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About

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant. The agreement gives the tenant the right to use the property for a specified period of time, and contains any additional rights and responsibilities of both parties. Solicitors can ensure these contracts meet legal requirements and respect the wishes of both the landlord and tenant.Next steps

How much does a Tenancy Agreement cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a Tenancy Agreement is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £189-£249 but in some cases it could cost as much as £350.

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Entering into a tenancy agreement can feel a bit daunting. It is normal to find yourself wary and unsure about what you should or shouldn't be agreeing to.

tenancy-agreement

But tenancy agreements can be straightforward and provides real transparency for both the tenant and the landlord.

In this guide, we will look at:

What is a tenancy agreement? 

A tenancy agreement, also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement, is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the rental arrangement, specifying the rights and responsibilities of both parties

The purpose of a tenancy agreement is to protect the interests of both the landlord and the tenant by establishing clear guidelines for the use of the rented property.

Key elements included in a lease are the names of parties; property description; term of the lease; rent details; utilities and services; rules and regulations; termination terms; security deposit; and legal obligations. 

It's essential for both parties to thoroughly read and understand the terms of the tenancy agreement before signing it.

If there are any concerns or questions, it's advisable to seek legal advice or clarification from the landlord or a professional, such as a landlord and tenant solicitor. Additionally, local rental laws may influence the content and enforceability of a tenancy agreement.

Different types of tenancy agreements

There are several types of tenancy agreements, each with its own characteristics and legal implications. The specific type of agreement often depends on factors such as the duration of the lease, the purpose of the rental, and local regulations.

Some common types of tenancy agreements are:

  • Fixed-Term Tenancy

  • Month-to-Month (Periodic) Tenancy

  • Sublease Agreement

  • Joint Tenancy

  • Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

  • Commercial Lease Agreement

  • Lease with Option to Purchase (Lease Option)

  • Holiday Let

  • Government Subsidised Housing Agreements

It's important for both landlords and tenants to understand the terms of the specific type of tenancy agreement they enter into, as the rights and responsibilities can be different based on the agreement.

Does a tenancy agreement have to be written?

A tenancy agreement doesn't have to be in writing to be legally valid. However, a written tenancy agreement is strongly recommended as it provides a clear record of the terms and conditions agreed upon by both the landlord and the tenant and helps avoid misunderstandings and disputes.

If a tenancy agreement is not in writing, certain terms are implied by law as set out in The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and both parties still have rights and obligations. However, having a written agreement allows for greater clarity and specificity in outlining the terms of the tenancy, such as the rent amount, duration of the rental period, responsibilities for repairs, and other important details.

In certain situations, such as assured shorthold tenancies in England, a landlord is legally required to provide a written tenancy agreement. If a landlord fails to do so within a certain timeframe, they may face legal consequences.

Regardless of whether the agreement is written or verbal, both landlords and tenants should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the law. If a dispute arises, a written agreement is often easier to enforce and interpret than an oral agreement.

Can you write your own tenancy agreement?

Yes, you can write your own tenancy agreement. While you can easily find standard templates available online, some landlords or tenants may prefer to create a custom agreement tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.

What to include in a tenancy agreement

When writing your own tenancy agreement, it's important to include the key elements and terms to ensure that both parties are clear about their rights and responsibilities.

The essential elements to include in a tenancy agreement are:

Names of Parties

Full names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s) involved.

Property Description

A detailed description of the rented property, including the address and any specific details about the unit or premises.

Term of the Lease

Start and end dates of the lease, specifying whether it's a fixed-term or periodic tenancy.

Rent Details

The amount of rent, due date, and accepted methods of payment.

Deposit Details

Amount of the security deposit, conditions for its return, and any deductions that may be made.

Utilities and Services

Specification of which utilities and services are included in the rent and which are the tenant's responsibility.

Maintenance and Repairs

Clarification on maintenance responsibilities and procedures for reporting and addressing issues

Rules and Regulations

Any rules related to the use of the property, such as restrictions on pets, smoking, or alterations.

Termination Terms

Conditions under which the lease can be terminated, including notice periods, break clauses and any penalties for ending a tenancy early.

Legal Obligations

Any legal obligations of the landlord and the tenant under local and national rental laws

When creating a tenancy agreement, it's crucial to ensure that the terms comply with relevant laws and regulations.

If you have any doubts or concerns, it's advisable to seek legal advice or use a professionally prepared template. Additionally, both parties should thoroughly review the agreement before signing it to avoid any misunderstandings.

What charges can be included in a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement can include various charges and terms, but it's essential to comply with the law and follow fair and transparent practices. 

Here are some common charges that may be included in a tenancy agreement:

1. Rent

The primary charge is the rent, which is the amount payable by the tenant for the use of the property. This should be clearly stated in the agreement, along with the frequency of payment and consequences of rent arrears.

