Tenancy Agreements

January 12, 2013

Landlord Information

The position with respect to tenancy agreements in the United Kingdom is complicated and may vary depending upon a number of factors.

The following questions and answers might prove useful to you.

Is a tenancy agreement a legal requirement?

The answer may vary depending upon where you live.  At the time of writing, in England and Wales it is not a legal requirement in most circumstances though responsible individuals and associations would recommend that one is put in place.

In Scotland, it may be a legal requirement depending upon the exact circumstances concerned.

As the terminology and exact legal implications may differ from one jurisdiction to another, it would be advisable to consult the government’s own website for the position where you live*.

Why would you need a tenancy agreement?

Many experienced landlords will know that inevitably there are times when a dispute arises between landlord and tenant.

In some cases, issues arise due to different expectations, understandings and interpretations, between the two parties.

The primary objective of an agreement is to make sure that everything is written down, thereby reducing or eliminating the possibilities of misunderstanding.

It can also be extremely useful should the situation require the intervention of a tribunal or court in, for example, eviction proceedings.

Who benefits most from such an agreement?

Having clarity surrounding the relationship between landlord and tenant is something that should be desirable to both parties.

Neither should find themselves in the position of fearing such a document – its intention is to make life simpler and more secure for everyone involved.

What should it contain?

It is essentially a statement of the quantifiable and non-quantifiable aspects of the let (e.g. rental rates, increase reviews, notice periods, respective obligations etc.) and in fact just about anything else that either party wishes to include in it.

There are numerous templates available online and some organisations will provide a legally-validated outline tenancy agreement for a small fee.

Can I write whatever I want in it?

Yes, providing that the other party agrees and is willing to sign it off.

However, an important caveat here is that nothing in the agreement can contradict the basic legal principles of the law of the land.

For example, you are legally obliged to maintain a safe property for your tenants and nothing you write into the contract can remove that legal obligation upon you – even if the tenants are willing to sign and accept it.

Does this affect my landlords’ insurance?

Typically, not directly – but there may be some linkages.

For example, some landlords’ contents insurance may require that you have taken a formal inventory and had this signed off by your tenants under the auspices of some form of tenancy agreement.





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