North East landlords and tenants are being urged to make sure they have a tenancy agreement in place before moving into a property, after a survey found 10 percent do not have one.
Ajay Jagota, managing director of North East based KIS Lettings, was commenting on a survey which reported that one in 10 are renting without a proper tenancy agreement and further cited that a third of landlords did not know their legal obligations.
While not a legal requirement, a tenancy agreement is an important contract between tenant and landlord, which clearly states the responsibilities of both parties.
The agreement is useful when certain situations arise, such as terminating a contract. If a written tenancy agreement is not in place, the law assumes a shorthold tenancy exists. This is a six month agreement and states, for example, that each party must give two months’ notice should they wish to terminate the tenancy.
Ajay explains the importance of having such a contract.
“We have had landlords who have come to us in the past who didn’t have an agreement in place.
“It’s really important from both the landlord’s and the tenant’s point of view that a tenancy agreement is in place. For tenants, an agreement can cover factors like freedom to live in a property undisturbed, and for landlords, it covers rights such as being able to take back property if it gets damaged.
“At KIS, all tenancies have an agreement in place to ensure tenants and landlords know their rights and responsibilities. We pride ourselves on being a resource to people in their tenancy and helping them out with any issues that might occur.”
In a worst case scenario should there be no tenancy agreement in place and a landlord wants the tenant to vacate, the issue may go to the courts. The law is likely to deem a six month shorthold tenancy stands but a tenant may dispute the date they moved in. If no dated contract exists the tenant could claim longer in the property by stating they moved in less than six months prior.
Ajay said: “We need to make sure all tenants have a tenancy agreement and that landlords are up to date with the latest legislation so that they too know their legal obligations and requirements.
“While there currently isn’t any legislation for letting agents, the Housing Act provides plenty of directives for letting a property and anyone considering renting out a property for the first time should make themselves familiar with what is required of them and understand the dos and dont’s.”
It is recommended that no tenant should take on a tenancy without signing an agreement, and the landlord should always cover themselves with a formal contract – downloadable tenancy documents are available from the National Landlords Association. However, anyone in doubt can seek support from a responsible letting agency like KIS.