Given keys to move in but no contract yet.

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    Given keys to move in but no contract yet.

    Can't seem to find anything on the web about this, and this seems like the best place to ask.

    I'm the tenant, renting privately. We're in a bit of a rush to move as my partner starts uni in Sept and want our daughter to settle in too.

    We visited the property two weeks ago with the previous tenant still present and paid a holding deposit.
    We returned a couple of days ago to pick up the keys and pay the rest of the deposit, 1st mo rent + 'admin fee'. I had also expected to sign the AST contract at this point, but was told that was what the admin fee was for and it'd take a week or two to get drafted up. Receipts were given at each point, although nothing overly official, more like signed notes.
    We were then left in the property by the landlord as we were planning how to move items in and where they would go. We plan to move within the next week.

    What rights do we currently have as tenants without a signed contract?
    Could he potentially just change the locks before/after our move in date, leaving us a serious sum down?

    We would have prefered to rent via an agency. However, as I'm self employed most in the area wouldn't touch us w/o 6mo upfront rent + deposit.

    Any information would be great, thanks.

    #2
    Assuming this is an assured short hold tenancy in England or Wales, I wouldn't worry. You have a tenancy ( as soon as you move in) and although a written contract is useful it is not essential. The fact you have paid deposit,cetc and been given keys is in your favour (should there ever be any dispute, which I doubt). Just move in.

    Make sure they protect your drposit and that the contract when itvfinalky appears, has the correct start date on it.
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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      #3
      I hope the landlord is actually the landlord.
      Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

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        #4
        mind the gap,

        It's in England. Thanks for the advice! He did say that it'd be protected by a scheme.
        Everything seems above board but doesn't stop me worrying!

        Originally posted by thesaint View Post
        I hope the landlord is actually the landlord.
        Me too! Although if not then the previous tenant was in on it, so were the neighbours (we spoke to those a seperate day when we visited the property to check access for the van w/o the landlord). He's also spent a fair bit of money repairing a couple of issues, getting in decorators and getting the carpets cleaned (which we've seen happening and completed) - all of which probably amounted to the same as the deposit so a conman would have had nothing to gain if they weren't the landlord.

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          #5
          If he is indeed the landlord, then you are in a better position by not having a signed tenancy agreement in my opinion.
          If you refused to sign, then he would have difficulty enforcing any special terms. He is foolish to do what he has done.
          Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

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            #6
            The point about the landlord being the landlord is a valid one, but you can check on the land registry very cheaply to see who owns the property. (Should be the same as the LL in this case). Also ring your local council and ask whether they have any record of him as a landlord (they won't necessarily, as he may only have the one property and if it isn't an HMO he may not need to be on the records. But if he has any HMOs he should be in their sights).

            Have you had sight of a written tenancy contract (this should bear the LL's name and address)? Ask the landlord for the contact details of the person who is drafting this so you can read a specimen copy. They will not be drafting it line by line - they will be adapting a specimen one. Ask to see the specimen. If he gets shifty and says not possible, be wary. The person he is employing should be legally qualified and can be checked out quite easily - probably more easily than the LL himself.

            Arguably, if this guy is out to defraud multiple prospective tenants, he would have produced a fake tenancy contract in advance, to make it all look more plausible. The fact that he hasn't does in fact support the possibility that he is incompetent rather than criminal!

            The fact that he is redecorating, etc., does not necessarily guarantee his authenticity, because sometime scammers (usually tenants or subtenants pretending to be the LL) do these things, set up fabricated tenancy agreements with lots of different prospective Ts (relieving them of deposits, holding fees etc, etc,) only to disappear with the money and leaving the new 'tenants' with no right to move in. That's not a common scenario in this country, however. It happens a lot in the USA apparently - my son nearly fell victim to it last year. (Saw a lovely flat on a property website like zoopla, was offered it over the phone but when he insisted on viewing it first, he was fobbed off - they wanted him to pay a load of money and move in next day. He walked away only to meet at least one other person who had been offered it on the same terms at the same time).

            I agree with the saint about the idiocy of any landlord who lets you move in without signing a contract first, but that doesn't help you if you think there is a good chance he is a scammer.

            I'd check out the LL in any way you can, but not worry unduly.
            'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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