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Private Rented Accommodation Tenancy Agreements


Tenancy Agreements

All landlords and tenants/licensees have certain rights and responsibilities even if they are not written into an agreement. It is good practice to have a written tenancy agreement which clarifies the terms and conditions of the letting and can avoid any future misunderstandings over who is responsible. Certain rights for both landlords and tenants/licensees are set out in legislation that applies to a particular type of tenancy or licence you have. It is important that both parties adhere to the conditions set down in the tenancy.

The most common type of tenancy is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy. If a tenant breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement, the landlord could require possession on the property. The Assured Shorthold Tenancy gives the tenant basic legal entitlements including: preventing other people including the landlord from freely entering your home, the right to stay in your home until the landlord gets a Court Order and also the right to be given your landlord’s name and address.

Your landlord must also provide you with the following information:

• The start date of the tenancy
• The amount of rent and the date you have to pay it
• How and when the rent may be changed
• The length of any fixed term tenancy ( minimum 6 months)

We would also strongly advise drawing up an inventory when renting a property even if the property is unfurnished.

Right to Rent

The law surrounding who is eligible to rent a property in England has changed. The changes affect tenancies granted to private tenants which started on or after 1 February 2016, including people who sublet or take in lodgers. The Right to Rent regulations mean that you’ll have to show that you have a right to rent property if:

• you’re starting a new tenancy
• there’s a break in your tenancy

You need to provide documentary evidence to your landlord or letting agent to prove that you have the right to live and rent in England without restriction. This affects you and any other adults living in the property. Without such evidence you will be unable to legally rent a property.

For further information about the changes and details of acceptable evidence please click here.

Section 21 notices

The law changed on 1 October 2015. For a section 21 notice of eviction to be valid it is important that a landlord meets the requirements set out in The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 and also the amendment to the schedule set out in The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a series of rental ‘how to’ guides. These include checklists for new and existing tenants, landlords and letting agents on their rights and responsibilities and are available here.

A model agreement for an assured shorthold tenancy is available here.

Your responsibilities as a tenant

It is important to keep to the terms of the tenancy agreement or you will risk losing your home. It is important that you:

• Pay the rent when it is due
• Take care of the property
• Do not cause a nuisance

If your landlord has issued you with a section 21 notice of eviction and you are unsure whether or not it is valid you can check here.

Your landlord’s responsibilities

If you are a tenant the landlord’s responsibilities will include the following:

• To maintain the property in a safe condition and good state of repair
• Ensure the safety of gas and electrical appliances and carrying out regular checks
• To not disturb you unnecessarily; should the landlord or the agent need to inspect the property you should receive written notice of this request
• Follow the correct legal procedure should the landlord require their property back
• Register the deposit in a tenancy deposit protection Scheme

If you are experiencing issues with repairs not being fixed quickly, consider the Fixflo website where both tenants and landlords receive a written audit trail of all reported issues.

Deposits and Rent in Advance

A private landlord may require a deposit before you move in to cover non-payment of rent or damage to the property. Most landlords will charge a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent together with a month’s rent in advance (some landlords may require six weeks rent in advance).

There may be a rent deposit guarantee or bond scheme in your area if you are having problems finding money for a deposit. Your local council can give you further details if this is available.

With effect from April 2007 there are specific rules about holding of deposits and the landlord must protect your deposit by using an approved scheme.

The landlord must advise the tenant within 14 days of the tenancy starting which scheme they have registered the deposit with. Further information regarding deposits is available here.

Before Moving in

Before moving in you should complete a budgeting form to ensure that you can afford the rent and service charges. There is a helpful online budget calculator available on the Money Advice website.

If you are in receipt of local housing allowance you will need to check the local housing allowance rates at www.voa.gov.uk.