What to Look Out For in a Tenancy Agreement
Once you have seen the house you know you’ll love, you will want to sign the agreement and move in as soon as possible. However, before you place your signature on the dotted lines, there are a few things you need to look out for in the tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement is a binding contract between the landlord and yourself, and sets out the conditions and legal terms of your tenancy. It defines the type of tenancy you are going in for, whether it is a fixed-term lease that will run for a specific number of months or a periodic one that runs from week to week or month to month.
This document contains what the landlord expects of you and what their responsibilities are. These seemingly little details are a crucial part of your tenancy and will determine how your stay in the property will be. For example, you will want to know who has the responsibility for repairs, so that you don’t get stuck with bills you didn’t plan for. It also covers how much notice you will need to give if you want to cancel the tenancy. if there is one good reason for taking the time to go through the tenancy agreement, it is so you can understand exactly what is required of you as a tenant and when.
The tenancy agreement guide below will throw a bit more light on this important document.
Tenancy Agreements: a Guide for Tenants
As pointed out above, a tenancy agreement is a document that makes things clear between the prospective tenant and the landlord. As a tenant, it is vital you go through the agreement properly, to understand your requirements and responsibilities as a tenant and those of the landlord. This document essentially protects both the tenant and the landlord from any form of future unpleasantries. Most tenancy agreements follow a standard format, so there is the temptation to believe that once you have seen one, you’ve seen them all. However, it is still important that, as a tenant, you read the entire document to be sure of what is contained in it. This way, you can ask questions if you come across any point that you don’t understand.
Here are some details you should check that the agreement includes:
- You name and the joint tenant’s name (if applicable)
- The location and address of the rented property
- Landlord’s name and address, as well as that of the letting agent (if applicable)
- How much should be paid as rent, as well as when and where it should be paid
- The duration of the tenancy
- Details of any applicable deposit, what it covers, and the circumstances in which it may not be returned
- Conditions about how to end the tenancy
The tenancy agreement will also cover your responsibilities, and those of the landlord, all through the period of the tenancy. In most cases, as a tenant, your responsibilities include: reporting any necessary repairs to the landlord as soon as possible, keeping the environment clean and tidy, not causing damage to any part of the property, paying your rent when due, living peacefully with the neighbors (if available) and so on. The landlord is responsible for carrying out repairs and making sure that the property is safe and secure for the tenants who live there, as well as fulfilling their legal duties. Additionally, the agreement may contain a list of the furniture and fittings that will come with the property. These details will be contained in an inventory, along with the details of who to contact about repairs or replacement.
In a lot of cases, landlords do not allow smoking and pets in their properties. This is because of the risk associated with damage from fire and animals. Some landlords, however, have a more relaxed approach. Some may allow you to keep pets, but could then ask for a higher deposit or stipulate that you pay for professional cleaning at the expiration of your tenancy. These details are most likely contained in the tenancy agreement. In a situation where you must keep a pet, such as a guide dog for the blind or partially sighted, the landlord may be able to change the rules to accommodate you. However, ensure that whatever new arrangement you have with the landlord is covered in the tenancy agreement to avoid future disputes.
Most people will need to redecorate the property before moving in. While some landlords have no problem with tenants carrying out a few DIY projects on their property, others would rather handle it themselves or get the letting agency or management company in charge of the property see to it. This little detail may be missing in the tenancy agreement, so you will need to ask the landlord or letting agent directly if you can carry out any DIY or redecorate. If they say you can, ensure that this is covered in the agreement.
As you can see, there are a lot of details tenants need to take note of when renting a property and signing the tenancy agreement. To some people, these details might seem overwhelming, and they would rather rush through and sign the document without paying attention to the fine print, thereby potentially putting themselves at risk of complications and landlord/tenant dispute at a later date. If there is any part of the tenancy agreement that you are not sure of, it is important that you ask the landlord or letting agent to make those details clear for you. You should also know that it is against the law for any landlord to discriminate against you based on your gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, or if you are pregnant or disabled. It may be necessary to seek legal advice if you feel that you are being discriminated against, or if you feel a particular clause in the agreement is particularly unfair.
