When you accept a tenant, you’ll need to write a tenancy agreement. In its simplest form, this is a document that sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy, explaining, among other things, your responsibilities toward the tenant and the property and the reciprocal responsibilities of the tenant.
Get the tenancy agreement wrong at your peril: I’ve seen self-written agreements that have virtually made it impossible to evict a tenant and met landlords with ‘verbal contacts’ that simply wouldn’t stand up.
One of the advantages of property management carried out by professionals is that they are used to writing both standard and more complex agreements. To avoid problems further down the line, here are my top tips on tenancy agreements.
1. Make sure you have a written tenancy agreement, and that it’s the right one
There are some tenancy agreements available, but the one that applies in the majority of cases is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST). (For the legally minded among us, this type of tenancy was created within the Housing Act 1988.)
2. Always sign the agreement
Never rely on the draft tenancy agreement being enforceable – make sure the tenancy agreement is signed by you (or your representative) and the tenant.
3. A proper inventory is essential and included in the advantages of property management
Without a list of items in the property and a detailed report of the state of the property when the tenant moved in, you’ll be on thin ice if there’s a dispute over damage to or loss of property when the tenants leave. Among the advantages of property management in the digital world, is the ability to take photographs and videos as a visual inventory.
4. Make sure you protect the deposit
It’s a legal requirement to put the tenant’s deposit under protection, and you have to do this within 30 days of receiving it. Don’t fall foul of the law here – if you haven’t dealt with the deposit correctly and need to serve a section 21 notice, you won’t be able to.
5. Be clear about dates on the tenancy agreement
Always stipulate the start date and end date (or period) of tenancy. I can’t emphasise this strongly enough. I was witness to a horror tenant who just wouldn’t budge. There was no end-date on the tenancy agreement, and no reference to rental reviews. The do-it-yourself landlord was forced to spend thousands to evict the tenant, losing out on the higher rent that he could have been charging during the process, too.
6. Everyone who lives there and is over 18 should be named in the tenancy agreement
Just imagine finding the perfect family to rent your property. They pay on time, look after the home and garden, and never trouble you. Then, suddenly, a rental payment is missed. Then another. You phone the tenants, only to discover that they moved out three months ago. Occupying the home is their 19-year old son, and when you inspect the property you, find that he has moved in three of his mates. You’re three months wrong on the rent and now have what amounts to squatters as tenants!
Avoid this scenario by always ensuring that all occupants over the age of 18 are named on the tenancy agreement, referenced accordingly, and have signed all necessary paperwork.
Next time, I’ll look at the 10 tenancy agreement terms and conditions you must include. In the meantime, if you want to discover the advantages of property management by Ezytrac, feel free to contact the team on +44 1522 503 717.
Yours in Effortless property Management,