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Is it really worth having a written tenancy agreement?

View profile for Josh Millichamp
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The short answer is YES!

In the absence of a written agreement a tenancy agreement does still exist even if there is only an verbal agreement between the Landlord and the Tenant. For example, the Landlord and Tenant may have agreed at the start of the tenancy how much the rent would be and the date on which it is payable.

However, verbal agreements can be, and often are, difficult to enforce as there is often no proof of what has been agreed, or a particular problem may have arisen which the agreement did not cover. 

Whether written or verbal, a tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between a Landlord and a Tenant. It essentially gives the Tenant the right to live in the rental property, and the Landlord the right to receive rent.

Having a written tenancy agreement gives both Landlords and Tenants certainty as to the terms of the tenancy and their respective rights and responsibilities during the tenancy.  

Whilst tenancy agreements do not necessarily have to be comprehensive, it is an opportunity for Landlords to clearly set out both Landlord’s and Tenant’s obligations during the tenancy. 

Having a written tenancy agreement also enables Landlords to set clear boundaries and can deal with things such as whether the Tenant can get keep pets or sublet the property.  

It is good practice for a written tenancy agreement to incldude the following:-

  • The Tenant and Landlord’s names, contact details and the address of the property which is being let;
  • Service address of the Landlord; 
  • the date the tenancy commenced;
  • the amount of rent payable, how often it should be paid and on what date;
  • the term of the tenancy;
  • the amount of the deposit to be paid and the scheme where it is to be protected;
  • the length of notice which both the Landlord and Tenant need to give if either party wishes to terminate the tenancy. (Although it should be noted that there are statutory rules about how much notice must be given and these will depend on the type of tenancy and why it is due to end.)
  • The agreement could also confirm what the Tenant is liable to pay other than rent such as council tax, gas, electricity, broadband and water.

Various clauses can be drafted within a tenancy agreement to maximise the protection of a Landlord, and these include the Landlord’s right to claim interest on rent arrears and a clause requiring a guarantor in the event of the Tenant defaulting. 

Having a written tenancy agreement will also enable the Landlord to rely on certain grounds for possession where the Tenant has breached certain clauses within the agreement such as damage to property or failure to maintain the property. Further, a written tenancy agreement could also make a Landlord’s life much easier when evicting Tenants as the lack of a written tenancy agreement will preclude a Landlord from using the accelerated procedure once the Section 21 Notice has expired. The accelerated procedure is a quicker and sometimes cheaper route to gaining possession. 

By making clear what both Landlords and Tenants expect of each other from the off both parties can feel more at ease and the chances of a dispute or disagreement arising either during or after the tenancy are also minimised.

What’s more, at the same time as providing the tenancy agreement to Tenants, Landlords can also comply with their obligations in providing Tenants with:

  • a copy of the current version of “How To Rent” guide,
  • details of the scheme where the deposit is being held (the prescribed information) and 
  • the current gas safety certificate and a copy of the current Energy Performance Certificate for the property. 

It is best practice for Landlords to get Tenants to sign to say that they have received these at the commencement of the tenancy or include this within the agreement itself. 

If you are looking to let your property and want a tenancy agreement drafting, then get in touch with us without delay. Call us now on 0800 118 1500 or contact Josh Millichamp for further information.