1] Length of tenancy
Don’t give a fixed term longer than 6 months unless you trust your tenants. You can always extend the contract when the fixed term has expired.
2] Signed tenancy agreements
Never allow a tenant to move into your property until the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is agreed to and signed.
3] Keep an original copy
Hold a copy of the tenancy agreement with your tenants original signatures (i.e. not photocopies, or a faxed or scanned copy). Your tenant should also keep a copy with original signatures.
4] Ensure validity
Ensure that the Tenancy Agreement you use is valid. A lot of agreements are sourced from unreliable vendors, which contain clauses that aren’t even legally enforceable.
5] Statutory rights
None of the tenant’s statutory rights can be revoked or conflicted with, even if stated in the tenancy agreement.
6] Minimal length of contract
An Assured Shorthold Tenant is entitled to stay in the property for a minimum of 6 months, even if the agreement stipulates a shorter period.
7] Should be included
The following should be included in the agreement:
- tenant and landlord name, and the address of the property which is being let
- the date the tenancy began
- the duration of the tenancy
- the amount of rent payable, how often and when it should be paid and how often and when it can be increased.
- Who is responsible for which bills e.g council tax, utility bills .etc
- if pets are allowed
8] Amending T&C’s
A tenancy agreement can be changed if both the tenant and landlord agree to the proposed amendment(s).
If both agree, the change should be recorded in writing, either by drawing up a new written document setting out the terms of the tenancy or by amending the existing written tenancy agreement. Moreover, ensure that the chances you make are LEGAL. Seek legal advice to get confirmation.
9] Periodic Assured Shorthold
At the end of the fixed term if the tenancy agreement is not renewed, it then becomes what is known as a Statutory Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. The terms of the original tenancy agreement still apply, but the tenancy continues on an agreed period by period basis.
10] Notice to quit
To end an AST, the Landlord MUST serve a Section 21 (Notice of Possession Order Form), at least 2 months prior to the end of the agreed termination date.
11] Using a appropriate AST
An AST can vary in content depending on whether the property for let is furnished or unfurinished. Make sure you use an agreement which matches your let type.
12] Assured Tenancy Vs Assured Shorthold Tenancy
There’s a difference between an “Assured Tenancy” and “Assured Shorthold Tenancy”. In short, with a shorthold tenancy the landlord can regain possession of the property 6 months after the beginning of the tenancy, provided that he or she gives 2 months notice to the tenant. A assured tenancy gives the right to a tenant to remain in the property unless the landlord can prove to the coirt that he or she has grounds for possession. The landlord does not have an automatic right to repossess the property when the tenancy comes to an end.
If you have made the rent payable weekly, you have to provide the tenant with a rent book in the prescribed form (obtainable from from most large stationers).
14] Up-to-date tenancy agreement
Make sure the tenancy agreement you use is up to date. Over the years new laws have come into play, which should all be included in the contract.
As an example, make sure the tenancy agreement you use mentions the securing of the tenant’s deposit. If it doesn’t, it’s most likely a very old contract.
15] Tenant deposit
If you’re taking a deposit from your tenant, it must be protected under one of the government approved tenancy deposit schemes, and inform the tenant using the proper form within 14 days of taking the deposit.
16] Landlord address
Ensure the tenancy agreement contains 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.
17] Tenancy Agreements in May/June
Try not to offer a 6 month tenancy in May or June, it’s harder to re-let in Nov, Dec and Jan if tenant vacates. 8 month agreements during May/June is a better idea.
Got anymore? Let’s hear it, and I’ll add it to the list.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger, I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any advice I give is my opinion based on my experience, and is never legal or professional advice. You should always get professional advice on any legal and financial matters!