2. Security Deposit 

Landlords commonly require tenants to pay a security deposit, which is held as security against damage to the property or unpaid rent. In England, the deposit is typically capped at the equivalent of five weeks' rent (or six weeks if the annual rent exceeds £50,000). Security deposits must be held a government approved tenancy deposit scheme.

In some cases, a prospective tenant may also need a guarantor, which is someone who promises to pay the rent should they be unable to. Alternatively, landlords may be open to using zero deposit schemes, which involve a one-off non-refundable payment instead of a deposit.

3. Utilities 

The agreement may specify which utilities (such as water, gas, electricity, and council tax) are the responsibility of the tenant. It's important to clearly outline who is responsible for setting up and paying for these services.

4. Service Charges

In some cases, particularly in leasehold or shared accommodation situations, tenants may be required to pay service charges for the maintenance of communal areas and services.

5. Default Fees

Landlords can charge certain fees in the event of default by the tenant, such as late payment fees, charges for lost keys, and fees for breaching the terms of the agreement. However, there are restrictions on the types and amounts of default fees that can be charged.

6. Fees for Early Termination

If the tenancy agreement allows for early termination, there may be fees associated with ending the tenancy before the agreed-upon term.

It's important to note that as of June 1, 2019, in England, the Tenant Fees Act prohibits landlords and letting agents from charging various fees to tenants, except for those explicitly allowed by the legislation. In Wales, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 also restricts fees.

It's recommended to use clear and transparent language in the agreement to avoid misunderstandings between landlords and tenants. If there are uncertainties, seeking legal advice can be beneficial.

What are implied terms in a tenancy agreement?

Implied terms in a tenancy agreement are terms that are not explicitly written or stated in the agreement but are nevertheless considered to be automatically included by law or common practice. These terms are implied to ensure fairness and to address certain rights and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant.

The implied terms can come from various sources, including statute, common law, and custom. 

Some common terms include:

  • Quiet Enjoyment

  • Fitness for Habitation

  • Repairs and Maintenance

  • Common Parts

  • Access for Repairs

  • Rent Payments

  • Non-Discrimination

  • Tenancy Duration

It's important to note that while certain terms may be implied by law, it is advisable for landlords and tenants to clearly outline all terms in the written tenancy agreement to avoid misunderstandings and disputes. If there are uncertainties or specific requirements, seeking legal advice can provide clarity on the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

Do I need a solicitor to write a tenancy agreement?

Whilst you don't necessarily need a solicitor to write a tenancy agreement, it is highly advisable to seek professional advice, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal complexities of tenancy agreements or if you want to ensure that the document complies with relevant laws and regulations.

Tenancy laws can be complex, and they may vary between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. A solicitor can help ensure that your tenancy agreement complies with the specific legal requirements in your jurisdiction.

In addition, if your tenancy arrangement involves specific or unique conditions, a solicitor can help tailor the agreement to address your individual needs while ensuring it remains legally sound.

Having a well-drafted agreement can help prevent disputes, but if conflicts do arise, a solicitor can offer guidance on dispute resolution procedures and legal options.

If you do choose to draft your own tenancy agreement, you should thoroughly research the applicable laws, consult reputable resources, and consider seeking legal advice to ensure that the document is legally sound and fair to both parties. It's an investment in preventing potential legal issues down the line.

Can I get my tenancy agreement online?

Yes, you can obtain tenancy agreement templates online. There are various websites and resources that provide standard templates for residential tenancy agreements. These templates are often designed to cover common terms and conditions, making them suitable for typical rental situations.

Ensure that you get the template from a reputable source, such as government websites, legal services, or established property management platforms. This helps to make sure the template is legally sound and up-to-date.

While templates provide a starting point, you may need to customise the agreement to suit your specific situation. Pay attention to details like rent amounts, tenancy duration, and any additional terms that apply to your agreement.

If you have any concerns or if your situation involves unique circumstances, consider having the agreement reviewed by a legal professional to ensure its compliance with the law and its appropriateness for your specific needs.

Can you stay in a property without a tenancy agreement?

It is legally possible to stay in a property without a written tenancy agreement, but this doesn't mean it's advisable. 

When a tenant rents a property, whether a formal written agreement is in place or not, certain legal rights and obligations still exist for both the tenant and the landlord. In the absence of a written agreement, the terms of the tenancy are typically determined by what is known as a "verbal tenancy agreement" or "implied tenancy agreement."

Here are some key points to consider:

Implied Terms: Certain terms are implied by law, even in the absence of a written agreement. This includes the obligation for the landlord to provide a habitable dwelling and the tenant's responsibility to pay rent.

Legal Rights and Protections: Both landlords and tenants have legal rights and protections under the law, regardless of whether there is a written agreement. For example, tenants have the right to live in a property undisturbed (the right to "quiet enjoyment").

