Getting ready to move into a rental home can be an exciting time. You might be looking forward to stepping over the threshold and having somewhere new for you and your family to call home. However, before you get carried away planning how you’ll unpack and make the place your own, it’s important to make sure you’ve considered all the legal and practical issues associated with renting a property. For example, have you signed a tenancy agreement – and do you know what these arrangements are? Keep reading to get the lowdown on your tenancy agreement.
What is it?
This agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. It sets out the terms and conditions of your tenancy and both yours and your landlord’s rights and responsibilities. Tenancy agreements can be written or spoken, but it’s best to get a written copy because if you have a dispute with your landlord, it can be hard to prove your case if you don’t have the facts down on paper.
What should it include?
This arrangement should include your name and the name of your landlord, the rental sum that’s been agreed and how and when this money will be transferred. It should also detail the amount of the deposit, how this will be protected and under what circumstances part or all of the deposit can be withheld. In addition, it should feature the property address, the beginning and end dates of the tenancy and any obligations that you or your landlord have, as well as any bills you’re expected to pay.
Your agreement might also specify who is responsible for minor repairs (aside from those your landlord is legally obliged to cover). Bear in mind that if you’re expected to shell out for damage to your landlord’s property, it may be wise to take out specialist insurance. It’s possible to get tenant insurance in the UK that protects you if you damage your landlord’s fixtures, fittings and furniture. Getting this cover can give you added peace of mind.
Your tenancy agreement could also give details of whether your tenancy can be ended early (and how this can be done) and whether the home can be sublet to other people.
Is it fair?
It’s important to realise that your tenancy agreement can’t override your statutory legal rights as a tenant, it must be fair and it can’t discriminate against you. If your arrangement gives you less than your statutory rights, it can’t be enforced. Also, this contract should be set out in plain language that you can understand. If you’re confused by any of the information presented by your landlord, get legal advice before you enter into the agreement. You can get help at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Can you change it?
Your tenancy agreement can be changed, but only by mutual consent by you and your landlord. This means that neither party can alter the terms without the agreement of the other. If the terms are changed, this should be recorded in writing and signed.
It might seem like an unnecessary formality when you’re getting ready to move into your new place, but getting to grips with your tenancy agreement and making sure it’s fair can save you stress and uncertainty further down the line.