Top 10 Tips for assured shorthold tenancies
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) produce a document that can be viewed online called ‘Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements’. It lays out what should be included in a tenancy agreement and what might be considered to be unfair.
If in doubt about signing a contract, either as a tenant or a landlord, to find out if the agreement is fair, you can visit your local:
- Trading standards office.
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
- Lettings specialist legal company.
- Tenants should not sign a tenancy agreement unless it is easy to read and they have read every clause. If the tenant is any doubt, they must get it checked out by a legal expert.
- Tenants should ensure they take time (two days or more is quite acceptable) to check the agreement thoroughly. Tenancy agreements should be fair and not misleading.
- Tenants should not sign an agreement that is clearly a ‘copy’, such as an agreement given to them by a landlord insurance customer that is renting to the tenant privately, but frequently mentions or refers to ‘letting agent’ within the tenancy agreement.
- Tenants must make sure that they have read and understood every clause in the tenancy agreement – if the tenant is in any doubt, they should ask an independent party BEFORE they sign.
- Check that the agreement includes information about the tenancy deposit protection scheme.
- As a tenant or landlord, query any clauses that are too ‘onerous’, such as ‘no pets allowed’. Nothing wrong with these clauses, just make sure that you can and do comply with these else have them removed.
- If you are a landlord insurance policyholder accepting a guarantor, make sure that the guarantor is present during the signing of the agreement to ensure they agree and understand the responsibility they are taking on.
- Get a legal lettings specialist to check any additions or alterations to an agreement (otherwise changes you make could invalidate the agreement).
- If you are a landlord insurance customer, make sure you have met all the tenants that will be renting your property and check they have all signed the agreement.
- Do ensure that the letting agreement is updated annually.