Tenants why a tenancy agreement is vitally important
The rental process might seem like an uphill battle for tenants, with several obligations and responsibilities to keep in mind before, during, and after the tenancy.
Before moving into your new rental home, though, you will need to pay close attention to your tenancy agreement, which will lay everything out clearly.
The tenancy agreement is a written contract that sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy. It will also clarify what type of tenancy it is – fixed-term (running for a set period) or periodic (running weekly or monthly).
Here, we run through the main components of a tenancy agreement and what renters need to watch out for before signing along the dotted line.
Type of Contract
There are three main types of tenancy agreements: Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), Assured Tenancy and Joint Tenancy.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy is the most common type of agreement and is used for those renting from a private landlord who does not live in the same property. ASTs have a fixed term (typically six or 12 months), and the landlord regains control of the property at the end of the lease.
Meanwhile, an Assured Tenancy is more secure as it allows tenants to stay in the property with no impending end date. This type of lease can be passed to another person in certain situations, and given that it can stretch for years, the landlord has the right to ask for a rent increase in the future.
A Joint Tenancy is suitable for those renting together with one signed agreement, meaning they are all fully responsible for rent payments. However, if one person moves out, the responsibility falls onto the remaining tenants, including any outstanding rental payments.
Other forms of contracts include an excluded tenancy (lodging), a non-assured tenancy, a regulated tenancy, and a company let.
The deposit is arguably one of the most important aspects of a tenancy agreement. The contract will usually set out the required deposit amount and how it will be protected.
It may also outline a situation in which a deposit can be partly or wholly withheld (i.e., repair any damage you've caused during the lease).
In England and Wales, landlords are legally obliged to place tenants' deposits in one of three government-backed deposit protection schemes: the Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate schemes.
Typically, a deposit will amount to around one month's rent which is collected before the tenancy begins.
As of June 2019, as part of the Tenant Fees Act, security deposits have been capped at five weeks' rent for homes with an annual rental below £50,000, while a deposit of six weeks' rent will apply for £50,000 or more.
To limit the chances of issues and disputes cropping up later on down the line, it's important to analyse the 'special clauses' section to know exactly where your responsibilities lie.
This could refer to your landlord's specific rules around pets or smoking in the rental home, your obligations when it comes to cleaning, what time of the month your rent is owed, and how your landlord prefers to receive payments.
A thorough and concise tenancy agreement will have all the answers to these questions to ensure there is no confusion.
Therefore, you must make sure you double-check the tenancy agreement so that you know exactly what your landlord will allow and what's required of you.