Tessa's Ten Top Tips for landlords on tenancy agreements

Property in Somerset
  1. Make sure you are using the right type of tenancy agreement. In particular, if you are letting to a limited company, if you live in self-contained accommodation in the same building, or if you are letting rooms in a shared house. If you are not sure which tenancy agreement to use, follow the >> Landlord-Law Which Tenancy Guide
  2. Do not make the fixed term more than six months unless you know and trust the tenants (or you may have to wait a long time before you can get them out).
  3. Make sure that the tenancy gives an address for the landlord in England and Wales (otherwise, the agreement will not comply with section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 which means that rent will not be payable by the tenant). The address can be that of an agent if the landlord is living abroad or in Scotland.
  4. If the tenancy agreement is signed before the right to rent check is done, the tenancy must be conditional upon a satisfactory check being done in due course
  5. The agreement should state clearly which payments (such as water rates, council tax and utilities) should be made by the tenant and which by the landlord. If any are payable by the landlord, provision should be made to increase the rent if these payments are increased, so the landlord is not out of pocket. Remember that weekly tenants must be given a rent book.
  6. Do not use an old form of tenancy agreement. All publishers have had to amend their tenancy agreements to take account of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. Some clauses previously in common use will now be deemed and unfair and unenforceable.
  7. Do not try to amend an agreement yourself without taking legal advice. You may find that the clause you have amended has actually been invalidated because you have not taken into account the requirements of the regulations.
  8. If you are taking a deposit you will need to have this protected under one of the government approved tenancy deposit schemes, and serve the prescribed information on the tenant within 30 days of taking the deposit. If you do not do this there are penalties.
  9. You should always prepare a detailed inventory giving details of the property contents and condition, and check this over with the tenants and agree it before they go in, and when they leave. This should be done even if the property is let unfurnished as it should include matters such as carpets, walls, doors and light fittings and their condition. If there is no inventory you will find it very difficult to justify any deductions from the deposit in any arbitration.
  10. Most important of all - make sure the tenants have signed the tenancy agreement and that you hold the tenancy agreement with their original signatures (ie not photocopies, or a faxed or scanned copy) before you hand over the keys and they are allowed to occupy the property. They should be given a copy of the tenancy agreement with your original signature on it.



If you are not sure which tenancy type you need, check out our Which Tenancy Agreement Guide

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