If you are thinking of renting out property, it is crucial that you are aware of your legal rights and the obligations that you owe to your tenant.
Tenancy and leasehold agreements, depending on the type of rental that you are offering, need to be contractually put in place to protect both parties throughout the duration of the agreed term. Under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts 1999, it states that it is necessary to construct a contract between both parties in clear language to avoid ‘unfair tenancy terms’. This basically means that the wording used in the agreement must be free of small print, restrictions or unfair penalties.
A tenancy agreement will also safeguard the landlord, outlining legislation to the tenant, preventing them from anti-social behaviour, damage to the property or not paying the rent. Certain individual criteria can be plainly outlined to the tenant, such as no pets or third parties to abide at the property.
The tenants obligations, such as paying the rent as agreed, taking proper care of the property, paying the bills as agreed and allowing for inspection of the property at specified times can be clearly outlined in a written agreement.
When you let your property to a tenant, the tenancy is usually an assured shorthold tenancy. If the intention of the parties is to grant a different type of tenancy, such as an assured tenancy, then the correct legal procedure must be followed. Assured shorthold tenancies have many benefits for both parties and can be for a fixed term or left open-ended.
As of 6 April 2007, all deposits up to the level of £25,000, taken by landlords for assured shorthold tenancies in England and Wales, must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. From this date, tenants will be able to ask their landlord for details of the scheme prior to signing a new tenancy agreement. We are able to offer advice and guidance on the scheme together with drawing up tenancy agreements for landlords taking into account this new legislation.
As a landlord, you will have some essential responsibilities to your tenant, as outlined below;
What is the landlord responsible for?
It is important that as a landlord you fully understand your responsibilities and obligations. Should a landlord breach any of those obligations, such as failure to undertake regular gas and electrical safety checks, can amount to criminal behaviour leading to severe penalties in the event of a conviction. A landlord must also comply with The Disability Discrimination Act, Sex Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act to avoid possible action being taken against them.
You can end an assured shorthold tenancy without giving a reason at any time after six months, provided any fixed term you agreed at the outset has ended. You need to give your tenant at least two months written notice that you want your property back.
You can also end the tenancy at any time on certain grounds for possession set out in legislation. These include rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, and damage by the tenant. The length of the written notice you must give will depend on which ground you are using. Whatever grounds the landlord relies on to evict the tenant it is not lawful for the landlord to take repossession of the property when the tenant is still in occupation without the sanction of a court order authorising the repossession.
Many common problems occur when the tenancy agreement does not specify the responsibilities and obligations of both parties and it is therefore crucial that legal written tenancy agreements are put in place to avoid costly and lengthy court situations or sitting tenants that end up mooting all day.
We are able to draw up all necessary tenancy agreements and leases together with giving advice and guidance on problem tenants and applying to the courts for an eviction order if necessary.
For more infomation please contact one of the following:
|Clare Trevelyan Thomas||Partner||Crediton|
|Stephen Govier||Senior Solicitor||Budleigh Salterton|