Tenancy Agreements

Are you a private landlord? Are you considering renting out your property?

Do you need an up to date tenancy agreement to protect your interests?

If so, Mercian Law can help.

As a solicitor practice we are sometimes asked for a short template tenancy agreement that clients can amend themselves.  Mercian Law have many tenancy agreements, but we never supply clients with templates and do not recommend they be purchased online or downloaded for free.  The reason being:

  • They may not contain all the clauses you need
  • They could be out of date, incomplete or contain unfair contract clauses
  • It is not advisable to simply amend tenancy clauses without obtaining legal advice because you could invalidate the clause
  • Any ambiguity and double meanings in drafting will usually be found in the tenants favour

Tenancy agreements are essential, they provide a written record of your agreement and they include the clauses that protect you and your property. 

For private landlords almost all new tenancies commencing after 15th January 1989 will be a six-month fixed term Assured Shorthold Tenancy. 

It cannot be an AST if:

  • Occupation commenced prior to 15th January 1989
  • The annual rent is over £100,000
  • The annual rent is less than £250
  • The tenant is a business
  • The property is licenced premises
  • The property is a holiday let

Your tenants statutory rights cannot be excluded regardless of any contractual provision in your tenancy agreement.  Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 such clauses are deemed invalid. 

Prior to the tenancy commencing and giving the tenants keys to your property, you must provide your tenants with or undertake the following:

  • Signed and dated tenancy agreement. Ideally provide a draft for them to consider prior to arranging a meeting for signature.  Have two copies signed by you and the tenant so you can each keep an original
  • Gas safety certificate
  • Energy performance certificate
  • Do a right to rent check against all adult occupants who are authorised by you to occupy
  • Obtain proof of age of older children
  • Completed standing order form
  • If the tenant is in receipt of housing benefit, ask for a signed authority for the benefits office
  • Signed inventory & schedule of condition ideally by an inventory clerk, covering condition of walls, doors, windows, carpets, curtains, light fittings etc
  • Guarantors signature (which will need to be witnessed), must be signed in front of you.

Mercian Law can assist in drafting the terms of your tenancy agreement specific to you and your property.  As a responsible landlord, you will want your tenancy agreements to reflect the law and be enforceable.  Drafting and amending them yourself exposes you to the risk of the clauses being unenforceable.

Having a properly drafted tenancy agreement should help to keep disagreements to a minimum because both you and your tenant know where you stand.  Usually our tenancy agreements are quite long in order to provide all the required protections. 

Our tenancy agreements are drafted by a qualified solicitor and are regularly updated.  They are in plain English and easy to understand to prevent clauses being unfair or invalid.

What should be included in your Tenancy Agreement?

  • Names, addresses and ideally telephone numbers and email addresses of all tenants, adult occupants, and yourself
  • Rent amount and how it should be paid, we recommend stating payment by standing order. The default position is that rent is payable in arrears unless you state otherwise
  • The allowed use of the property (main and principle residence)
  • Are pets allowed? You must provide for the tenant to seek your permission which will not be unreasonable refused
  • Is smoking allowed?
  • How and when the rent will be reviewed (annually on anniversary of tenancy)
  • The deposit amount & how it’s being protected. Any deposit must be held in an approved deposit scheme. Prescribed information about the scheme must be served on the tenant by you within 30 days of receiving the deposit.  If you do not comply the tenant can claim up to three times the deposit in damages.
  • Property address
  • Term – tenancy start and end dates. Usually an initial fixed term of six months but it can be any period you wish
  • Any bespoke clauses providing for tenant and landlords rights and obligations particular to your property
  • Any break provision, to bring the tenancy to an end early
  • Any subletting rights
  • Notice & termination requirements to end the tenancy

If you purchased the property with tenants already in occupation, a S48 Notice must be served upon completion of the purchase for you to be able to claim the rent.