The most important document for a tenant should be their Tenancy Agreement, as this should list the major rights they are entitled to.
These rights include:
- Quiet enjoyment of their home. The landlord should provide the tenant with at least 24 hour notice of entry.
- The landlord cannot legally evict the tenant without a possession order from the court
- Notice must be given of any rental increase
- A landlord must not harass a tenant – this can include withdrawal of services, withholding of keys, failure to carry out repairs and using threats or physical violence.
The landlord should provide tenants with a Tenancy Agreement when they agree to rent their property.
A Tenancy Agreement is an agreement between tenant and landlord where, in return for rent, you can live in their property as your home. Tenancies are normally Assured Shorthold and must have an initial fixed term of a minimum of six (6) months, although they can be for longer than this if the landlord prefers. The landlord should give the tenant a copy of the Agreement and should keep a counterpart copy for himself or herself.
Both parties should read the Tenancy Agreement through carefully before signing it. It is a legal document and legally binding and both parties are agreeing to abide by the terms written in it. Any changes to the Agreement should be decided between the landlord and tenant and written into the document before signature.
Agreements should contain information such as:
- the name of the landlord and where he can be contacted,
- how much the rent is
- whether it is to be paid weekly or monthly
- when the tenancy begins
- how long it is for
- whether property is furnished or unfurnished
- any rules regarding such things as whether pets are allowed or not,
- who is responsible for decorating etc.
Once the fixed period of the tenancy has expired, the tenancy will then become a Periodic Tenancy whereby the tenants have the right to continue to live in the property and all the terms and conditions of the original agreement still stand.
Alternatively, the landlord may grant a further tenancy on a fixed-term basis. If the tenants wish to leave the property they should give the landlord four weeks notice.
If the landlord wishes the tenant to leave he must give them two months notice that he requires possession. He can give the tenant notice during the fixed term but the notice period cannot end before the end of the fixed term, provided the tenant does not break the rules of the Tenancy Agreement.