What is a Tenancy Agreement?
A Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and tenant that sets out the legal and contractual responsibilities and obligations of the two parties involved. It should be written in plain, intelligible language and with no unnecessary jargon. Its terms and clauses should be fair and balanced and any individually negotiated terms should be clearly stated. At Anderson Hacking, a lot of attention and care has been taken to ensure the Tenancy Agreement we use is as thorough and fair as possible; both landlord and Tenant are given copies of the Agreement in good time before the start of the contract so any questions or queries can be raised before commencement of tenancy.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
The most common form of Tenancy agreement used is an ‘Assured Shorthold’ (an AST) under the 1988 Housing Act (amended 1996). This type of tenancy offers the most flexibility to both landlord and tenant and has straightforward notice procedures for bringing the tenancy to an end.
What happens if the Tenant doesn’t move out after the end of a tenancy?
First, try to establish quickly the reasons why. However, if a tenant does not move out after a tenancy has been lawfully terminated then the landlord can apply to the Courts for a possession order. Under the Accelerated Possession Procedure (which can be used where the tenancy was an Assured Shorthold), the process is usually fairly quick and inexpensive. If a notice to vacate is not entertained by the tenant, Anderson Hacking is experienced in dealing with Court Procedures and can offer Legal Expenses Cover for Landlords peace of mind, and can deal with the process on your behalf when needed.
Can any other forms of tenancy be used?
If certain specific conditions are met relating to the proposed letting, a ‘contractual’ non- housing act tenancy must be created. An example of this would be what is commonly referred to as a Company Let where the tenant is a bona fide registered company, another would be where the annual rent equates to over £100,000. A more likely situation is if the premises is not going to be used as a main and principal home or a ‘Pied-a-Terre’ and or Holiday Let, finally if the Landlord is resident and the tenants occupy part of the Landlord’s property. Here at Anderson Hacking we can advise which contract is right for you and advise the implications of each accordingly.
Who is responsible for council tax, water rates and other utilities?
A tenant under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) becomes liable for payment of council tax, water rates, gas and electricity charges, and TV licence and telecom costs. Some rents may include some or all of the utilities and charges, if so, what is included will be clearly stated within the tenancy agreement. Upon signing a tenancy agreement we inform all the utility companies and provide meter readings. We also contact the local authority and advise them of the tenant’s occupation date.
What referencing and credit checking facilities are available?
We employ the services of an external credit agency. They offer us a broad range of tenant referencing products to assist us in selecting the right tenants for the right properties. We find using an external agency offers complete transparency and a non-biased conclusion. Landlords can request copies of the referencing report if they wish, but this can only be provided with the tenants permission under Data Protection Act rules.
Tenants are currently responsible for paying a referencing fee, which enables us to complete the necessary checks. This is currently being reviewed by the Government, however is now looking to continue to be the case until Spring 2019 as recently confirmed by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG).
What about an inventory and schedule of condition?
This is an absolutely essential document that provides a written benchmark at the start of every new tenancy. The document is amended, updated and recreated before the beginning of each new tenancy. A properly constructed Inventory and Schedule of Condition details the fixtures and fittings and describes their condition and that of the property generally. It is a document that helps protect the interests of both landlord and tenant and helps administer the tenants security deposit at the end of the tenancy. It is a document that is created by a member of our staff and a copy will be provided to both parties at the start of every tenancy. Any agreed amendments may be noted within the first seven days of any new tenancy.
What about the tenancy deposit?
It is quite a common requirement for a deposit to be equivalent to between four to eight weeks rent and is required to be held in during the tenancy, against the satisfactory performance by the tenant of all the obligations under the tenancy agreement; but mainly, those relating to the cleanliness and condition of the property. Anderson Hacking has a policy to collect a six week deposit, unless otherwise negotiated. Under legislation, which came into effect on 6 April 2007, any landlord or agent who takes a deposit from a tenant(s) for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, must safeguard it in an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Anderson Hacking is registered with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) and the deposit monies get sent to them within 10 days of the start of any new tenancy to be held on the Landlords behalf.