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Tenancy Agreements And Contracts: Your Checklist Guide

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and a tenant detailing the terms and conditions of their rental agreement.

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There are different types of tenancy agreements but the most common by far is called an ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancy’, also known as an AST. The majority of private tenancies will automatically be ASTs, even if there is no written tenancy agreement.

An AST can be for a fixed term or ‘periodic’, meaning that the contract rolls from week to week or month to month.  If a fixed term has ended and another one has not been agreed at expiry, the tenancy will continue on a rolling contract basis.

 

What should I consider when looking for rented accommodation?

You should carefully consider the following:

  1. How long do you want to stay in the property? You can ask for a tenancy agreement to be between six months and seven years long.
  2. How much can you realistically afford? Sit down and work out your outgoings and also carefully consider how much any letting agent fees will cost or the deposit. Who is going to be responsible for the bills?
  3. Deposit protection. Check that the landlord will protect your deposit by placing it in a government approved scheme.
  4. Who is renting the property? Is your landlord subletting? Is it managed by a company? Find out exactly who you need to speak to, should the property require repairs or you have any issues.
  5. Is the property mortgaged? You should be told about this upfront as you may be asked to leave the property if your landlord does not keep up with their mortgage repayments.

 

I have found a suitable property, what should I do next?

When you have found a suitable property:

  1. Check you have a tenancy agreement and read it carefully.
  2. Ask for and check the inventory – as an extra precaution and take photos of the property. Keep a copy of the inventory safe.
  3. Take meter readings.
  4. Contact details – make sure you have the correct details for your landlord in case of emergency.

 

What if my landlord wants to evict me? Do they have to give me notice?

Legally, landlords have to give you proper notice. You should check the tenancy agreement in the first instance to see how much notice the landlord must give.

With an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement, you have the right to stay for the duration of the fixed term unless you breach the tenancy agreement. A breach could be not paying rent or damaging the property.

Do as much homework as possible before you decide on a property. If the worst comes to the worst and you are being faced with eviction, seek professional advice and contact your local housing department.

If your fixed term comes to an end and your landlord does not want you to stay in the property, they have to give you at least two months’ notice in writing.

A landlord cannot evict you during the first six months of the tenancy or during the initial fixed term, unless they have grounds for doing so, such as a breach of the tenancy agreement.

If a fixed term has ended and another one has not been agreed at expiry, the tenancy will continue on a rolling contract basis.

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What can I do if my landlord wants to evict me?

If you are being threatened with eviction, seek professional advice ASAP. If you are being forced out illegally, you can contact your local housing department who can bring criminal proceedings against your landlord on your behalf.

This also applies if you are being harassed by your landlord who is trying to evict you.  Alternatively, you can bring a civil claim against your landlord for illegal eviction and/or harassment.

 

Know Your Rights

You can only be legally removed from the property with a court order. You can also contact your local authority for general housing help and advice.

Do as much homework as possible before you decide on a property. If the worst comes to the worst and you are being faced with eviction, seek professional advice and contact your local housing department.

 

If you would like legal advice regarding your rights as a tenant, contact our team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9052 or contact us online.

Carys Strong is a dispute resolution solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Cardiff.

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