Verbal Agreements: Verbal agreements are legally binding, but they can lead to misunderstandings and disputes. Having a written tenancy agreement provides clarity and helps avoid potential conflicts.

Difficulties in Enforcement: Without a written agreement, enforcing specific terms or proving the existence of certain agreements may be more challenging in case of a dispute.

Legal Requirements: In some cases, particularly in England, landlords are required by law to provide a written tenancy agreement. Failure to do so within a certain timeframe may have legal consequences.

It is highly recommended to have a written tenancy agreement in place to protect the interests of both the landlord and the tenant. If you are renting a property and do not have a written agreement, it is advisable to discuss this with your landlord and consider creating one to formalise the terms of the tenancy.

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How to change a tenancy agreement

Changing a tenancy agreement in the UK typically requires the agreement of both the landlord and the tenant.

how-to-change-a-tenancy-agreement

A summary of the steps involved in making changes to a tenancy agreement:

Step 1 - Mutual agreement

Both the landlord and the tenant must agree to the proposed changes. This agreement is usually documented in writing.

Step 2 - Draft an addendum or amend the agreement

Create a document that outlines the specific changes to the original tenancy agreement. This can be an addendum or an amendment to the existing agreement.

Clearly specify the changes being made, such as alterations to rent, the duration of the tenancy, or any other terms. Be thorough and precise to avoid misunderstandings.

Both parties should sign and date the addendum or amendment to indicate their agreement with the changes. This helps establish the changes as legally binding.

If the changes involve aspects like rent increases or alterations to the termination notice period, ensure compliance with legal notice requirements. Some changes may require a specific notice period before they come into effect.

Step 3 - Serve the updated document

Provide a copy of the updated agreement or addendum to both parties. You should keep a record of the original agreement, the changes, and any communication related to the modification.

While verbal agreement may be valid, having written consent is generally recommended to stop any potential disputes.

If the changes are significant or involve complicated legal matters, seeking legal advice can be beneficial to ensure that the changes are legally sound and comply with applicable laws.

Tenancy agreements and discrimination

Discrimination in tenancy agreements is prohibited under various laws, including the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act covers several protected characteristics, and it is illegal for landlords or letting agents to discriminate against tenants based on these characteristics. 

Landlords must not discriminate in the way they advertise rental properties. Advertisements should not indicate a preference for or against individuals with specific protected characteristics. The tenant selection process should be fair and unbiased. Decisions should be based on relevant criteria, such as rental history, income, and references, rather than protected characteristics.

The terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement should also not discriminate against any individual or group based on protected characteristics. This includes rent amounts, deposit requirements, and any other terms outlined in the agreement. Landlords may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for tenants with disabilities to ensure they have equal access to the property.

Discrimination in tenancy agreements can lead to legal consequences, including fines and compensation payments. Tenants who believe they have been discriminated against can take legal action.

Tenants who believe they have experienced discrimination can seek advice from organisations such as the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) or the Citizens Advice Bureau. If necessary, legal action can be pursued through the courts.

What happens to a tenancy agreement if the tenant dies?

If a tenant dies, the tenancy agreement does not automatically terminate. The situation may be handled differently depending on the specific circumstances and the type of tenancy in place. 

Some important points to consider are:

Joint Tenancy:

If the tenant was part of a joint tenancy, the tenancy usually continues with the remaining tenant(s). The surviving tenant(s) will become the sole tenant(s) and will be responsible for the entire tenancy.

Sole Tenancy: 

If the tenant had a sole tenancy, the situation can be more complex. In the case of a sole tenant's death, the tenancy may pass to the tenant's estate, and the executor or administrator of the estate may be responsible for managing the tenancy until the legal process is completed.

Notification: 

The landlord should be informed of the tenant's death as soon as possible. The notification is typically given by the deceased tenant's representative or the person handling their affairs.

Estate Administration: 

The process of handling the tenancy may involve working with the deceased tenant's estate. This may include communicating with the executor or administrator, who will be responsible for settling the tenant's affairs.

Rent Payments: 

The estate is generally responsible for any rent arrears, and any prepaid rent may be offset against outstanding debts.

Tenancy Termination: 

Once the estate is settled, the tenancy may be terminated in accordance with the terms of the tenancy agreement or applicable laws. This could involve giving notice to the landlord.

It's crucial for both landlords and tenants to seek legal advice in such situations to understand their rights and obligations. Additionally, specific details may vary depending on the laws in different parts of the UK, so consulting local regulations is advisable.

In the case of a tenant's death, sensitivity and understanding are essential. Both parties should communicate openly, and legal representatives may need to be involved to ensure a smooth transition and resolution of any outstanding matters.

If you are a tenant or a landlord in need of help and expert guidance on tenancy agreement, we can help.

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