My Tenancy Agreement
The tenancy agreement is probably the most important document that a landlord can own. It sets out the landlord’s and the tenant’s rights and responsibilities with respect to the tenancy.
The other week I was e-mailed by a landlord who had originally granted a joint tenancy to a couple. They had since split up, but the guy was a frequent visitor to the property claiming that he was still the tenant and therefore had every right to visit his home. His partner wanted to exclude him from the buy-to-let property and had requested the landlord to alter the tenancy to a single tenancy in her name.
Unfortunately, I had to advise the landlord that unless all parties agreed, the tenancy agreement and the tenancy could not be altered. This just highlights the strength of the legislation that regulates the rights of tenants and how important it is that landlords ensure that they get a properly prepared tenancy agreement before committing to it.
Property Hawk’s tenancy agreement
Property Hawk’s tenancy agreement has been prepared by Rothera Dowson Solicitors by a lawyer with over 25 years experience in dealing with landlord issues.
To create and download the tenancy agreement a landlord just needs to follow the instructions in the Landlords Bible on producing a tenancy agreement.
Altering my tenancy agreement.
It is possible to alter the terms of the tenancy. Let’s face it – things happen and life rarely stays constant; but only with the tenant’s approval.
The most common alterations to the tenancy revolve around changes in rent and occupation of the investment property resulting frequently from changes in domestic circumstances.
Increasing the rent
In the case of increasing the rent the steps that a landlord takes will depend on the type of tenancy in place at the time that they wish to change it. In the case of the Property Hawk tenancy agreement there is no specific clause stating how much and when the rent can be increased. Therefore, unless the tenant agrees otherwise, the landlord can only put up the rent at the end of the fixed period by creating a new tenancy agreement. Alternatively the landlord can use a formal procedure in the Housing Act 1988 to propose a rent increase to be payable as soon as the statutory periodic tenancy starts. This is done using the form called; the “Landlord’s notice proposing a new rent under an Assured Periodic Tenancy of premises situation in England” or “Landlord’s notice proposing a new rent under an Assured Periodic Tenancy of premises situated in Wales” . This mouthful of legal linguistics is frequently and for obvious reason shortened to that of a Section 13 Notice.
Section 13 Notices are available from a law stationer or rent assessment panel offices but will ultimately be available free to download from Property Hawk through our Property Manager 2 FREE lettings software which should be launched towards the end of October.
A landlord must give at least a month’s notice of the proposed increase if the rent is paid on a weekly or monthly basis (more if the rent period is longer). If the tenant agrees with the proposed rent increase, he or she should simply pay it from the date given in the notice.
Rent increase dates
It is important for landlord to note that the date on which the new rent is required must not be earlier than a year after the date when the rent was last increased using a section 13 notice. If a new tenancy is in place then the date should not be any earlier than a year after the date when the tenancy started.
The rent increase must begin on the same day of the month that the tenancy started. For example, if the rent for the tenancy is due on the 28th of every month then the new increased rent should also be due on the 28th of the month.
Customising my tenancy agreement
The free tenancy agreement available to download from Property Hawk can only be download as a PDF. We have restricted it to this format partly because it is easier to download and print for landlord but also so that it cannot be changed or customised. Altering a tenancy agreement by inserting specific clauses is potentially dangerous in that a landlord without sufficient understanding of the landlord and tenant law could easily insert a clause that is illegal or unenforceable and for instance contravenes the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (UTCCRs).
This bit of regulation protects consumers including tenants from terms that reduce their statutory or common law rights and from terms that seek to impose unfair burdens on the tenant. If a term is judged unfair it will not be binding on the tenant.
Property Hawk is currently working on our lettings software to produce an improved Property Manager 2.0 which will be available by the end of October. We are also considering giving landlords the option to customise their tenancy agreement to allow them to insert their own clauses into their tenancy agreement. Is this something that landlords would find useful? Go to the landlord blog and look on the right hand side to vote on whether you as a Property Hawk user would like to see customisable tenancy agreements.
Filling out a tenancy agreement
Length of a tenancy agreement
Terms of a tenancy agreement
Tenancies in Scotland
Rent assessment committees