Frequently Asked Questions
Landlords and Tenants should take care to review any existing policies when renting or letting a property for the first time as some standard insurance products will either not provide cover, or might place restrictions on cover, for rented property and/or its contents. A failure to inform your insurer that you are renting/letting a property could invalidate any subsequent claim.
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between a Landlord and Tenant that sets out both the legal and contractual responsibilities and obligations of the two parties. It should be written in plain and intelligible language (no unnecessary jargon!) and its terms and clauses should be fair and balanced, taking account of the respective positions of the parties and should not mislead about legal rights and responsibilities.
The most common form of tenancy agreement used is an “Assured Shorthold” (an AST) under the 1988 Housing Act (amended 1996). This type of tenancy offers the most flexibility to both Landlord and Tenant; has straightforward notice procedures for bringing the tenancy to an end and a special Accelerated Possession court procedure should Tenants fail to vacate. We have our own “in-house” agreements which are more comprehensive than ones available at local stationers of the Post Office etc. We use a tenancy agreement based on ARLA’s (the Association of Residential Letting Agents) tenancy agreement which has been checked by the Office of Fair Trading.
A deposit of an amount equivalent to between for to six weeks rent will be required from Tenants which will be held during their tenancy against satisfactory performance by the Tenant of all the various obligations under the tenancy agreement – but mainly, those relating to the cleanliness and condition of the property. The best way for a tenancy deposit to be held during the tenancy is by the agent as “stakeholder” between the parties (Landlord and Tenant). This means that at end of the tenancy we will get the agreement of both sides before making any deductions for damage, cleaning etc.
This is a clause sometimes inserted in a fixed tenancy, typically if the initial fixed term is for a year or more. A break clause will usually be worded in such a way as to allow either Landlord or Tenant to give two months written notice at any stage after a particular date or period of the tenancy, thus terminating the tenancy earlier than the end of the original fixed term.
There are only limited ways in which this can happen; the Landlord cannot make the Tenants move out, nor can the Tenants lawfully walk away from their obligations to fulfil the contract. Either party might request of the other that a formal “surrender” of the tenancy be allowed. It would then be up to the parties to agree the terms and conditions of such surrender.