Is your tenancy agreement up to scratch?

Is your tenancy agreement up to scratch?

If you have been letting a property for a number of years, or recently fallen into becoming a landlord, one document we suggest you have a detailed look over is your tenancy agreement.  The agreement sets out the responsibilities of both you and your tenant, as well as the terms and conditions of the let.  An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is the standard agreement used in England and Wales, is yours up to scratch?
Those landlords using a letting agency such as ourselves will no doubt be using our own agreements, which are thorough. Sadly, though, we have recently seen some agreements that could be putting you at risk.  One reason for this is the frequency of changes within the letting laws means that some terms and conditions and clauses may require updating.  If you have failed to keep an eye on recent changes you may find that your contract no longer protects you or your tenants.
You may have accidentally missed something out of your tenancy agreement – that being said, any law that has been passed by parliament is enforceable and legally binding, whether it is in the tenancy agreement or not.  Should your agreement include a clause which contravenes the statutory rights of a tenant, even if your tenant has signed your agreement, it would still be considered invalid.
Should the tenancy be agreed through a conversation, as soon as you receive rent from a tenant, your verbal tenancy agreement becomes legally binding, simply because many responsibilities and rights are statutory.  But at The Apartment Company we would strongly advise you against this type of agreement as problems can easily arise when there is nothing in writing, as there is no accurate way to prove what terms have been agreed.
The minimum fixed term under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is six months, and the typical maximum is twelve.  We have had many tenants who have expressed a desire to stay longer in their apartments, as they are looking for a longer-term home rather than a temporary stop.  One thing that is worth reminding your tenants is their tenancy can be renewed onto a rolling or periodical tenancy.  As long-term renting is more common than ever before, showing the stability you can offer a tenant with easy tenancy renewals is beneficial.
Should your tenancy come to an end without any issues, and you desire to stop letting your property, you must provide your tenant with a minimum of two months’ notice by issuing a Section 21 notice.  The government are currently looking at this notice, therefore it would be beneficial to keep an eye on the legislation in case things change in the future.  One of the benefits of using The Apartment Company to manage your rental property is that you know your tenancy agreement will always be compliant and you will be protected.
If you haven’t looked at your tenancy agreement for a while, we encourage you to do so.  Should you have any concerns on the validity of your agreement, contact our lettings team today on 01225 303870.

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