Frequently Asked Questions
1 - What is a Tenancy agreement?
A Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and tenant that sets out both the legal and contractual responsibilities and obligations of the two parties. It should be written in plain, intelligible language with no unnecessary jargon. The terms and clauses should be fair and balanced, taking account of the respective positions of the parties and should not mislead about legal rights and responsibilities.
2 - What kind of Tenancy Agreement will be used?
The most common form of tenancy agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) under the 1988 Housing Act (amended 1996). This type of tenancy has the most flexibility for both landlord and tenant; has straightforward notice procedures for bringing the tenancy to an end and a special Accelerated Possession court procedure should tenants fail to vacate the property.
Whereby the tenant is a company the tenancy falls outside of the Housing Act and a Contractual non-Housing Act Tenancy Agreement will be used.
Where the property is used by the Tenant as their second home, the tenancy falls outside of the Housing Act and a Contractual non-Housing Act Tenancy Agreement will be used.
3 - Joint and Several - What does this mean?
Where there is to be more than one (adult) person living in the property, the tenancy will say that they are “jointly and severally” responsible. This expression means that, jointly, the tenants are liable for payment of all rents and all liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy, as well as any breach of the agreement. Individually, each tenant is responsible for payment of all rent and all liabilities falling upon the tenant, as well as any breach of the agreement until all payments have been made in full.
4 - What is a 'Break-Clause'?
This is a clause sometimes inserted in a fixed-term tenancy, typically if the initial fixed-term is for a year or more. A break clause will usually be worded in such a way as to allow either landlord or tenant to give a set amount of written notice at any stage after a particular date or period of the tenancy, thus terminating the tenancy earlier than the end of the original fixed term.
5 - What about Repairs and Maintenance?
A landlord, has a legal responsibility to repair the structure and exterior of the property, keep in working order the installations for the supply of gas, electricity and water, and for the provision of space and water heating. The landlord also has other legal responsibilities relating to the safety of such items as gas, electricity and furnishings, as well as the general standard or fitness of the property for habitation.
A tenant must report disrepair promptly and take reasonable steps to ensure that neither the tenant nor guests damage the property or its fixtures and fittings. To do the minor day-to-day things any home-occupier would normally do.
6 - What about an Inventory/Schedule of Condition?
This is an absolutely essential document that provides a written benchmark which should be amended, updated and recreated before the beginning of each new tenancy. A properly constructed inventory/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
7 - What about Insurance?
A failure to inform your insurer that you are renting/letting a property could invalidate any subsequent claim. It is for a landlord to insure the building and his/her contents, fixtures and fittings.
The tenants are responsible for insuring any of their own possessions.
8 - Who is responsible for Council Tax, Water Rates and other Utilities?
A tenant becomes liable for payment of council tax, water rates (unless otherwise stated) and energy supplies upon commencement of the tenancy.