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Tenancy agreements

A tenancy agreement is a legal contract between a landlord and a tenant

Both landlords and tenants should understand their rights and their obligations under the agreement.

Landlords should always:

Although landlords can draw up their own agreement this is not usually advisable.

Drafting tenancy agreements without legal advice may result in landlords finding they have actually made their position worse in the very areas where they were seeking to protect themselves.

It is far better to use one of the many excellent standard tenancy agreements which are available from landlord accreditation schemes, landlord associations, law stationers, or the many online services available for landlords. Landlords wishing to alter the terms of a standard agreement should seek specialist advice.

What should appear in a tenancy agreement

Tenancy agreements - points to remember

With effect from 1st October 2015, at the start of a new tenancy, the landlord should provide a tenant with certain documents:

The landlord should supply these documents at the start of each new tenancy (or as soon as possible thereafter). If these documents have not been supplied, the landlord cannot serve a section 21 'notice requiring possession'. As soon as the landlord supplies these documents this restriction will be removed.

These regulations have been introduced as part of the Deregulation Act 2015 and also include requirements around tenant complaints to the local authority and possible 'retaliatory' evictions by the landlord. This type of action could also render a Section 21 notice invalid. Landlords are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these changes to avoid possible problems.

Landlords should also be aware that:

Right to Rent checks

From 1st February 2016, for all new tenancies the landlord must undertake a Right to Rent check on all adults who will be living in the property being rented - this includes sub-lets and for lodgers.  The checks require landlords to verify the immigration status of prospective tenants and lodgers before they move in, to avoid the liability for a civil penalty (fine)

The process is straightforward and can be carried out quickly - landlords in the West Midlands have been making these checks since October 2014.  Copies of the evidence, for example a passport or a biometric residence permit, must be retained by the landlord.

If a tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can request a Home Office Right to Rent check which will be returned within two working days.

Landlords who employ a letting agent to manage their properties should satisfy themselves that these checks are being carried out as part of the service they receive. Civil penalties (fines) of up to £3000 per tenant can be levied on landlords by the Home Office where these new rules are not complied with.

On 1st December 2016, two further changes were introduced:

The GOV.UK website has more information and guidance about the scheme, the penalties and a code of practice for landlords (see Useful links).

Tenancy agreements - end of the tenancy

Landlords should be aware of legislation to protect tenants who are renting properties where consent has not been given by a mortgage company.  The document - Guidance to the Mortgage Repossessions, Protection of Tenants Act 2010 is available in useful links.