Types of Tenancy Agreements
There are a number of tenancy agreements designed for different circumstances. If you are a first-time tenant or you are new to buy-to-let, the different tenancy agreements might be confusing. A normal tenancy agreement must be written in plain, easy to understand English, and be devoid of any convoluted legal jargon that could confuse a layman. Two of the most common tenancy agreements you may come across as a tenant are: Contractual (non-AST) Tenancy Agreement and Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST). The following explanation will help you come to terms with these two tenancy agreement forms:
Contractual (non-AST) Tenancy Agreement
A non-assured tenancy agreement (non-AST) is an agreement that can be applied in particular situations. For instance, where the tenant has another home elsewhere, such as in a situation where the tenant lives with their family in another property on weekends, and uses the agreed property during the week only.
Another situation where this form of agreement applies is if the landlord lives in the property but does not share facilities and living accommodation with the tenant, such as where the landlord has their own home elsewhere in the property, but does not share bathroom facilities, toilet facilities, a kitchen or living room with the tenant.
Additionally, non–AST also applies when the rent for the property is no more than £250 per year.
In all of these cases, tenancy is not assured as you don’t have to pay the required deposit into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme, and you also don’t need to give a Section 21 or Section 8 Notice in order to end the tenancy. This type of system is called common law tenancy. where the tenancy starts as a fixed-term tenancy and the tenant can stay until the end of the term as long as they pay the rent when due and comply with the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Previously, this form of agreement could be used when the rent was above £25,000 per year. However, the maximum rent that can be collected for an assured tenancy was raised to £100,000 per year effective from 1st of October 2010. After that date, all tenancies where the rent fell between £25,001 and £100,000 were automatically converted to assured tenancies.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST)
AST is the most commonly-used form of tenancy agreement. It can be used for a variety of properties including flats, houses, and self-contained units. It can also be used for properties such as a house or flat that is rented to a group of people, i.e students or young professionals. This form of agreement was created by the Shorthold Tenancy Agreement in the Housing Act of 1988. Under this form of agreement, any deposit paid must be protected under a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. This form of agreement gives tenants what is known as long-term tenancy rights, but this fixed term tenancy automatically runs out at the end of the term unless the tenant and landlord agree to end it before its expiration. Any tenant operating under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement will be served a Section 8 notice in the event of an agreement breach or delay in rent.
Under AST agreement, a landlord is within their right to effect a possession order immediately after the initially agreed term, which is usually for a period of six months. This means that the landlord is able to evict the tenant at the expiration of the agreed six months (or longer) without any legal reason. In this situation, the landlord is obliged to give the tenant notice of at least 2 months before the end of their tenancy.
One of the requirements needed for this type of agreement is that the landlord and tenant both arrive at an agreement on the minimum length of term and the amount of rent. An AST agreement stipulates that a tenant is protected in terms of rent. This means that a tenant can challenge excessively high rent or a change on the initially agreed rent.
The Housing Act of 1988 puts in place these criteria for an AST to be set up:
- The property can only be let as a separate accommodation
- The property must be the tenant’s only or main home
- The tenant must be an individual
There are however some circumstances where it is not possible to use a shorthold tenancy. For example:
- When a property is more than £100,000 per annum
- When the property is let for very low rent or at no cost at all
- When the property is let as a secondary abode or holiday home
- When a property is let but the landlord also resides there
- When a property is let to a private company
- When a property is owned by the government or the Crown
- When a property is let for agricultural purposes
- When a property is let under a tenancy prior to the 15th of January 1989.
As pointed out earlier, an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement is usually arranged for an initial six month period. However, it can also be agreed for longer, e.g. twelve months. The tenant remains in the property for the initial fixed period, after which they and the landlord can decide to continue the arrangement of the tenant moving out of the property.
Tenancy Agreement Templates
To help you better understand how the two above agreements work, we will be looking at how these agreements are drawn up and what each of them contains. The following are essentially standard templates for these two types of agreement. However, there may be a few differences depending on the landlord or letting agency requirements and the circumstances surrounding the agreement and tenancy.
