In this section we look at the role the tenancy agreement plays in ensuring a successful tenancy.
A good agent will ensure that the agreement is fair, current, and written in clear language, to ensure that both parties are fully aware of what they are signing and what they are, and are not, responsible for.
The agent’s experience of drawing up these documents and altering clauses where necessary can save the landlord money on solicitor’s fees. The costs of a solicitor drafting a bespoke document for each tenancy are likely to be higher than the agent using their standard documents and clauses. Where additional legal advice is needed Agents often have access to legal advice at competitive rates because of their long-standing relationships with legal representatives.
Your agent should be willing to spend time explaining any terms and conditions to the landlord or tenant, if they do not understand what is meant in the Agreement. Time spent at the beginning of the tenancy in ensuring each party is happy with the document can save so much time and energy later because then each side enters into the agreement in full understanding of what they are agreeing to.
An efficient agent will get documents drafted in plenty of time to allow for all this to take place. It is important that if the document is to be relied on in any later dispute that the tenant was given time to fully understand what they were signing.
Although the agent is working for the Landlord they have a duty of care towards their tenant too, so they should ensure that the tenant has time to read any documents before signing and if necessary the tenant should be allowed time to consult with legal representation, or in the case of non-English speakers they may want to get the document translated before signing.
If the document becomes evidence in a legal dispute at some point in the future it is in the Landlords interests for the agreement to be seen to be fair in its terms and clear in its meaning.
It goes (almost) without saying that a good agent will ensure that any Tenancy Agreement that they are using complies with current legislation. although laws in this area are well established and change infrequently there are matters that need updating from time to time. The may also other documents that need to be served correctly on the tenant in order to ensure tenancies are correctly set up, for instance if the landlord is not setting up a Shorthold Tenancy they are obliged to serve a notice informing the tenant of this fact.
Not all tenancies are Assured Shorthold Tenancies, and where they are not used correctly then statutory tenancies are created which may grant the tenant more rights than the landlord intended.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies allow landlords to let their property for a short period only between 6 and 36 months and
- The Tenant must be an individual not a business or holiday let
- The property must be the Tenant’s main home
- The rent cannot exceed £25,000 per annum and there must be some rent payable
- The Landlord must not occupy the same property – this includes flats converted from a larger building in which the landlord occupies a portion of the building even if they are both self-contained.
If court action is needed, this can be obtained on a number of different grounds against the Tenant.If the property is let under an Assured Short hold Tenancy, the Landlord can gain possession by issuing a Section 21 Notice which guarantees him possession once the original term has ended. This must give the tenant at least 2 months notice.
In practice although a tenancy can be set up for less than six months it is unlikely that a court will grant possession to the landlord within the first six months under a Section 21 Notice. However if a tenant has breached the terms of their agreement by nuisance or not paying rent then possession may be granted sooner.
If you want further advice on how we can help you to let and mange your property please do get in touch, one of our experienced team in our London Office would be happy to help you 020 7394 1160.
Part 5 will come out next week.