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Landlords need to understand tenancy agreements Tue, 10 Jun 2014 18:21

Hardly any document has more importance to a landlord than the tenancy agreement. As the document outlining the terms of any arrangement with a tenant, the tenancy agreement has major implications. A failure to understand them is a frequent cause of a landlord needing to sell a rental house to a cash buyer of property like Dream House Buyer.


As a landlord, you therefore need to be well-informed on the various types of tenancy, and only enter a tenancy agreement after receiving independent legal advice. The most common tenancy type is the assured shorthold tenancy (AST) - all new tenancies are ASTs by default. A private tenancy that begun on or after 15 January 1989 will probably be an AST. Landlords wishing to regain possession of the property during the tenancy can use a Section 8 Notice to Quit, or a Section 21 Notice to Quit if at the end of a tenancy.


Less common is the assured tenancy, which mainly differs from an AST in that it does not last for a specified time period. Landlords unsurprisingly aren't often fans of assured tenancies, given the right they essentially give the tenant to remain in the property until the landlord can prove reasonable grounds for possession in court. Such agreements are attractive to tenants, however, because of the extra security they provide.


With assured shorthold tenancies able to run periodically or for a fixed term, it is important to appreciate how the two differ. A fixed term - such as six or 12 months - is customary for most tenancies. However, there isn't necessarily an automatic requirement for the tenant to leave on the completion of a term. Instead, fixed term tenancies that come to an end are generally immediately replaced with a new, periodic tenancy. This tenancy runs for the period between rent payments, meaning that it runs from month to month if rent is paid monthly, for example.


Nor do tenants intending to leave once a fixed term tenancy comes to an end need to give notice, whereas if they have a periodic tenancy, notice will normally be required equivalent to the period of the tenancy.


Irrespective of the type of tenancy agreement, the tenant enjoys certain rights that must be respected by a landlord. These include the legal right to live undisturbed in the property, as well as to expect the accommodation to be in a good state of repair. This makes it necessary for a landlord to carry out reasonable maintenance. Tenants are also legally protected from unfair rent and excessive charges.


The legally binding nature of a tenancy agreement makes it essential for a landlord to understand its terms prior to signing. To avoid the need to sell a rental house further down the line due to a failure to grasp a particular tenancy's implications, you should therefore always obtain independent legal advice. 

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