Sample of a Tenancy Agreement
Below are short samples of different tenancy agreements to give you an idea of what to expect.
Contractual (non-AST) Tenancy Agreement
Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST)
ASSURED SHORTHOLD TENANCY AGREEMENT
THIS TENANCY AGREEMENT (the “Agreement”) is made BETWEEN:
- [Name of landlord] of [home address of landlord] (the “Landlord”); and
- [Name of tenant] of [current address of tenant] (the “Tenant”).
IN RELATION TO THE PREMISES at:[full address of the premises] (the “Premises”). [note any exclusions should be specified above e.g. “excluding the adjacent storage shed”]
IT IS HEREBY AGREED as follows:
1.1 The Landlord lets the Premises to the Tenant for a fixed period of [length of tenancy e.g. 12] months (the “Fixed Period”), starting on and including [start date of tenancy]. Following the expiration of the Fixed Period, the tenancy shall thereafter continue, still subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, from month to month unless or until the Tenant gives a written notice of not less than one month to the Landlord (which will expire at the end of a rental period), or the Landlord serves on the Tenant a notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
2.1 The Tenant shall pay to the Landlord a rent of [monthly rent e.g. £1000] per month (the “Rent”).
2.2 The first Rent payment shall be made on [date of first rent payment], and thereafter monthly in advance on the [day of each month e.g. 1st] day of each month by [method of payment e.g. standing order into the Landlord’s bank account].
3.1 The Tenant shall pay to the Landlord upon the signing of this Agreement a deposit of [deposit amount e.g. £1000] (the “Deposit”) which shall be held by a government backed security deposit scheme. At the end of the tenancy, the Deposit shall be returned to the Tenant subject to any deductions made in accordance with this Agreement.
- Fittings and Fixtures
4.1 The tenancy shall include the fixtures and fittings in the Premises including all items specified in the inventory attached.
- Type of Tenancy
5.1 This Agreement is intended to create an Assured Shorthold Tenancy as defined in the Housing Act 1988 (as amended) and the provisions for the recovery of possession by the Landlord in that Act apply accordingly.
- Tenant’s Obligations
6.1 The Tenant shall:
(a) pay Rent at the times and when due in the manner aforesaid;
(b) pay all charges in respect of any utility bills such as electric, gas, water, telephonic and televisual services used or supplied to the Premises and Local Council Tax or similar property tax that might be charged during the term of the tenancy;
(c) keep all fixtures and fittings, including all items on the attached inventory, and the interior of the Premises proper condition and not damage or injure the Premises including the fixtures and fittings, or the items on the attached inventory (excep fair wear and tear);
(d) yield up to the Landlord the Premises including the fixtures and fittings, the items on the attached inventory, and all keys and security devices, at the end of the tenancy;
(e) not make any alteration to the Premises including the fixtures and fittings, locks, or any other items belonging to the Landlord, without the written consent of the Landlord;
(f) not do anything at the Premises which:
(i) may be or become a nuisance or annoyance to any other occupiers in and of adjoining or nearby premises;
(ii) is illegal or immoral; or
(iii) may in any way affect the legitimacy of any insurance of the Premises or the items listed on the attached inventory;
(g) shall not keep pets or any other kind of animal on the premises without the Landlord’s prior consent which shall not be unreasonably withheld;
(h) not use or occupy the Premises in any way whatsoever other than for that which it was taken for;
(i) not sublet , assign, or share occupation of the Premises, or allow paying guests, lodgers, family or children to occupy or reside in the Premises without the Landlord’s prior written consent;
Scottish Government Model Tenancy Agreement
As a landlord, letting agent, or tenant in Scotland, it is necessary to know of the changes that are being made to the law concerning properties. For instance, from December 1, 2017, a new tenancy agreement called the Private Residential Tenancy replaced the assured and short assured tenancy agreements for new tenants. This means that tenancies from this date will last for as long as the tenant wishes to stay or until the landlord uses any of the 18 grounds for eviction to repossess the property. However, for tenancies already existing before that date, the new law will not take effect until the current tenancy term comes to an end. To help landlords and tenants better understand the new system, the government has produced what is known as a Model Tenancy Agreement that includes the standard tenancy terms and the clauses that can warrant an eviction. The model tenancy agreement is made up of two sections. The first section contains the core rights and obligations, which include the statutory tenancy terms such as deposits and repairs. The second section contains discretionary terms which the landlord may opt not to display in the agreement. it also include all other terms and conditions the landlord wants the tenant to be aware of.
