The tenancy agreement is such a vital document. Yet many private landlords pay surprisingly little attention to it. They may use the same contract for years at a time. Or worse just find a free template they found on the internet. If you’re a new landlord or worried your tenancy documents may not be up to scratch, we’re going to look at the five most common mistakes landlords make in their tenancy agreement documentation. And crucially how to avoid them.
Why is the tenancy agreement so important?
Are you a landlord who lets with an assured shorthold tenancy? If so, there’s no legal requirement for you to use a tenancy agreement. But it protects both you and your tenants.
A well-drafted tenancy agreement protects you and your property. It can prevent disputes between you and your tenant. It sets out the obligations of both parties and it’s vital evidence should you need to resolve a dispute in a court or arbitration hearing. In short – you need a tenancy contract signed by yourself and your tenant. Without one, you risk losing out financially. Getting everything in writing is the best defence any landlord has against tenants not paying rent or causing damage.
The 5 common mistakes landlords make in their tenancy agreement documentation/
1. Repairs and damages
The most common cause of dispute between tenant and landlord is maintenance and repairs. Or more specifically who’s responsible for them. In most cases, it’s your responsibility. But make sure the tenancy agreement is clear on the responsibilities and obligations of the tenant. In other words that they must keep the property clean and report any maintenance issues immediately. Make it easy for tenants to report repairs. Make sure the tenancy agreement includes your contact details.
2. Forgetting about pets
This is one that can really cause problems. How many landlords have discovered a tenant’s dog has destroyed the lawn or chewed the skirting boards off? Whether you allow pets or not, be crystal clear on your position in the tenancy agreement.
3. Illegal or unrealistic clauses
As a landlord, you can’t just include anything you fancy in the tenancy contract. Well, you can but it won’t be enforceable. Anything written into the agreement must be fair and reasonable. For example, you can’t include a clause which says the tenant is responsible for paying boiler repair costs. Or that they must have the property professionally cleaned every three months. You can’t legally enforce anything considered unreasonable. So why include it in the tenancy agreement in the first place?
4. Make sure the small details are correct
Landlords using a tenancy agreement template often forget to include the correct details. Good luck with proving your case if you’ve forgotten to replace ‘tenant’s name here’ throughout the document. Always check the tenant’s name is correct. And don’t forget to check the address is right either. Overlooking the small details can cause big problems. Finally, sign and date the contract. Both yourself and your tenant must sign.
5. Not updating the tenancy agreement
Nothing lasts forever. And the private rental sector is always evolving. Laws frequently change. Many of which affect the tenancy agreement. Using an outdated tenancy contract can cause issues for you should there be any dispute with your tenant. Always update your agreement.
Remember all tenancies are different. There’s no one size fits all tenancy agreement. This is why you should always get professional help with your contracts.
MakeUrMove provides a service in which we will draw up a legally compliant and binding tenancy agreement for you. This saves you the pain of writing the contract yourself and provides the peace of mind you don’t get when downloading a free template from the internet. The MakeUrMove service also includes gathering electronic signatures and for added convenience, we’ll even arrange to lodge your tenant's deposit with a deposit protection scheme. Learn more about our tenancy agreement service.
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