All tenancies should have a tenancy agreement. Here are five tips to help you.
1. Make sure you have the right tenancy agreement for your tenancy type.
For example is it
- a standard let of a whole flat or house
- a room in a shared house
- a tenancy where the landlord pays the bills
- a company let
- a let of the granny flat in your house
- a let where your tenant is allowed to keep a pet?
All of these need a different type of tenancy agreement or special clauses. See my free Which Tenancy Agreement Guide for more details.
2. Make sure it is a recent version.
That tenancy agreement that your father used in the 1970’s is well out of date.
You need to have the most recent version of the tenancy provided by your supplier. They should have a date on them somewhere – check to see it is not more than about 3 years old.
3. Don’t change your tenancy agreement without legal advice
Sometimes landlords think that tenancy agreements are drafted in a rather wishy washy tenant friendly way and change it to stiffen it up a bit. Don’t do this.
For example many clauses, including the prohibition against pets clause, should have some wording along the lines of ‘save with the consent of the landlord which will not be withheld unreasonably’. Don’t take this out, even if you know you will never give consent, as by doing this you will be invalidating the clause.
The wording does not mean that if the tenant asks permission to keep a pet that you HAVE to say yes. It just means that your refusal must be reasonable. Which it almost certainly will be. Otherwise why are you refusing permission?
Remember also that if you are not experienced in drafting documents it is easy to draft a clause in a way which is ambiguous or hard to follow. YOU know what it means but it may not be clear to anyone else. In which case it will probably be invalid under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.
4. Try to ensure that all adult occupiers are named on the tenancy agreement.
Otherwise you will not be able to sue them for rent arrears if they fail to pay.
If the identity of the tenants change you should issue a new tenancy agreement. Don’t allow a situation to develop where the tenants keep changing without being signed up to a new agreement.
In a shared house where the occupiers change frequently, you will probably be better off renting out the rooms on an individual basis (with shared use of the common parts).
By the way, adult children living with their parents do not necessarily need to be named if they are about to go off to college. It really depends on whether they will be contributing to the rent or not.
5. Make sure that the tenancy agreement is signed before the tenants are given the keys.
If you let them in first, they can then turn round and refuse to sign, and there is not a lot you can do about it.
You will then be without the protection of a tenancy agreement – which means for example that you will not be able to use the special accelerated procedure if you want to evict them under section 21.
If you are looking for a tenancy agreement >> click here for information about my tenancy agreements service.