Renting out your property may seem like an easy source of income, but it can be a legal minefield. Also you may have to pay tax on the income you earn.
If there are disagreements between you and your tenants, it can quickly become a drain on your time and resources. The best way to avoid this is to take the right legal advice at the start.
We can deal with all areas of Landlord and Tenant Law and are skilled in settling disagreements. But prevention is better than a cure. Before you can even look for a tenant, we can help you decide what the terms of the tenancy will be and can build these terms into a written “tenancy agreement” tailored to your needs.
A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your tenant. This contract can be written or verbal. In England and Wales there is no law to say that landlords have to provide a written tenancy agreement, but it is a good idea to do so. Otherwise, if you have a dispute with your tenant about the terms of the agreement, it is your word against theirs as to what was agreed.
The main advantage of having a written tenancy agreement is that is sets out your rights and responsibilities as a landlord in a way that is legally enforceable. This keeps disagreements to a minimum because both sides know where they stand.
The main advantage of having a written tenancy agreement is that it sets out your rights and responsibilities as a landlord in a way that is legally enforceable. This keeps disagreements to a minimum because both sides know where they stand.
There are several types of tenancy agreement. Of these, the two most common types are the “assured short hold” tenancy and the “assured” tenancy.
Assured short hold tenancy
This is normally for a least six months and the tenant has fewer rights to stay at the end of the tenancy period agreed.
This is used mostly by housing associations and registered social landlords but occasionally by private landlords too. It sets out in what circumstances you can end the tenancy and gives the tenant far greater rights to stay on at the end of the tenancy period agreed.
Ideally, you should contact us as soon as you start thinking about renting your property out. This will give you a clear idea of the terms to offer to any tenant you are considering.
- explain the different types of tenancy agreement and identify the most suitable for you;
- draw up or check a tenancy agreement for you;
- highlight the essential requirements and terms of your tenancy agreement;
- explain any related legal issues;
- warn you of any pitfalls, including advice on how to end an agreement; and
- give you advice on the type of tenant reference to ask for.
Drawing up your agreement
We will explain your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. You then have the opportunity to explain your specific needs and concerns. This will help us to draw up a tenancy agreement that is tailor- made to your needs. During this process, we will cover the following issues with you:-
- Length and type of tenancy
What type of tenancy do you want? How many tenants will live in the property? What notice will you or your tenant need to give to end the tenancy? How long will the tenancy last?
What restrictions do you want to place on your tenants about keeping pets or playing loud music?
How much can you charge? When must the tenant pay the rent? What penalties are there for paying late? When can you increase the rent? Are Council Tax and fuel included in the rent?
What deposit must the tenant pay? Is the property furnished? If so, will the agreement include a list of furnishing and fittings? When should you return the deposit and in what circumstances can you keep it? All deposits taken by landlords must be held in one of three government – approved tenancy deposit schemes. These schemes make it easier to resolve disputes over deposits.
You must tell the tenant in writing which scheme the deposit is being held in within 14 days of receiving their deposit. If you do not do this, you can be taken to court and fined. We can tell you more about tenancy deposit schemes.
- Service charges and repairs
Will you provide any services such as laundry, maintenance or meals? Will you be making separate service charges for these? What are your duties to make repairs?
What are your rights to enter the property? Is it a good idea to give all these issues some thought before you visit us, and to bring along any documents which may be relevant.
Using the agreement
Once you have a tenancy agreement, make sure that both you and your tenant sign it at the start of the tenancy. You must give your tenant a copy of the agreement if they ask for it.
Energy performance certificates
Landlords must provide tenants with an energy performance certificate (EPC) for the rental property. You cannot charge your tenant/s for the EPC. The EPC lasts for ten years. It contains a rating for the energy performance of the property and recommendations for improving it.
We can also give you advice on some of the broader issues involved in being a landlord, such as tax liability and what to do if the property you want to rent out is mortgaged.
If you do have a disagreement with your tenants, there are several ways we can help. Whether it’s a simple case of checking your legal rights, or something more complicated such as adapting your tenancy agreement, negotiating a solution or even going to court, we have the knowledge and experience to support you.