Tenancy Agreements: A Guide for Landlords
A tenancy agreement is a binding contract between you (The Landlord) and your tenants. It defines the terms and conditions under which your property is let. It can either be written down or oral, but in most cases, it is written down, signed and witnessed.
A tenancy agreement normally runs for a fixed term (usually between six months to a year) or periodic (usually week to week or month to month).
Whether there is a tenancy agreement or not, both the landlord and the tenants have certain expectations and responsibilities. For instance, the tenants expect that the property will be kept in good repair over the course of their term while the landlord expects that the tenants will be prompt with rent and live responsibly in the property.
The following will serve as a guide for landlords in respect to accepting tenants and drawing up the right tenancy agreement.
Landlord Help and Advice
As earlier pointed out, the most common form of tenancy agreement is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy which applies if you are renting out to private individuals, if the property is your tenant’s primary accommodation, if you don’t live on the property, and/or if the tenancy began after the 15th of January 1989. Another common tenancy agreement is the Contractual or non-AST tenancy agreement. Each of these agreements are suitable for different circumstances.
Apart from basic information such as the name of the tenant or tenants and landlord, the address of the property, rent and amount to be paid as deposit, the agreement will also carry important details such as who is responsible for repairs on the property (including the repairs that are the responsibility of the landlord), rules concerning ending of the tenancy, including if the tenant is allowed to end it before the due date, and whether the tenants are allowed to sublet or bring in other people into their part of the property.
If a tenant is required to make a deposit before taking possession of the property, you have to let them know if and how you intend to protect their deposit. You need to bear in mind that once you have taken a tenant’s deposit, you are expected to protect the money with one of the government backed deposit protection schemes, except in the case of a non assured tenancy where you are not required to protect the money. Placing the deposit in a government backed scheme is in the interest of both the landlord and tenant. However, the tenant needs to be told about this so that the paperwork can be completed.
As a landlord, it is important to note that no part of your tenancy agreement can be interpreted to show discrimination in any form, such as in respect to age, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or disability. If, for instance, a prospective tenant is blind or partially sighted and has a guide dog, but your tenancy agreement does not allow pets in the house, you will have to change the terms to accommodate guide dogs on the property unless you have a very serious reason not to, such as another tenant with a strong allergy to dogs.
Every part of your tenancy agreement must also comply with current laws.
If during the course of the tenant’s term, you decide to modify any part of the agreement, you may need to get the agreement of the tenants involved. Failure to do so can expose you to legal liabilities.
In a situation where you have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement with any tenant, you are within your right to take back your property at the end of the term without giving any reason. However, before you can do this, the following conditions must apply:
- The tenant’s deposit is protected in a government backed tenancy deposit scheme.
- You have given the affected tenant at least two months written notice before the expiration of their term, informing them that you want your property back and the day they are expected to leave.
- The eviction must happen at least 6 months after they take possession of the property.
- They have a periodic tenancy that runs week to week or month to month, or they have a fixed tenancy but you are not asking them to leave until the end of the agreed term.
However, there are reasons under the Housing Act of 1988 that qualify someone for an eviction before the end of the their term. Some of these reasons include:
- The tenant is behind in rent and unable to pay.
- The tenant is using the property for unlawful activities such as selling drugs.
- The tenant carries out activities that put the property or the lives of other tenants in danger.
In most cases, you must give a 2 months’ notice either orally or in writing, but preferably in writing to avoid disputes in future.
