Fear not if you haven’t received a formal written tenancy agreement document from your landlord, in some cases a verbal agreement is struck between a landlord and a tenant and although not ideal, they are still regulated by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
It is important to understand that even a written tenancy agreement will not always include the full extent of what is needed according to the law. However, any key rights or responsibilities your landlord should be taking into account will always be protected by the official legislation set down in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, even if they aren’t included in the tenancy agreement.
For those tenants that don’t even have a verbal agreement in place with their landlord, they are still protected under the law as long as they are paying their rent regularly, as this acknowledges there is a tenancy in place which exists.
What Are Landlord’s Statutory Duties?
Even if you don’t have an AST or oral agreement in place with a landlord, they will still be bound by the legislation in the aforementioned 1985 Act and the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Under the 1977 Act, a landlord can only evict a tenant if they have obtained a possession order first.
Landlords will need to meet:
- Gas safety regulations
- Furniture and furnishings regulations
- Consumer safety regulations
- Health and safety regulations – which also apply for HMO landlords under the Housing Act of 2004
For a full list of duties and obligations, landlords are responsible for, read our page here.
How Can I Get My Deposit Returned Without A Tenancy Agreement?
Tenants without an AST in place will naturally be concerned about how their deposit will be protected over the course of their time living at the property. However, they should be reassured that as the money belongs to them, their landlord can’t take any deductions without their authorisation and signed agreement which usually would be the tenancy agreement.
If there is no tenancy agreement in place then the landlord has no right to deduct money from the tenant’s deposit, even if the tenant leaves the property in a complete shambles when they move out.
If the landlord does try to deduct money from the tenant then the tenant will be able to dispute this deduction and they will succeed when the case comes to the adjudication stage.
So in this instance, having a tenancy agreement in place not only protects the tenant but it will also protect the landlord as well.
Can I Get Evicted With No Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
If there is no tenancy agreement in place then landlords will be unable to evict their tenants using the accelerated procedure for possession and as previously mentioned, under the 1977 Act, the landlord will have to have obtained the possession order first.
The Accelerated procedure to evict a tenant is the easiest and most suitable option for landlords, that don’t want to wait for a court hearing under Section 21, but as this is a procedure that depends on having the correct paperwork in place, if there is no existing AST then it can’t be used.
All is not lost, as if a landlord wanted to evict their tenant without having an AST then they can attend a court hearing in order to explain to the judge why there isn’t an AST and why they want the tenant evicted.
What Are Tenant’s Obligations Without An AST?
Even though there isn’t an AST in place, the tenants living at the property will still need to abide by their obligations such as:
- Not subletting the property without their landlord’s permission
- Not carry out any improvement works or alterations without their landlord’s permission
- Allow their landlord access to the property in order to inspect it, provided with 24 hours written notice from the landlord
Even if there is no written AST in place, the tenancy does still exist without one and both parties will still have their basic, statutory rights intact. Without an AST the landlord will be the most disadvantaged compared to their tenants, as their tenants can leave quickly and their rental income isn’t guaranteed in the longer term.
Can I Receive DSS Payments with a Tenancy Agreement?
When drawing up the AST, landlords can add an extra clause relating to DSS payments, specifying that applicant tenants receiving DSS payments should give their consent for the landlord to contact the council regarding their situation. It is also worth adding that the tenant should pay their DSS payment directly to the landlord, as the new regulations surrounding housing benefits state that a direct payment must be in place in order to secure a tenancy. The council will appreciate this added clause, as they will also be following the new regulations when paying the DSS funding to the tenant in question. Aside from this, the rest of the statutory rights maintained in an AST should remain unchanged for both the landlord and the tenant.
The council will appreciate this added clause, as they will also be following the new regulations when paying the DSS funding to the tenant in question. Aside from this, the rest of the statutory rights maintained in an AST should remain unchanged for both the landlord and the tenant.
It is advisable that landlords considering taking on DSS paying tenants should get written permission from the tenant before they move in, stating that they can discuss their personal situation and benefits with the council. If this isn’t obtained, then the council has the right to refuse to discuss these details with them under data protection laws.
Landlords considering taking on DSS or tenants on low income or unemployed and receiving housing benefits, should make themselves aware of their Local Housing Authority (LHA). The LHA is responsible for managing housing benefit payments in the local area and they also determine how much money is to be paid to each tenant, which depends on whether they are renting from a private landlord or the local council.
Why is it important to have an AST?
Having an AST in place protects landlords by way of there being a formal agreement between themselves and their tenants regarding the basics of the tenancy. Details such as the rent and when it should be paid, who is responsible for repairs, details of rent increases, the length of the tenancy and details of how the deposit will be managed throughout the tenancy.
It is always advisable when entering a transaction where money is exchanged between two parties to have a written contract in place to protect either party’s statutory rights and to have as evidence should a dispute arise throughout the course of the tenancy.
Although a tenant will still have rights and protections in place, landlords shouldn’t allow a tenant to live at their property if there is no written agreement in place, as this will leave them exposed to great risk.
Having an AST in place protects tenants from unprofessional landlords as the details of the tenancy are in a written contract, such as when the rent is to be paid and how much it is, how their deposit will be looked after during the tenancy and who is responsible for repairs, as sometimes tenants will be required to foot the bill depending on what type of damage has been done.
Tenants will be able to have their statutory rights better protected from illegal evictions, rent rises and if their landlord refuses to maintain the property in line with current health and safety standards. Landlords must also give information regarding the property such as EPC for the property, their contact details and address, should they need to contact the landlord etc.
Having an AST in place means that it is a lot harder for a landlord to evict tenants and their right to live at the property is better protected by law. It is always advisable for tenants to have an AST agreement with their landlord, however, bear in mind that when the tenancy agreement runs out and tenants request for a new one, this could mean paying a renewal fee and a rent increase.