislation we feel that the only way to deal with this is to levy a charge, so as to ensure that we have the right amount of highly trained staff in place to deal with the rising expectations of both tenants and the law.
Clause 24 of the 2015 Finance Act will put a greater burden on landlords.
What makes Bill Free Homes different to other companies in Durham?
We are an Award Winning local company that strive ourselves on the service we provide to our tenants during their tenancy. A large percentage of our tenants stay with us for more than one year and a vast number of new tenants come to us through recomendations from their friends or colleges. We provide luxury student accommodation throughout Durham City.
In 2013 we won Silver in the Times/Sunday Times Student Letting Agency of the Year, and in 2014 we went one better to win Gold and to be named the Student Letting Agency of the Year 2014 and again in 2015. We have won quite a few awards over the past few years which is great, however we use the awards to allow us to benchmark against other companies and ultimately improve our service.
Some of us want to go Bill Free and others in our house don't what can we do?
Most houses are let jointly and severally so it's all or nothing we are afraid. We are happy to let the house with you paying the bills or with us doing so but there is no half way house. A few properties let rooms on an individual basis- you could send your friends there!
Surely it is unfair to charge a flat rate to all tenants as some will use more than others?
To an extent this is true - there will always be a degree of cross subsidisation but you will find it very difficult to guarantee that all your bills are paid every week for the price of a round of drinks! Doing it this way cuts down on in house friction and happier houses get more work done!
What does the 24 hour call out insurance cover?
There is a full explanation in the terms and conditions page - but in brief it is anything that stops the house functioning or could cause damage to the fabric of the house. Total loss or heating- water leak broken locks etc. if you have two toilets and one is broken it's bad luck, if they are both broken it's an emergency. We feel that with our emergency repair scheme we can get repairs done much quicker than via your landlord, who will of course still take on non urgent repairs!
We are first years and want to secure our accommodation for next year as soon as possible, when can we sign up?
Our main letting period is December to March, some agents let properties to first years in October. We are responsible student landlords we recognise that you are eager to secure your home for next year but would caution you against rushing into agreements too early. The number one rule is know your housemates! We don't want to have to get involved with substituting house mates a few weeks into your contract. Choose your housemates as wisely as you choose your house and you will not go far wrong! You are welcome to view at any time and we can discuss any proposal but we do advocate caution.
We think that the bills package is a little high how do you arrive at this figure?
We are all experienced landlords and we are householders too. Our service utilities provider Glide have given us massive discounts on rates for gas and electricity as has Cover4Students our insurance partner - we are passing these savings on to you. Just think a tv licence cut four ways costs 64p per person per week, sometimes you can forget with all of these cheap adverts for broadband you still have to have a BT phone line on top. Cut four ways this will be another 95p just for the line rental, the market is a wash with cheap looking broadband deals which are usually for 18 or 24 months and come with usage caps- it all adds up!
We think we offer a great deal but you do not have to go bill-free. You can take the chance, count the pennies and argue over the bills each quarter if you wish! We know it works and would urge you to go down the bill-free route!
How do I go about letting one of your properties- they look great?
Can our hotline number 0330 330 0999 giving the details of the house, or request a viewing by clicking on the Request a Viewing link on each property - the landlord will then contact you to show you round and, if you are happy, give you a lease which you can get checked out and then make an arrangement to sign up - pay your deposit and you are in!
We are already in one of your houses and want to stay a second year - how do we sort that?
Contact us as early as you can to resign the lease- if you have lived together already we don't mind signing you up early but we will want the lease signing before taking it off the market.
Are all houses cleaned before we move in?
We ask that all departing tenants clean the properties to a Grade A standard and we provide our tenants with sample cleaning kits to help them on their way. If a property is graded a B or a C, then cleaners will be dispatched to the house and we will ask the departing tenants to pay for this cost.
What is PAT testing?
Portable appliance testing is an annual test done on electrical appliances over 1 year old to test that they are safe. It is not a legal requirement as is the 5 yearly electrical safety test, but we feel that even though no harm is likely to come of having a faulty appliance as it will blow a fuse if problematic, we need to be absolutely sure that you are safe. We expect that it will become law soon as it seems to us a very sensible thing to do.