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What Should You Look Out for in a Tenancy Agreement?

17 May 2021 Simon Banks Read time: 2 min
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Simon Banks

The tenancy agreement is the most important part of moving into a new place. It sets the terms of your tenancy and provides you with certain protections while you live in your home. Most tenancy agreements are similar, especially if you have an assured shorthold tenancy, which is the standard agreement. 

But it’s one thing having a tenancy agreement; it’s another to understand the details and key parts of it. In this guide, we’re delving deeper into tenancy agreements to bring you the key things you need to look out for before signing one. 

Deposits

Deposits play a key role in renting, with the majority of renters required to pay five week’s rent before they move in as a security deposit. This is then held in a protected government-approved scheme and released to you once you vacate the property, assuming there is no damage.

The tenancy agreement will set out the terms of the security deposit and outline scenarios where it may be partially or fully withheld. For example, it should state that any damage caused by the renter could see them lose some or all of their deposit. If this happens to you and you believe you’re not at fault, you can appeal to the deposit scheme, which will make an unbiased decision. 

Repairs, maintenance and decorating 

Repairs and maintenance are an essential factor in a tenancy, and the agreement will state who’s responsible for fixing issues around the home. It may be that the landlord is happy for you to carry out smaller DIY tasks, or they might prefer that you report all problems to them so they can be fixed professionally. 

Whether or not you can decorate the property will also be stated in the tenancy agreement, along with rules about hanging wall artitems of furniture included in the property and garden maintenance if there is an outside space.

Special clauses

Both renter and landlord need to be on the same page during a tenancy, and the official agreement between the two of you can include special clauses that help layout specific details. These might be rules around smoking or having pets, though legislation around the latter is set to change soon. 

There may also be obligations about cleaning, especially at the end of the tenancy. Rental payment information may also be included, as the landlord might prefer a specific way to receive the rent.

Bills and rent payment

The tenancy agreement will state which bills you are liable for and if the landlord is required to pay any. Sometimes bills are included in the rent, but more often than not, they are a separate responsibility for the renter. 

You will also need to pay the council tax unless otherwise stated. Lastly, the agreement will indicate the due date for the rent each month and how it will be paid, as well as the start and end dates of the tenancy. 

Subletting

The tenancy agreement should make it clear whether or not you can sublet the property. In most cases, subletting is forbidden by the landlord. However, there may be some scenarios where they are happy for you to sublet the home. 

Whether you can sublet or not is entirely down to the landlord, and it should be made apparent in your tenancy agreement. There may also be different forms of subletting, with landlords offering different stipulations. 

Notice

The tenancy agreement will also indicate how much notice you need to give if you would like to end your tenancy. If you’re in a fixed-term AST, you will be liable to pay the remaining rent should you wish to leave early. 

There may be a break clause, however. This would typically come into effect midway through the tenancy. Break clauses aren’t mandatory, though, so either you or the landlord would need to negotiate one before the tenancy begins. 

Things to think about before crossing the i’s and dotting the t’s

Moving into a new home is an exciting time for anyone, but it’s important that you do it properly. That means reading the tenancy agreement and highlighting anything you’re not happy with or have questions about. Before you sign, you can potentially get some aspects of the agreement changed. So make sure you read thoroughly, as doing so will lead to a happier tenancy when you move into your new home.

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