Letting Tenancy Agreements
When renting a property in the United Kingdom, it is important to familiarise yourself with standard procedures and documentation. This way both you and your landlord will be meeting legal obligations, and will thus have protection from the rights these afford.
The main thing to ensure when renting a property is that there will be a tenancy agreement in place. This is a legal document that details all aspects of the rental property and the terms of the tenancy. The document should include things such as the property address, the names of the tenant and landlord, as well as the landlord’s address. The document should specify the type and length of the tenancy, the amount and frequency of rental payments and any conditions such as maintenance of gardens. If a security deposit is to be paid, this needs to be documented, as it will be refunded at the end of the tenancy.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is the most common type of tenancy contract in the United Kingdom. The document should be prepared, checked and signed by both the tenant and the landlord in the presence of an independent witness in advance of the tenancy. As outlined above, the document should specify all terms of the tenancy, including the amount of rent payable and the duration. Most Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements last for six months or one year, and the tenant is liable for all rent payments during this time, unless the agreement is terminated.
During the period of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, the landlord is not allowed to increase the rent amount specified in the contract. At the end of the fixed term, the landlord may change the rent as they wish. When the end of a tenancy agreement approaches, it is important to consider whether you will be moving on, or whether you would like to stay in the property. Discuss your plans with your letting agent or landlord so that you can establish if it is possible to continue renting the property. If it is, a new Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement will be needed, and it is possible that the landlord may increase the rent.
A required notice period should be specified in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement so that if either party needs to terminate the contract, they are able to do so. Notice periods are generally two months, although they can be longer. Once the tenant or the landlord has provided written notice to the other party, the contract will cease at the given date and the tenant will need to vacate the property by that date.
Under a tenancy agreement, you are entitled to be allowed to live in the property undisturbed. As such, your landlord cannot freely enter and must provide adequate notice if they need to visit the property. You are also entitled to live in a property of good repair, meaning that your landlord must keep things like the roof, guttering and windows in good order. The landlord must also maintain equipment relating to the supply of water and energy. If the property is partially or fully furnished, furniture should be fire resistant.
You should always keep your tenancy agreement in a safe place. However, if required, one of your rights as a tenant is that you can ask your landlord for a statement of terms of your tenancy. The request should be made in writing and your landlord must provide information including the start date, the amount of rent and the length of the fixed term within twenty-eight days.
The main landlord rights are that they are able to regain possession of the property at any point, subject to the conditions of the notice period as detailed in the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. This means that the landlord is able to recover possession even if the tenant has not breached the terms of the contract.
Can My Landlord Evict Me?
Under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, your landlord is entitled to a ‘possession order’ following the initial six-month term of the contract. This means that they are entitled to evict a tenant without a legal reason if they so wish. Most landlords only choose to evict tenants who have breached the terms of the contract, for example if rent payments are frequently late or if the rent has fallen into arrears. However, sometimes other circumstances create the need for a landlord to recover possession of their property, and these could include the decision to refurbish or sell the property.
So, can my landlord evict me? Yes. But the landlord will have to give you written notice of two months, or the duration specified in your tenancy agreement, unless you have been in breach of the contract. Most cessations of tenancies are perfectly amicable and allow adequate time for different accommodation to be secured. So if you do receive notice from your landlord, try not to panic and start making arrangements to move as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition.