Renting Out Your Property
The key to a quiet life
Disagreements between tenants and landlords can be long and sometimes bitter. Yet most can be avoided with the right legal advice at the start.
We can deal with all areas of Landlord and Tenant Law and are skilled in settling disputes. But prevention is better than cure. The key to a happy tenancy is to understand your rights and duties as a tenant and to make sure your tenancy agreement reflects them. This is why it’s vital to visit us before you agree to your landlord’s terms.
A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. This contract can be written or verbal. In England and Wales there is no law to say that landlords have to provide a written tenancy agreement, but it is always a good idea to ask for one – even if your landlord is a friend or family member. Otherwise, if you have a dispute with your landlord about the terms of your tenancy, it is your word against theirs as to what has been agreed.
There are several types of tenancy agreement. Of these, the two most common types are the ‘assured shorthold’ tenancy and ‘assured’ tenancy.
Assured shorthold tenancy
This is normally for six months. You have no right to stay at the end of the tenancy period agreed if your landlord has given you valid notice to leave.
This is often used by public-sector landlords. It gives you far greater rights to stay at the end of the tenancy period agreed. Ideally, you should contact your solicitor before you agree the terms of a tenancy with your landlord. This will give you the chance to check whether the terms are fair and legal before you commit to them.
How long will it take?
If the tenancy agreement you are considering is relatively straightforward, you will probably only need one meeting with us to check the agreement through. We will then send you a letter to summarise the advice they have given you.
What will the meeting cover?
If your landlord has given you a written agreement to sign, bring it with you. We will go through it point by point to:
- check that it is legal
- explain the basic requirements of the agreement
- warn you of any pitfalls.
You will need to consider the following key issues
Length and type of tenancy
When does the tenancy start and finish? What notice does the landlord have to give you to end the tenancy? Under what circumstances can you be evicted? What do you have to do if you want to end the tenancy?
What restrictions has your landlord placed on you keeping pets, hanging out washing or playing loud music after hours? Are these restrictions reasonable? What happens if you ignore them?
When do you have to pay the rent? What might happen if you don’t pay on time? Will you have to pay interest? How often and when can the landlord increase your rent? What help can you get with paying your rent if you are on a low income or receiving welfare benefits? What is local housing allowance? What is a registered fair rent?
How much do you pay and when do you get it back? Is there a list of fixtures and fittings which your landlord has left in the property?
Since 6 April 2007 all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents must be held in one of three government-approved tenancy deposit schemes. These schemes make it easier to resolve disputes over deposits. They protect tenants by preventing landlords and letting agents from unfairly withholding a deposit.
The landlord or agent must give you details about how your deposit is protected within 14 days of receiving it.
Service charges and repairs
Will the landlord provide any services, such as laundry, maintenance or meals? Are there separate service charges for these? What are the landlord’s duties to carry out repairs? Can you withhold rent if the property is in disrepair?
What are the landlord’s rights to enter your home? Are other people allowed to use the property? If so, which rooms can they use?
If any of your landlord’s terms seem unreasonable or inconvenient, we can tell you how best to go about raising these concerns.
Sadly, most tenants don’t take advice until matters have reached crisis point and they find themselves evicted. Although it is rarely as easy to solve a problem at this stage, we have the knowledge and experience to see the matter through.