Regardless of the reason for eviction, you cannot remove a tenant with force. If the tenant has refused to leave at the expiration of the notice period, your next step will be to start the process of eviction through the law courts.
Even though there is a fixed agreed term between landlords and tenants, the tenant can leave before the expiration of term without paying the full rent if there is a breach in the terms that the tenancy agreed upon. They can also leave if you agree to an early termination of the tenancy period. The tenant can also opt to move out at the expiration of their lease after giving due notice.
It is vital that both parties (landlord and tenant) are in total agreement before the tenancy agreement is finally signed. If there is any part of the tenancy agreement that cannot be agreed upon, the issue should be resolved well before the start of the tenancy period. The landlord and tenant should both have a copy of the signed tenancy agreement as this can be used in the future to clarify any misunderstanding. Even though, as the landlord, you are within your rights to include your own terms and conditions in the agreement outside the standard format, it is important that you are fair to all the parties involved. Whatever agreement you draw up should always meet the current accepted standards, as this is a legal document. It is essential that your tenancy agreement covers all the points highlighted in this guide and clearly covers details of rent, mode of payment, and any required rental deposit. Very few landlords draw up the tenancy agreement themselves. Even though it contains easy to understand language, they would rather make use of a qualified legal expert or lawyer to draw up their agreement, so that they can be sure it covers all possible angles and contains everything required by law.
Affordable Tenancy Agreement Fees
Setting up and maintaining a tenancy involves a lot of work and resources, this is why the tenant is expected to make some payments in the process of renting a property. Some of these payments will include a tenancy set up fee, guarantor fee, deposit and so on. Some of these fees will be used to cover the cost of tenant referencing, which will cover the checking of credit status, current and past landlords, previous employers, and any other piece of information that will assist the landlord in determining if you are suitable for the property. The fees also include drawing up and providing a tenancy agreement and protecting the tenants’ deposit in a government backed deposit protection scheme. The landlord is expected to cover a share of the cost of setting up a tenancy.
It is, however, important that landlords and letting agents fix an affordable tenancy agreement fee for tenants. As a matter of fact, the law frowns on charging tenants exorbitant fees.
However, not too long from now, the government plans to make some changes to how landlords and letting agents let properties in England. At the center of this change is a proposed ban on tenant fees. If this change is effected, landlords will no longer be able to charge the tenant for referencing, inventory, and other expenses not associated with the rent, tenancy deposit and/or holding deposit.
Details you Need to Complete your Tenancy Agreement
Once both parties are in agreement with the content of the tenancy agreement, the next step is to sign it. While the details of each agreement can differ, the standard format is the same. Below are some of the details you are likely to find in a tenancy agreement:
This is where the landlord and tenant will put their respective names. In cases where there are joint or co-tenants renting the property, their names will also be represented here. In some tenancy agreements, the tenant may be required to fill in other details such as date of birth, next of kin and an address where someone can be reached if there is need.
This is where details of the property to be rented will come in. Here, the landlord or letting agent will put the address of the property including the designation of the particular flat if available.
Most properties in England come with furnishings and fixtures as part of the package. If that is the case with the property in question, the landlord or letting agent, accompanied by the tenant, will take an inventory of the available furnishings. These details will be contained in the tenancy agreement or in a separate inventory document which will be referred to in the tenancy agreement.
House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
If your property contains more than one tenant and all of them share facilities such as the toilet and kitchen, the rules concerning how these different households will peacefully share these facilities and co-exist will be contained in the tenancy agreement.
Tenancy start date
The date the tenancy period starts. In most cases, the tenancy start date begins once the tenant has signed the tenancy agreement. However, in some cases, the period starts only when the tenant has taken possession of the property. If the tenant does not intend to use the property as a primary residence, and will not be moving in immediately, the landlord and the tenant will have to agree on a suitable date for the tenancy to begin.
This concerns information on how and when the rent will be received. Depending on the type of tenancy agreement, it can be anything from four weeks to six months.
First payment deposit
This covers how much the tenant will pay for the first deposit. While there is no fixed sum for the initial deposit, most landlords or letting agents usually peg it at 10% of the total rent or six weeks rent.
