Tenancy Agreements: Background Information for Landlords
An article providing background information for landlords on various tenancy issues.
What is a Tenancy Agreement and why do I need one?
A Tenancy Agreement is a legal contract entered into between you and your tenant(s) regulating the terms of their residence in the property you are renting. It is a written document that can be several pages long and that sets out certain rights, terms and conditions as well as your obligations to one another, for example your tenant's right to be in the property and your right to receive payment of the rent for renting out the property to the tenant(s). You and your tenant(s) might have reached agreement over certain matters relating to the tenancy and these will be part of the tenancy agreement as long as they do not conflict with the law. Both you and your tenant(s) have rights and responsibilities under the law.
The Tenancy Agreement can give both you and your tenant(s) more than the statutory rights implied by law but not less. A tenancy agreement contains both express terms and implied terms. ‘Express terms’ are the terms written into the Tenancy Agreement and ‘implied terms’ are rights created by law and implied into the tenancy. A Tenancy Agreement is needed to prevent costly disputes about the terms of the tenancy from arising. Also, if the tenant is claiming benefits, the benefits agency will require a copy of the Tenancy Agreement. The terms of the Tenancy Agreement can protect each party’s position and clarify each party’s intentions. If there is no Tenancy Agreement, you will not be able to evict your tenant via the Accelerated Possession Procedure (see A Legal Guide for Landlords).
What type of Tenancy Agreement will I need?
This depends on the type of property that you are letting. Many lettings are Assured Short-hold Tenancies that last a minimum of 6 months in duration. An Assured Short-hold Tenancy enables you to charge a market rent and provides you with a guaranteed right to have your property back at the end of the term.
What information should be in the Tenancy Agreement?
On a very basic level, the Tenancy Agreement sets out your obligations to the tenant(s) and the tenant(s) obligations to you in writing. Such obligations include when the tenancy starts (the date) and how long it shall run for (the duration); when the rent shall be due; who shall pay for utilities such as gas, electric and water; and the conditions of the tenancy, such as not allowing pets in the property.
When should I give my tenant the Tenancy Agreement?
Your tenant(s) must sign the Tenancy Agreement before moving into the property because once the tenant(s) reside in the property, they can refuse to sign and it can be very difficult for you to evict them.
Why should I regularly update my Tenancy Agreement(s)?
Using an out of date or invalid agreement (perhaps resulting from a change in the law) can have significant consequences for you. Should a dispute arise between you and your tenant(s), it may be increasingly difficult to evict the tenant(s) if the agreement is out of date resulting in the correct procedure not being followed.
If the Tenancy Agreement is in breach of any regulations, your tenant(s) may complain to the local Trading Standards Office or Office of Fair Trading about you.
What do I do if my tenant is in arrears for their rent?
You could negotiate a private agreement which should be set out in writing and signed by you and your tenant(s) ,for the tenant(s) to pay a set amount each week in addition to their usual rent. The tenant may be able to claim housing benefit under this arrangement, however, should this private agreement not work out, you can then take legal action to end the tenancy or seek a County Court judgement for the outstanding money. For a more detailed explanation please see A Legal Guide For Landlords.
What can I do about my noisy tenant(s)?
If your tenant(s) make a lot of noise and upset the neighbours or visitors to the area, you should write to them and ask them to stop their anti-social behaviour as they are in breach of the Tenancy Agreement. Should your letter not make an impact on your noisy tenant(s), you could contact your local council regarding the noise as they can send round a patrol to calm the situation. For a more detailed explanation please see A Legal Guide For Landlords.
How do I get my tenant(s) to leave the property?
There are legal procedures in place that you must follow, even if your tenant owes you rent or is being a nuisance. You must provide your tenant(s) with a written notice to leave and should that not have effect, you can seek a Possession Order from the court. For a more detailed explanation please see A Legal Guide For Landlords.
What do I do if I am letting via a letting agent, housing association or the council?
Look at your management/leasing agreement as this should state how to deal with any tenancy problems.
For a more detailed explanation please see A Legal Guide For Landlords.
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