First: Sign a Tenancy Agreement. All new tenancies must have a written Tenancy Agreement. The landlord must provide a Tenancy Agreement that sets out the particular conditions that have been agreed to. Both landlord and tenant sign it and the landlord must give the tenant a copy before the tenancy begins. Care should be taken by both landlord and tenant in the discussions leading up to an agreement.
If a landlord tells a tenant they can have a property, or a tenant says they will take it, or money is paid, this may bind them, even if an agreement has not yet been signed.
What should be in the Tenancy Agreement?
If something has been written down in a Tenancy Agreement that is inconsistent with what the law says, it has no effect. A landlord cannot enforce what is outside the law and tenants cannot give away any of their rights. For example, even if the Tenancy Agreement says the tenant must leave on a month’s notice, the tenant is still entitled to 90 days’s notice.
A basic Tenancy Agreement must include the following:
- The names and contact addresses of the landlord and tenant
- The address of the property
- The date the Tenancy Agreement is signed
- The date the tenancy is to begin
- Whether the tenant is under the age of 18
- The amount of any bond
- The rent amount and frequency of payments
- The place or bank account number where the rent is to be paid
- Any fees (real estate or solicitor’s) which are to be paid (if applicable)
- A statement (if applicable) that the tenant is to pay for metered electricity
- A list of any furnishings (like furniture, curtains and other fittings) provided by the landlord
- The date the tenancy will end if it is a fixed term
Tenancy Services strongly advises that both parties complete and sign a Property Inspection Report to be kept with each copy of the Tenancy Agreement.
Other things may be included which are specific to the particular tenancy. Examples of these are:
- How many people may reside in the house.
- Whether the tenants may sublet or not.
- Where cars may be parked.
Having a written Tenancy Agreement can be very useful evidence if problems or disputes arise later on.