Firstly, it is perfectly possible to let your property without filling out a tenancy agreement. A landlord can grant a tenancy verbally providing:
However, I would never recommend this to landlords, even if the tenancy is to a friend or relative. This is because the enforcement of possession or alteration of the terms of the tenancy is more expensive for a landlord without the documentary evidence of a tenancy agreement, because accelerated proceedings are not available.
Where do professional landlords go for their buy-to-let insurance?
The FREE AST is available within Property Hawk’s Property Manager software as one of a selection of the forms required by landlords to manage the letting of their investment property. There are a number of other websites that offer free forms, however, some of these websites may not have used a legally trained lettings expert to have prepared the tenancy agreement.
The other significant advantage of using the Property Manager is that once a landlord has registered and added the details of the investment property and the tenancy; the software then automatically fills in the tenancy agreement form with all the tenancy details. It can then be viewed as a PDF and printed off. The form remains stored on the landlord’s account to be viewed or reprinted.
There are also significant time advantages to a landlord of using the Property Manager as a posed to using a blank form. This is because most of the details relating to a landlord’s buy-to-let property remain the same. Therefore, when it comes to reletting the investment property to a subsequent tenant all the landlord needs to do is to create a new tenancy. This process takes a couple of seconds. A new tenancy form can be generated and a landlord is then able to print off their new tenancy form.
Once a landlord has added their basic details by signing up, these are stored by the Property Manager and are used to prepopulate other forms needed by a landlord to manage their lettings business. For instance, following the introduction of the TDS if a landlord takes a tenancy deposit they need to also provide their tenant with certain prescribed information relating to how they intend to hold the tenancy deposit.
Creating a tenancy agreement should take no longer than 3 minutes. We have timed it! Having done it once it will take you even less time next time round. The other good thing about using the Property Manager is that because it is Internet based you can use it at work……...when the boss isn’t looking! A great time saving manoeuvre!
Here are the basic steps to creating a tenancy agreement and with almost 25,000 now created in just over a year by over 12,000 landlords we can say without hesitation that the service is pretty popular.
Step 1 REGISTER on the Property Hawk website
Step 2 Login
Step 3 Selected the PROPERTY MANAGER tab
Step 4 Click on the ADD property icon
Step 5 ADD property details
Step 6 GO to the tenancy tab & ADD details (TENANCY)
Step 7 GO to the FORMS tab & GENERATE Tenancy Agreement (FORMS)
Step 8 DOWNLOAD and PRINT
Filling out the form
At present it is not possible to edit the Property Hawk tenancy agreement online, although this is something that we intend to introduce at a later date. The dangers for a landlord that does edit the wording of a tenancy agreement without understanding fully the legislation governing the control of renting is that the terms of tenancy agreement could be rewritten in a way that they are no longer legally enforceable. Landlords are always best advised therefore to take legal advice before altering the AST.
When filling out the address of the investment property to be let out a landlord should ensure it is a buy-to-let property in England or Wales. The tenancy form is not suitable for lettings within Scotland or Northern Ireland because the law governing property rental is different in these countries.
The Property Manager draws the details for the landlord from the user details taken when a landlord signs up to use Property Hawk. Therefore it is best to use your or your businesses full name. The correspondence address that you enter must be an address in England or Wales in order to comply with section 148 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987.
Enter the address of the buy-to-let property by using the Add a property ikon. Don’t worry if you cannot find the exact town for the investment property. Make sure that you do have the correct number or property name and street, together with the right postcode. This will enable the buy-to-let property to be identified. If the letting unit is a room in a shared house for instance, then a landlord should include these details; for example – “Room 3”. A landlord can specify these details within the Property Manager in the Add a tenancy section. It is also possible to exclude certain parts of the property by inserting into the description field text such as: “(but excluding the use of the garage)” or “but excluding the use of the loft space”).
A landlord should include the full names of all the adults (18 & over) who occupy the rental property. The exception to this is where the landlord intends to let to a family with children over 18. In this case it is down to the discretion of the landlord as to whether to list the children on the tenancy form. If the child appears to intend to live in the property permanently it would be wise to include them.
Landlords should note that when two or more tenants sign a tenancy agreement together they will all have, what lawyers call ‘joint and several liability’ under the tenancy agreement. This means that they are liable to a landlord for everything.
The most common term for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is 6 months. A fixed term AST offers the advantage to tenants and landlord of stating clearly their intentions. It is possible to grant a tenancy for longer or shorter periods of time.
There is little advantage to a landlord in letting their property for longer than 6 months other than providing the tenant with a greater amount of certainty. This may be vital in persuading them to take your property a head of a competing landlords investment.
Landlords should enter the amount of rent payable in the rent field being careful to ensure that they select the correct rental period e.g. monthly, annually. Remember if you as the landlord select a weekly rent you are required by law to provide the tenant with a rent book. It’s therefore not advisable to go for weekly rent just because of the additional administration. Most landlords now opt for monthly rent paid in advance by standing order or direct debit.
It is normal for a tenant to pay a damage deposit to the landlord for them to fund any repairs or replacement resulting from the tenancy. Landlords should be aware of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme which requires a landlord to hold any deposit taken in the custodial or one of the
approved insurance back schemes. Some landlords now choose not to take a deposit at all preferring instead to charge the tenant an admin charge for setting up the tenancy or insuring themselves against potential damages resulting from the tenancy.
Executing the tenancy agreement
Once a landlord has added a tenancy they are then ready to generate the tenancy form and view it in PDF. A landlord should then read it through thoroughly to ensure that all the details have been included correctly. Once happy with the details, a landlord needs to print of a copy for themselves and each of the tenants with possibly one additional file copy.
These tenancy agreements then have to be signed by the landlord and the tenant. The landlord should never hand over the keys and / or allow the tenant into occupation before they have a copy of the assured shorthold tenancy with the tenant original signature (i.e. not a faxed or scanned copy.)
Most tenancies no longer need to be witnessed. This is because only documents that are signed as a deed need witnesses. Most documents transferring property rights need to be signed as a deed, but section 54(2) of the Law of Property Act 1925 provides that this not necessary for short leases (i.e. for less than 3 years) at a market rent.
Remember if you are taking a tenancy deposit you will need to do this.
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