Renting for tenants
The Key To a Quiet Life
Disagreements between tenants and landlords can be long and sometimes bitter. Yet most can be avoided with the right legal advice at the start.
We can deal with all areas of Landlord and Tenant Law and our lawyers are skilled in settling disputes. But prevention is better than cure. The key to a happy tenancy is to understand your rights and duties as a tenant and to make sure your tenancy agreement reflects them. This is why it’s vital to take our advice before you agree to your landlord’s terms.
A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. 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 always a good idea to ask for one -even if your landlord is a friend or family member. Otherwise, if you have a dispute with your landlord about the terms of your tenancy, it is your word against theirs as to what has been agreed.
There are several types of tenancy agreement. Of these, two most common types are the ‘assured shorthold’ tenancy and ‘assured’ tenancy.
This is normally for six months. You have no right to stay at the end of the agreed tenancy period if your landlord has given you valid notice to leave.
This is often used by public-sector landlords. It gives you far greater rights to stay at the end of the tenancy period agreed.
Ideally, you should contact us before you agree the terms of a tenancy with your landlord. This will give you the chance to check whether the terms are fair and legal before you commit to them.
If the tenancy agreement you are considering is relatively straightforward, you will probably only need one meeting with us to check the agreement through. We will then send you a letter to summarise the advise we have given you.
If your landlord has given you a written agreement to sign, bring it with you. We will go through it point by point to:
check that it is legal;
explain the basic requirements of the agreement; and
warn you of any pitfalls.
You will need to consider the following key issues:
When does the tenancy start and finish? What notice does the landlord have to give you to end the tenancy? Under what circumstances can you be evicted? What do you have to do if you want to end the tenancy?
What restrictions has your landlord placed on you keeping pets, hanging out washing or playing loud music after hours? Are these restrictions reasonable? What happens if you ignore them?
When do you have to pay the rent? What might happen if you don’t pay on time? Will you have to pay interests? How often and when can the landlord increase you rent?
How much do you pay and when do you get it back? Is there a list of fixtures and fittings which your landlord has left in the property?
Will the landlord provide any services, such as laundry, maintenance or meals? Are there separate service charges for these? What are the landlord’s duties to carry out repairs?
What are the landlord’s rights to enter your home? Are other people allowed to use the property? If so, which rooms can they use?
Further action: If any of your landlord’s terms seem unreasonable or inconvenient, your solicitor can tell you how best to go about raising these concerns.
Sadly, most tenants don’t take advice until matters have reached crisis point and they find themselves evicted or their rights abused. Although it is rarely as easy to solve a problem at this stage, we have the knowledge and experience to see the matter through.
Charges can vary and usually depend on the complexity of the tenancy agreement. We will discuss and explain the basis for our charges. Wherever possible, we shall provide you with an estimate of our likely costs.