Tenancy agreement problems (and how to avoid them)

Tenancy agreement problems (and how to avoid them)
The tenancy agreement is one of the most important documents for both landlords and tenants.

It outlines the certain rights to both landlord and tenant as well as details on the length of the tenancy, rent, other services and notice periods.

Landlords using a letting agent to either find tenants or fully manage their property can rest assured their tenancy agreements are comprehensive and clearly set out.

But for landlords self-managing, tackling and drafting a tenancy agreement can sometimes cause problems.

Firstly, let's look at tenancy agreements in more detail...

Express terms

Essentially, express terms of a tenancy agreement are those made in the agreement and often above and beyond a landlord and tenant's statutory rights.

A written tenancy agreement should include:

  *  The tenant(s) name(s) and the landlord's name
  *  The address of the property being let
  *  The start date of the tenancy
  *  Any details of other people using the property and on what basis
  *  The length of the tenancy
  *  The monthly rent amount, how often it should be paid and how
  *  What else is included in the rent, i.e council tax, utility bills etc
  *  Details of other services provided and the charges (if any) for these, i.e gardening, cleaning.
  *  The amount of notice required for either the landlord or tenant to end the tenancy

Implied terms

These obligations may not be included in the tenancy agreement but are obligations included in law.

So, even though they may not be set out in a written tenancy agreement, they still form part of the contract between landlord and tenant.

Those terms could include:

  *  Carrying out basic repairs to water supply, gas, electricity, sanitation and heating
  *  The tenant's right to peaceful enjoyment of the property, without harassment from the landlord
  *  The tenant's obligation to not cause damage to the property
  *  The tenant's obligation to provide access to the property for repair work

Any tenancy agreement that provides fewer rights to either a landlord or tenant than those set out in law is a fake tenancy agreement.

Tenancy agreement templates

As with everything online, there are a host of downloadable tenancy agreements available to self-managing landlords.

But beware: These agreements may not be suitable for you and some may not be legal.

Private rental sector legislation is changing all the time and, thus, tenancy agreements produced by lettings agents are kept up-to-date with the latest changes in law.

Downloadable agreements may be out of date.

As an example, since the tenant fees ban came into force in June, landlords and lettings agents are no longer allowed to charge tenants fees for things like credit checks, inventory and check-in charges and tenancy renewals (unless the tenancy started before June 1st 2019).

Tenancy agreement templates available online may still contain terms on fees which are now illegal.

And landlords seen to be charging them could face fines of up to £5,000 if it's a first offence - and an unlimited fine if they've done it before.

Common problems with tenancy agreements

Not having a written agreement!

Legally, it's not a requirement to have a written tenancy agreement between a landlord and a tenant.

But without one, it's one person's word against another.

So, it's definitely NOT a good idea to shake hands on a verbal agreement and that's that.

The wrong type of tenancy agreement

Is your property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, a non-Assured Shorthold Tenancy or an Excluded Tenancy?

Do you even know?

If not, then you could be using the wrong kind of tenancy agreement.

Most tenancies in the UK are Assured Shorthold Tenancies, but if your tenant has their main home elsewhere or you live in the property, too, you could require a non-Assured Shorthold Tenancy or an Excluded Tenancy.

Agreements that aren't signed

Whenever you issue a tenancy agreement, it should be signed by both yourself and your tenant - before they move in.

A tenancy agreement that is unsigned may mean your tenants are not bound by the terms within.

Incorrect dates

All tenancies should have a start date and an end date and these should be clear on the tenancy agreement.

If they're not, or they are incorrect, this could cause problems if and when you need to regain possession of your rental property.

Missing out occupiers

Anyone over the age of 18 who is living at your rental property should be on the tenancy agreement.

Otherwise there can be issues if the person who signed the agreement moves out and the remaining occupiers remain having not signed.

Tenancy agreements through lettings agents

A letting agent's tenant find or fully managed services, such as those offered by Whitegates, means your tenants will sign an up-to-date and fully legal tenancy agreement - meaning greater piece of mind for you as a landlord.

Get in touch with your local Whitegates branch to find out more about how we can help manage your buy to let properties.

If you're looking to rent out a property, chat to one of our lettings experts who would be happy to help.