The tenancy agreement will detail how the landlord and tenant will contact each other if the need arises, such as when there is something that needs to be repaired and so on.
In a situation where the property is managed by a letting agency or property management company, the details of this company will be contained in the tenancy agreement. If this is the case, then any repairs or alterations will likely be reported to the individual whose name is listed here.
Notification about other residents
In a situation where there are other residents living on the property, the rules and regulations guiding proper conduct and the need for peaceful co-existence between neighbors will be covered here. This part will also cover actions that can be taken by the landlord if the rules are broken.
Ending the tenancy
This determines how the tenancy can be ended and the conditions that can warrant a change in the defined process. For instance, the landlord can request for an early end to the tenancy if they discover that the tenant is using the property for illegal reasons. The tenant can also request for an end if there is a breach in agreement.
In the event that the tenant is interested in an extra term at the end of their initial tenancy term, the provisions contained here will apply. In some cases, a review of the agreement is necessary for a new term.
Contents and condition
Every landlord has a set of rules and conditions that tenants must keep to during their tenancy period. All these terms and conditions will be listed in the tenancy agreement. Both parties will, however, need to agree on the terms and conditions before signing, so as to avoid any dispute in future.
Local authority taxes/charges
This contains information about any local taxes and charges that the tenant will be responsible for.
Some landlords are okay with tenants carrying out minor modifications on their property, others are not. Details about repairs, DIY, redecoration and so on will be covered here.
In a situation where there are other tenants in the property, the tenancy agreement will cover the use and maintenance of common parts such as the driveway, stairwell, walkways and so on.
If the property contains a private garden, information about its use and maintenance will be covered in the tenancy agreement.
If the property has a roof that can accessed, the tenancy agreement will cover its use, maintenance, and security.
Bins and recycling
Refuse disposal and recycling, how often this should happen, and the implications of not meeting up with the local authority approved standard.
If the property comes with a storage facility, such as a basement, attic, garage or storage shed, the tenancy agreement will cover details on the conditions of their use.
Every landlord and letting agent frowns on the use of dangerous substances in their property. It is safe to assume that the tenancy agreement will completely ban or discourage the use of such substances in the property.
If the landlord allows pets in the property, it will be contained in the agreement. If they do not, that will also be contained in the agreement. However, under certain conditions, the landlord can be made to change the rules concerning the acceptance, or not, of pets.
The tenancy agreement will also contain information about whether tenants are allowed to smoke in the property. It is important to point out, though, that not many landlords allow smoking on their property because of the risk of fire and the damage to furnishings caused by cigarette smoke.
Summary must include terms
Other elements of the tenancy agreement may include details such as the latest a tenant can stay out at night, whether the property can be let to someone else, or whether the tenant can take in lodgers. All of these details must first be discussed and agreed upon by both the tenant and the landlord, before the final signing and moving in. This way, everyone is aware of their expectations and responsibilities.
Submitting a Tenancy Agreement
It is important that a tenancy agreement is completed, signed, and submitted before the tenancy term begins. This way, both the landlord and tenant know what is expected of them. It is advisable that both parties keep a copy of the tenancy agreement so that it can be referred to in the future if there is any misunderstanding or dispute.
Evictions and Noticies
During or after the term of a tenancy, a landlord may feel the need to repossess their property from the tenant. To do this, the landlord will need to start an eviction process. The process involves giving the tenant a written notice of eviction anytime between two months and two weeks of the due date, depending on the circumstances surrounding the eviction.
If the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy, the landlord is expected to give the affected tenant a Section 21 notice if they want their property back before the end of the tenancy term. If it happens that the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement, then the landlord is expected to give them a Section 8 notice. If the tenants refuse to leave at the end of the notice period, the landlord can apply to the law courts for a standard processing order. A landlord can also evict tenants under mandatory and discretionary grounds. If the reasons for a mandatory ground of possession of eviction is satisfactory, the court will grant an outright possession order and the sheriff must carry out the eviction. On the other hand, if a discretionary ground is used, the sheriff has the discretion to determine if the possession order is reasonable or not.
