Here are some common questions and answers people have about renting.
What is a tenancy agreement?
This is the agreement that legally binds the tenant and landlord, it sets out the legal and contractual responsibilities and obligations of both parties. The agreement is required to be written in plain language without any jargon, with terms and clauses included. It should be a fair and balanced document, without any misleading information on legal rights and responsibilities. It is recommended that the landlord and tenant should individually negotiate terms they feel are important to them or that have relevance to the property.
What happens if the tenant or landlord wants to end the tenancy early?
In the instance of an early end to a tenancy, either party may request the other formally allows them to surrender the tenancy. A tenant cannot lawfully leave their obligations to fulfil a contract, while a landlord cannot force a tenant to move out. If this was to occur the parties would have to agree the terms and conditions of a surrender, this may include some compensation for the costs involved and/or inconvenience to either party.
How often can rent be increased?
Generally speaking, the rent on an existing tenancy cannot be increased more than once every 12 months. A section 13 notice must be provided to give tenants notice of any proposed increase in rent or a new tenancy agreement can be agreed and signed.
What rules are there on the rights of access to the property?
A landlord, agent or someone who has authority to act on their behalf has the right to enter the property and review the condition or to complete repairs/maintenance at a reasonable hour with the tenant's agreement. However, it is against the law, except in emergency circumstances, for a landlord or agent to enter the property without giving the tenant a minimum of 24 hours written notice. If a tenant refuses access to the property a landlord or agent cannot enter the property without a court order. A tenant can specifically allow access without 24 hours written notice when they feel it is acceptable.
Are tenants entitled to know details of their landlord?
It is a criminal offence for an agent or rent collector to not provide their name and address, without reasonable excuse, within 21 days of the written request from the tenant regarding this information.
How can a tenancy be extended or renewed?
The ARLA agent commonly negotiates between the tenant and landlord to prepare any documentation for a fixed-term extension or replacement tenancy. If a further fixed term is not created to continue from the original term ending date, the tenancy can hold over as a periodic tenancy, meaning it continues with similar terms and conditions on a monthly basis.
What happens with the tenancy deposit?
Since 2007, a landlord is required to place your deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme backed by the government.
Commonly, a month's deposit is taken, but this can be up to a maximum of five weeks rent. This amount is required to be held throughout the tenancy for protection against the satisfactory performance by the tenant. These obligations are made under the tenancy agreement but they commonly refer to the condition and upkeep of the property.
The tenancy agreement should state who is responsible to hold the deposit and a number of terms such as the procedures and timescales for an end of tenancy deposit refund, whether interest should be paid and what the deposit can be allocated for.
The recommended method for a deposit to be held throughout the tenancy is by the ARLA member agent as a stakeholder between both the tenant and landlord. This ensures that come the end of the tenancy the agent should get an agreement from both parties before any potential deductions are made for whatever reason.
In the event of a dispute over the deposit, a third party will be tasked with handling an independent adjudication to provide a fair resolution for the tenant and landlord. An example of a third party would be the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
What does joint and several mean?
When there is more than one adult living in the property the tenancy responsibilities will be shared jointly between several persons. Meaning that jointly the tenants are liable for the payment of rent and anything required from them in their tenancy, including any potential breach of the agreement.
What is a break-clause and how does it work?
In the instance of a fixed term exceeding a year, a break clause is sometimes included in the tenancy. It will commonly be written to allow the tenant or landlord two months written notice at any stage beyond a period of the tenancy, terminating the tenancy earlier than the end of the fixed term.
How can a tenancy be terminated?
There is a straightforward process behind terminating a tenancy which the law allows providing timescales and procedures are complied with in addition to the correct notice format. The variables will be governed by the status and type of tenancy at the time it is requested to be ended.
If you are unsure of any of the information above or have further questions then do not hesitate to get in touch.