Tenancy Agreements - Advice for Landlords & Tenants
If you are a landlord or a tenant you will most likely have signed a tenancy agreement at some stage. Sources of these are varied and can come from a Solicitor, Letting Agent, Newsagent or online.
Beware though, there are pitfalls for both landlord and tenant that can cause huge issues later on if the tenancy agreement is outdated or has any clauses that would be deemed to be unfair.
Both tenants and landlords should ensure that the agreement does not include anything which reduces the tenants rights in law as this will not be acceptable and may in fact reduce the usefulness of a tenancy in a court of law. (The Office of fair trading recently investigated tenancy agreements and deemed many to be unfair due to a whole range of issues that were simply not acceptable).
One important issue is the notice period that can be given to end a tenancy. This is very much set in law, and getting a tenant to sign something that reduces his/her legal rights would not be validated or upheld.
Example: We recently had a discussion with a landlord about altering the tenancy so that he could get possession back after 14 days in the event of non-payment of rent. We stated that this was not possible as he would not be able to enforce it. The landlord in question told us that another agent locally had said that they could alter the tenancy, and in fact their standard tenancy allowed them to gain possession without the need for a court order! Completely unlawful, badly misleading and dreadful advice for the landlord. Unfortunately he chose to believe the other agent and put the property with them, telling us that “obviously the bigger agent knew better!”
I hope for the landlord in the above case that he does not rely on this misleading information – as he could end up being prosecuted for unlawful eviction if he does not take the appropriate steps.
The vast majority of residential lets in England and Wales since 1997 use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (commonly known as an AST). First defined in the Housing Act of 1988 with changes in 1996 that meant that a tenancy created after 28th February 1997 was automatically a shorthold tenancy unless a special procedure was followed to create a different sort of tenancy.
Effectively this means that many tenancies, even if there is no written agreement will be an AST and therefore creates a default position in terms of the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant. This includes minimum rights to occupancy, notice periods etc etc.
Since there is no standard document available to create a tenancy, so you either have to draft one or buy an off the shelf copy.
The safest option is always to use a written agreement that is compliant with the law and to ensure that the tenant has ample time to read it and to take legal advice if required before signing.
REB Letting’s tenancy agreements
We take great care to ensure that we use the latest agreements available that are compliant with the law and carefully define the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant. This is always aimed to ensure that all parties are fully aware of their reponsibilities.