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A tenancy agreement is a legal agreement between a landlord and their tenant outlining the rights and responsibilities of each party during the tenancy. This is a legal contract that is a written record of the agreement between the parties and is there to protect the legal rights of both sides. 

What is a Fixed or Periodic tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a contract that can be either written or verbal between a landlord and a tenant. Tenancy agreements set out the terms and conditions for the tenancy and can be either:

  • Fixed term
  • Periodic (run weekly or monthly)

A tenancy agreement protects the rights of the parties. For tenants this includes the right to:

  • The property being safe and in a good state of repairs
  • Live in the property undisturbed 
  • Have protection against unfair eviction or rent and the right to challenge excessively high charges
  • Make sure their deposit is returned at the end of the tenancy and in certain cases have it protected
  • Have sight of an Energy Performance Certificate 
  • A written agreement for a fixed term tenancy of more than three years
  • Know who the landlord is
  • Protection against discrimination

Landlords rights are also protected, such as the right to:

  • Access the property to inspect it and carry out repairs. They must give notice and come at a reasonable time unless it is an emergency
  • To have the rent paid
  • The property being taken care of and any damage caused by the tenant or their visitors being repaired or paid for
  • Other charges being paid that are included in the agreement, for example, council tax
  • The property not being sublet unless it is expressly allowed in the tenancy agreement
  • Evict a tenant that does not fulfil their responsibilities

If either side find that their rights have been breached by the other side, then it is important to take legal advice from specialist property lawyers to ensure the best outcome in your case.

What should a tenancy agreement include?

The tenancy agreement needs to specify the type of agreement that has been entered into. It must also include the following information

  • Details of the landlord and tenant
  • Address of the relevant property
  • The date that the tenancy will commence and how long it is intended to run for
  • The rent arrangements including what the amount is, when it will be paid and when rent increases can occur
  • Details of any deposit including how it will be protected and whether it can be fully or partly withheld
  • The notice period for ending the tenancy
  • If any bills or utilities are included
  • Whether the landlord will provide any additional services and if there is a charge for this
  • Any obligations of the tenant or landlord

The tenancy agreement can also include whether the property can be sublet and who is responsible for minor repairs.

What types of tenancy agreement are there?

There are various forms of tenancy that can be used.

Assured shorthold tenancies (AST)

This is the most common form of tenancy. It allows the landlord to reclaim the property at the end of the agreement, although they must give at least two months notice. Deposits have to be protected in a government-approved scheme. Tenants also have a degree of protection against rent increases in the initial fixed term review period, depending on whether there is a rent review clause.

Not all tenancies can be an AST, and it is only possible where:
•    It is a private rental and the tenancy started after 15 January 1989
•    It is the tenants main accommodation and the landlord does not live in the property
•    The rent is more than £250 a year (£1000 in London) and less than £100,000 a year 
•    It is not a holiday let
•    The landlord is not the local council 
•    It is not a business or licensed premises tenancy

Assured tenancies

If the tenancy was between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 then this type of tenancy is possible and offers increased protection from eviction.

Regulated tenancies

If the tenancy started before 15 January 1989 then it may be regulated, which offers increased protection from eviction and the right to apply for a fair rent, which is independently assessed and is the maximum that a landlord can then charge for the property (even if the tenancy agreement has a higher amount).

Excluded tenancies

These apply where a tenant rents a room but shares other rooms such as the kitchen or bathroom with the landlord. This type of tenancy offers less protection from eviction.

What is a protected tenancy?

Protected tenancies are those that started before 15 January 1989, when the relevant legislation was the Rent Act 1977 for governing tenancies. Tenants had very strong rights under these type of tenancies:

  • Protected tenants could apply for fair rent, which was assessed by the Valuation Office and usually less than the market rent for the property
  • There was security of tenure, which meant most tenants could not be evicted unless they failed to pay rent
  • They also had succession rights to pass on the tenancy to their spouse and sometimes family member who inherited the rights to an assured tenancy

None have been created sine January 1989 but there are still a lot in existence. 

How do you end or change a tenancy agreement?

Where the landlord wishes to end the tenancy, then they need to give the required amount of notice for the particular type of tenancy. If you are still in the fixed term period, then this is only possible for set reasons such as the tenants being behind with their rent or having used the premises for illegal activities. 

If there is a break clause, then the landlord can ask the tenant to leave by giving notice once this period has passed.

A tenant must also pay rent until the end of the fixed term period. After this they are allowed to move out early if they can come to an agreement with the landlord or there is a break clause in the agreement. A tenant can also leave after giving the relevant notice. 

If either party wishes to change the agreement, then the other side needs to agree and this needs to be done by either updating the current agreement or writing a new one. 

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.

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