It is a good idea to draw up a tenancy agreements for your tenants to sign, ensuring that both parties are aware of the terms and conditions of the tenancy and that they understand their rights and responsibilities.
This is a requirement if your tenants are signing up to a fixed-term tenancy lasting more than three years. A letting agent can also do this on your behalf. Usually a tenancy would be for less than 3 years, however, where tenancies will be fixed for a period of 3 years or more there are additional strict requirements that need to be met and you should make yourself aware of them.
The tenancy agreement should include:
- The names of everyone involved;
- The address of the property you are renting;
- How much rent you are charging;
- How your tenants should pay the rent;
- The process you will use if you wish to increase the rent;
- which bills the tenants must pay, if any;
- The cost of the tenants’ deposits;
- How you will protect tenants’ deposits;
- The situations in which you would deduct money from their deposits;
- When their tenancy begins and ends;
- Any specific responsibilities on the part of the landlord and tenant.
- Any other requirements such as whether pets will be allowed at the property
- Whether or not sub-letting will be accepted
- Whether you will serve a section 8 notice to terminate the tenancy early in the event of rent arrears or other breaches of the agreement
- You should be careful not to put any terms in the tenancy agreement that could be considered unfair or could breach the law. You cannot take away your tenants’ rights even if they sign an agreement which attempts to restrict them.
It is common practice to have your tenants pay a deposit to cover any financial losses you may suffer due to their occupancy. However, there are extremely strict rules on protecting these deposits, which you or your letting agent must follow, otherwise you could face a hefty fine and potential restrictions on removing your tenants from the property. These rules apply if you are renting your home out on an assured shorthold tenancy (the most common type).
Within 30 days of receiving the deposit, it will need to be placed in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme. The intention of a TDP is to ensure that any deductions made from tenants’ deposits are fair and reasonable. The schemes available in England and Wales are:
- Deposit Protection Service
- My Deposits
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Tenants will also need to be supplied with the following information within 30 days of receiving their deposit:
- Your name and contact details;
- The address of the property you are renting to them;
- The amount of the deposit they have paid.
- If a third party paid the deposit, you should include the third party’s name and contact details;
- How the deposit has been protected, including the name and contact details of the TDP, as well as information about its dispute resolution service;
- How they can get their deposit back when the tenancy ends;
- Reasons you might deduct money from their deposit;
- What they can do if they cannot contact you at the end of the tenancy;
- What they can do if they disagree with you over the return of the deposit and any deductions made.
If you fail to protect your tenants’ deposits, the county court may force you to pay them up to three times the original deposit amount in compensation. It may also be more difficult to get the tenants to leave the property when their original tenancy ends, as you may be prevented from serving notices on the tenants until such time as their deposit is protected or repaid.
The legal advice in this article was provided by DAS Law, part of the DAS UK Group. This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.