The following guide will help you better understand the eviction process.
Mandatory Eviction Grounds
These are grounds for mandatory possession. For the first five grounds, the landlord is required to give notice to the tenants before the tenancy term begins, informing them that the property may be possessed for any of the stated reasons. The remaining three grounds do not require that a reason be given.
- The property may be repossessed if the landlord previously used it as a principal residence and plans to do so again.
- The property may be repossessed if the mortgage lender plans to take over the property.
- The property may be repossessed if the tenancy term is no more than eight months and the property has been used as a holiday residence at some point before the start of the current tenancy.
- The property may be repossessed if it is to be used for education purposes.
- The property may be repossessed if it is to be made available for occupation by a clergy or religious minister, provided the court is satisfied with the purpose it is required for.
- The property may be repossessed if there is substantial building work or renovation to be carried out, provided it is proven that the tenants must vacate the property for the work to commence.
- The property can be repossessed in the event of the death of the tenant.
- The property can be repossessed if there is a case of serious rent arrears, at least eight weeks past the due date. This is the most common reason cited for possession.
Discretionary Eviction Grounds
The landlord may also seek possession of the property based on issues that may arise as a result of the tenancy agreement between the landlord and tenant. In cases like this, the decision is left to the discretion of the court. Here are the grounds that warrant discretionary eviction:
- In a situation where the landlord has offered a suitable alternative accommodation and is willing to cover the costs of moving.
- Where the tenant has given notice to leave but remains in the property after the expiration of the due date. The landlord must, however, start proceedings no later than six months of the notice expiration.
- Where the tenant is always late in paying rent.
- Where the tenant owes rent in arrears on the date when notice was served and when the proceedings began.
- In a situation where there is a breach in the tenancy agreement between the landlord and tenant other than the responsibility to pay rent.
- Where there is obvious damage to the property due to negligence on the part of the tenant.
- Where the tenant or those living with them has caused a nuisance to other tenants in the property or the tenant has been convicted by a court of illegal activities in the property.
- Where there is damage or deterioration in the furniture and fittings as a result of the negligence of the tenant.
- Where the property was let as a result of the tenant’s employment and the tenant is no longer in that employment.
A landlord can use just one of these situations, or several, to apply to seek grounds for repossession. It is, however, advisable to seek legal counsel if you are considering any legal action against a tenant.
Housing notices are notices or information given to tenants in a property, letting them know of any major repairs to be carried out. it is advisable to give the notice long before the repairs are to start, so that tenants can make arrangement for alternative lodgings. These notices will typically entail the nature of the job, the expected duration, and how it is going to affect the tenants. Extensive repairs may warrant that the landlord take back possession of the property from the tenants, and these details will be contained in the notice. In some cases, this notice comes from the local authority for statutory repair and not the landlord.
Ending a Tenancy Agreement
As pointed out earlier, in cases where the tenancy term has not expired or where a fixed tenancy agreement is in place, the landlord and tenant will have to agree on ending the tenancy agreement. However, a fixed term tenancy can also be ended without mutual agreement if there is a breach in the tenancy agreement by either party. Some tenancy agreements carry a break clause that allows a fixed term tenancy to be ended before the end of the term. This break clause specifies when the clause can be applied and how much notice can be given. The tenant is not required to seek the landlord’s permission as long as a break clause is in the agreement. However, they must give notice in writing as indicated in the agreement and, if possible, get a confirmation receipt.
The general rule surrounding ending a tenancy agreement is that the tenant is expected to leave the property in the same condition they first had it in, allowing for wear and tear. This means that, aside from the expected wear and tear, the property should be handed over in the same clean and organized state it was received in. The tenants may have to engage the services of professional cleaners or be willing to forfeit all or part of their security deposit if otherwise.
For tenants with periodic tenancy, they can end their tenancy at any time without seeking the landlord’s permission. However, if they plan on leaving before the end of a particular period, they may have to pay the rent up until the end of the period. The tenancy agreement will carry the amount of notice both parties will need to give.