Understanding tenancy agreements for renting a house

Tenancy agreements are often misunderstood between tenants and landlords, but they are simply an agreement between two parties on what you can and can’t do while living in the property.  The key premise is a mutual agreement of understanding regarding the terms of living in the property. Tenancy agreements will outline the duration of the tenancy and payment terms, but also some other covenants that are often not read by tenants.  Likewise, landlords will use tenancy agreements that make no sense and are outdated, so no wonder tenant’s don’t bother to read them, but tenants should, and ask for clarification if parts of the agreement don’t make sense.

So what does a good tenancy agreement look like and what should you be concerned about?  All rental properties must adhere to government regulation under the UK Housing Acts and must be considered an “Assured Shorthold Tenancy” (AST).  Newly written Long Lease Agreements are of course different, typically written by a solicitor, and can range anywhere from 999 years to 125 years.  

Here are a few key points that must be mentioned in an Assured Shorthold Agreement:

  • Tenancy duration (typically less than 12 months)
  • Payment terms (weekly, monthly, six months in advance, etc)
  • Tenant’s name and all “permitted occupiers” of the property
  • Name of the landlord and their agents (if stated)
  • Description of the Premises (including use garden or shed if allocated)
  • Amount of Deposit (must be stored in a government ran Deposit Protection Scheme - DPS)
  • Inventory checklist (photos of the property when received)

The basics are what most tenants and landlords tend to focus on but there are other covenant that are of importance.  Below are some points that tenants should make sure they understand and don’t overlook.

  • Interest on late payments
  • When can rent increases arise?
  • How and when is money collected for damage to the property?
  • Right of access and notice given for the landlord to enter
  • Are pets allowed in the property?
  • What is normal wear and tear?
  • Garden maintenance required
  • Who pays council tax, services, tv licence, etc.?
  • Decorating or painting the interior walls
  • Can you hang TVs or pictures on the walls?
  • Loss of keys and changing the locks
  • Is smoking in the house permitted?

These are just a few things to seek clarity on in a tenancy agreement with your landlord.  There are rights for tenants and advice can be provided by Citizen’s Advice or a solicitor.  Tenancy agreements must not restrict tenants from the “right to pleasure and enjoyment of the property”. Tenant have further rights that try to stop landlords from discrimination.  But in the end, if challenges arise it’s important for both parties to work together to reach an agreement that may not be clearly outlined in the tenancy agreement.  Early communication is key for all (business) relationships!

Posted 257 weeks ago

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