Tenants

No - Chestertons Gibraltar do not charge the tenant any fees for entering into a tenancy contract.

Ordinarily, rents are paid by standing order or by bank transfer into our client account or by cheque directly brought or posted to our office. You may pay by cash but only if there is a valid reason for doing so, for example you are paid in cash. It is not possible to pay by credit card.

No - you have to contact your bank and arrange for a standing order to be set up from your account payable to Chestertons.

No - client monies are held in non-interest bearing accounts.

No - this is a breach of your tenancy agreement.

Legally no but we recommend that you take out an occupier’s liability policy and contents cover where you have your own possessions at the rented property. We recommend that you speak with a local insurance broker.
It can be any length as agreed by landlord and tenant. The norm is 12 months. Sometimes, a landlord agrees to 6 months.
A break clause may be negotiated by the tenant or landlord or both parties, but it must be agreed by both parties prior to signing the tenancy agreement. It is a term which may be negotiated.

No - unlike the UK there is no formal scheme. Your letting agent should hold the tenant deposit in a properly ring-fenced client account (as per Estate Agents’ Code of Conduct requirements). Letting agents are not regulated in Gibraltar and where a tenant deposit is held is not checked. Chestertons hold all tenant deposits in a ring-fenced client account and this account is reconciled weekly.

Where we do not manage the property but find the tenant for the landlord the deposit is most likely held by the landlord although we do not recommend this.

The deposit remains the tenants' money at all times during the tenancy and should not be used to subsidise either the landlord's or the agent's outgoings or expenditure other than by specific mutual agreement (with the tenant) or by express provision of a clause in the tenancy agreement. Some agents do not operate this policy (contrary to the law and standard convention, so be careful).
Landlords should read their landlord agent agreement and tenants should read their tenancy agreement to establish on what basis the letting agent holds the tenant deposit. The agreements should include details of how the deposit will be dealt with at the end of tenancy, including the circumstances or criteria or procedure for its refund. We do not recommend to tenants that a landlord holds the tenant deposit in any circumstances.
A tenant deposit held by Chestertons is held "as stakeholder between the parties". The Estate Agents’ Code of Conduct states that “A deposit is entrusted to you [the letting agent] for safekeeping as stakeholder and should not be renamed or disguised as an introducer’s fee or other brokerage fee.” It is of critical importance to both tenant and landlord that this is understood. Talk to us if you have any questions or concerns.
An agent holding a deposit as stakeholder is holding the deposit in a quasi-trustee position on behalf of both landlord and tenant. The agreement of both landlord and tenant must be obtained (in writing) as to how the deposit is to be disbursed. In the event of a dispute the agent as stakeholder retains the deposit (or the disputed part of it) until the dispute is settled. Chestertons holds tenant deposits as “stakeholders”.
A deposit held by an agent "as agent for the landlord" has, ultimately, to be refunded or apportioned on the landlord's instructions or by the agent under the landlord’s authority. Every reasonable endeavour should be made by the agent to ensure that this process is fair and equitable and supported by appropriate documentation so that a landlord (or his agent) does not take unlawful advantage. Chestertons hold tenant deposits as ‘stakeholder’ not as ‘agent’.
It is negotiable between landlord and tenant but it will typically be the equivalent of between one or two month’s rent.
All estate agents involved in the letting business in Gibraltar must have a Business Licence (otherwise they are trading illegally) issued by the Office of Fair Trading. The Code of Conduct requires that all agreements (landlord agent and tenancy agreement) are in writing and that client monies are held in client accounts. There are no specific provisions in respect of the letting business.
There is no legal definition of fair wear and tear although the House of Lords (UK) defined fair wear and tear as: “Reasonable use of the premises by the Tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”, which is only averagely helpful.

Yes - the longer the tenancy, the more natural wear and tear to be expected.  Furthermore, the more occupants there are, the higher the wear and tear in all the communal areas, such as the lounge, hall, bathrooms and kitchen.  A property occupied by children or pets will undoubtedly encounter more wear and tear than that of an absent tenant.  The landlord must accept this additional wear and tear if he consents to a high number of occupants, or children and pets.

Fair wear and tear does not apply to cleanliness.  A standard tenancy agreement should ensure that the property is returned in its original state of cleanliness (it does not have to be better than its original state).  If it’s not, the landlord can use the tenant deposit to fund such a clean.

No - whilst the tenant has a duty of care to return the property in the same condition at the end of the tenancy as found at the start (allowing for wear and tear) as listed on the inventory report, the law does not allow landlords to claim ‘betterment’ or ‘new for old’ from the tenant’s deposit.  The tenant deposit is absolutely not a “new for old” insurance policy.

Betterment is a process whereby landlords use the tenant deposit improperly to replace an old fixture or fitting with a new item at the tenant’s expense.
To avoid “betterment”, there is a technique called apportionment.  Apportionment is the process of breaking down the costs of ‘fair wear and tear’ into measurable chunks and thereby allowing a landlord to fairly assign a monetary value to items albeit in a subjective process. For example, if the tenant starts a tenancy with a 3 year old sofa, expected to last 8 years in total, and at the end of the tenant’s 2 year tenancy the sofa is damaged beyond repair not through wear and tear, the landlord has suffered the loss of the remaining 3 year expected 8 year life of the sofa.  So the tenant must pay three eighths of the replacement cost of a like for like sofa.
An inventory is a detailed list of all the fixtures, fittings, appliances and other landlord items found within the property. The quality of the inventory is of paramount importance to both the tenant and landlord in order to avoid a tenant deposit dispute at the end of the tenancy. We are confident that Chestertons’ inventory process is the best available in Gibraltar.
The schedule of conditions is the detailed recording of the conditions of the inventory items and a record of the cleanliness of the property and the general items is also recorded.
The worst disputes arise when there is no inventory or schedule of condition undertaken at the start of the tenancy which is agreed by both landlord and agent.  Photographic evidence is hugely advantageous.  Being able to refer to such a document with photographic evidence at the end of the tenancy helps everyone know where they stand.  Landlords and tenants should insist on one as it protects them both. At Chestertons, this is standard.
The ‘check-in’ is the process by which the landlord or agent introduce the tenant to the property at the time of moving in. The keys are handed over and the inventory is completed together with recording the condition of the property at that time. A check-in is often called a “meet and great”.

The ‘check-out’ is the process by which the landlord or agent inspect the property with the tenant (wherever possible) on or before the final day of the occupancy. The keys are handed back and the inventory is completed together with recording the condition of the property at that time.

The tenant should have removed all personal items, placed all landlord fixtures and fittings back in the same place that they were at check-in and the property should be in the same (or better) state of cleanliness as it was at the time of check-in. The tenant should be ready to hand back the keys and sign the utility disconnection forms.

The landlord (or his agent) must check the final condition and inventory of the property and compare it with the opening inventory. Photographs or other evidence must be provided to support any claim on the tenant deposit by the landlord. Any issues must be highlighted to the tenant. The landlord (or his agent) must then document their findings to the tenant which should justify any proposed deductions from the tenant deposit.

Allowed deductions are unpaid rent (or utility bills), damage (not fair wear and tear), missing items (replacement cost not new for old) and reasonable costs incurred to return the property to the state of cleanliness that it was on the starting day of the tenancy. Tenants should be careful to avoid additional rental charges where the property is not ready for re-letting at the end of the tenancy. For example, if it takes the landlord (or agent) 7 days following the end of the tenancy to remedy tenant defaults then the landlord may be able to charge an additional 7 days rent to the tenant. Chestertons provide a fully itemised statement at check-out for landlord’s and tenant’s approval.