Ten­ancy Agree­ments

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Catrin, UK Solicitor
07/06/2024 ● 4 minutes
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A ten­ancy agree­ment is an im­port­ant doc­u­ment for both land­lords and ten­ants. This Aatos guide covers the types of ten­ancy agree­ments in the UK, what they need to in­clude, and the legal re­quire­ments to make sure they’re valid and en­force­able.

Ten­ancy agree­ments set out the terms of rent­ing a prop­erty, pro­tect­ing both land­lords and ten­ants by de­fin­ing their rights and re­spons­ib­il­it­ies. In the UK, there are dif­fer­ent types of ten­ancy agree­ments, each with unique fea­tures.

By un­der­stand­ing these agree­ments, and the dif­fer­ent types of ten­ancy, you’re well on your way to a smooth and leg­ally pro­tec­ted rental ex­per­i­ence.

Types of Ten­ancy Agree­ments in the UK

There are three main types of ten­ancy in the UK:

As­sured Short­hold Ten­an­cies (ASTs)

ASTs are the most common type of ten­ancy agree­ment in the UK. These are typ­ic­ally used for private rent­als and offer a good bal­ance of rights and re­spons­ib­il­it­ies for both land­lords and ten­ants. An AST usu­ally lasts for a fixed term, like six months or a year, and can be re­newed or turn into a rolling (peri­od­ic) ten­ancy af­ter­wards.

The doc­u­ment this type of ten­ancy is re­corded on is called an as­sured short­hold ten­ancy agree­ment, but this can also be re­fer­red to as a short term ten­ancy agree­ment, a peri­od­ic ten­ancy agree­ment, or a short­hold ten­ancy agree­ment.

As­sured Ten­an­cies

As­sured ten­an­cies provide more se­cur­ity for ten­ants than ASTs. They are less common and often used by hous­ing as­so­ci­ations. With an as­sured ten­ancy, ten­ants have stronger rights to stay in the prop­erty unless the land­lord can prove a legal reason to evict them.

Ex­cluded Ten­an­cies

Ex­cluded ten­an­cies apply to lodgers who live with their land­lord. These agree­ments offer less legal pro­tec­tion for ten­ants but are more flex­ible for land­lords. Since the tenant shares living space with the land­lord, the rules are sim­pler com­pared to ASTs and as­sured ten­an­cies.

Key Com­pon­ents of a Ten­ancy Agree­ment

The best way to ensure your ten­ancy is leg­ally valid is to use a ten­ancy agree­ment tem­plate that’s drafted for the UK since this will in­clude UK-spe­cif­ic laws.

Here’s what needs to be in­cluded in the agree­ment:

Rent De­tails

A ten­ancy agree­ment should clearly state the amount of rent, how often it needs to be paid (like monthly or weekly), and the ac­cepted meth­ods of pay­ment (such as bank trans­fer or cheque).

De­posit In­form­a­tion

The agree­ment should spe­cify the de­posit amount and de­tails about the de­posit pro­tec­tion scheme where it will be held. In the UK, land­lords must pro­tect tenant de­pos­its in a gov­ern­ment-ap­proved scheme.

Dur­a­tion of the Ten­ancy

The agree­ment must out­line how long the ten­ancy will last. This could be a fixed term (like six months or a year) or a peri­od­ic ten­ancy that con­tin­ues on a rolling basis (such as month-to-month). The start and end dates should be clearly stated.

Re­spons­ib­il­it­ies of Both Parties

The agree­ment should list what both the land­lord and the tenant are re­spons­ible for. For land­lords, this typ­ic­ally in­cludes main­tain­ing the prop­erty, making ne­ces­sary re­pairs, and en­sur­ing safety stand­ards. For ten­ants, re­spons­ib­il­it­ies usu­ally in­volve keep­ing the prop­erty clean, re­porting any issues promptly, and not caus­ing damage.

Con­di­tions for Ter­min­a­tion

The ten­ancy agree­ment should ex­plain how the ten­ancy can be ended. This in­cludes the notice peri­ods re­quired for both parties, the reas­ons for evic­tion (like not paying rent or break­ing the terms of the agree­ment), and how a tenant can end the ten­ancy (such as by giving proper notice).

There are a few things that need to be present, or done, for your ten­ancy to be leg­ally valid:

Writ­ten Doc­u­ment­a­tion

A ten­ancy agree­ment must be in writ­ing to be leg­ally valid. This doc­u­ment should in­clude es­sen­tial de­tails like the names of the land­lord and tenant, the prop­erty ad­dress, the rent amount, the dur­a­tion of the ten­ancy, and the re­spons­ib­il­it­ies of both parties. Clear and com­pre­hens­ive doc­u­ment­a­tion helps pre­vent mis­un­der­stand­ings and dis­putes.

De­posit Pro­tec­tion

As men­tioned pre­vi­ously, land­lords in the UK are re­quired to pro­tect tenant de­pos­its in a gov­ern­ment-ap­proved scheme, such as the De­posit Pro­tec­tion Ser­vice, MyDe­pos­its, or the Ten­ancy De­posit Scheme. Fail­ing to do so can result in pen­al­ties for the land­lord and affect their abil­ity to serve an evic­tion notice.

Land­lords must also comply with sev­er­al other legal ob­lig­a­tions:

  • Right to Rent Checks: Land­lords must verify that ten­ants have the legal right to live in the UK.
  • Energy Per­form­ance Cer­ti­fic­ate (EPC): The prop­erty must have an up-to-date EPC, which rates its energy ef­fi­ciency.
  • Gas and Elec­trical Safety Stand­ards: Land­lords must ensure that all gas and elec­trical in­stall­a­tions are safe and in­spec­ted reg­u­larly.

Common Issues During a Ten­ancy

One common issue is dis­putes over re­pairs. Land­lords are gen­er­ally re­spons­ible for main­tain­ing the prop­erty and making ne­ces­sary re­pairs, while ten­ants must keep the prop­erty clean and report any prob­lems.

Breaches of ten­ancy agree­ments often in­clude not paying rent, caus­ing damage to the prop­erty, or vi­ol­at­ing terms like keep­ing pets without per­mis­sion. If a breach occurs, land­lords should first dis­cuss the issue with the tenant. If the prob­lem car­ries on, taking legal steps like serving a notice or seek­ing a court order may be ne­ces­sary.

Tips for Land­lords and Ten­ants

For land­lords, con­duct­ing thor­ough tenant screen­ings is the best way to ensure re­li­able ten­ants. Main­tain­ing clear and open com­mu­nic­a­tion with ten­ants helps ad­dress issues promptly and ef­fect­ively. Ad­di­tion­ally, keep­ing de­tailed re­cords of all in­ter­ac­tions, agree­ments, and re­pairs can pre­vent mis­un­der­stand­ings and provide evid­ence if dis­putes arise.

For ten­ants, make sure you care­fully read and un­der­stand the ten­ancy agree­ment before sign­ing. Keep­ing a copy of the signed agree­ment for ref­er­ence can help you stay in­formed about your rights and re­spons­ib­il­it­ies. If any issues or re­pairs are needed, report them to the land­lord in writ­ing as soon as pos­sible to ensure timely res­ol­u­tion.

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