5 reasons to use an expert to draw up your new tenancy agreement
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As a private landlord, there are steps you need to take to protect your home and the residents that want to live there. As a tenant you should also know what you will be signed up to in the tenancy agreement.
Tom Sandover, a paralegal and landlord and tenant specialist at Bowen Dawes Solicitors explains how they'll help your tenancy run smoothly, from start to finish.
1. Landlords should supply tenants with the information they need
By law there are certain documents a landlord needs to provide for new tenants before the keys are handed over.
Working with a solicitor that specialises in landlord and tenant law will help you make sure you send all the right information that must be provided to the tenant.
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"Using this six-step checklist for finding and signing prospective renters will make the process easy and stress-free," Tom said.
Step 1: Set up the tenancy agreement, making sure you've used an appropriate agreement for your property, incorporating all the terms agreed with the tenant and ensuring that all sections are completed and signed.
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Step 2: Gather references for the prospective tenants, carry out credit checks. Investigate their 'right to rent' or proof of residency in the UK, as required by law.
Step 3: Join a government approved tenancy deposit scheme and protect the tenant's money, as required by law.
Step 4: Write up a 'contents of the property' list and have the tenants confirm the inventory.
Step 5: Prove the premises are fit for living by sending the tenants the property's gas and electric safety certificates and book regular tests for the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Step 6: Send the tenant the government booklet 'how to rent and check you've sent your tenant an energy performance certificate with a minimum rating of 'E.' From April 2020 it will be a legal requirement for existing tenancies this as well. It ensures tenants can live in the property comfortably and keep their energy bills at a reasonable price.
2. Put a safety net in place to catch any errors
Errors by landlords are understandable and mistakes easy to miss. Having someone to double-check documents and organise your next steps can help you avoid running into problems.
"We'll help you draw up a tenancy agreement, that's appropriate for your property and avoids the need to find costly or time-consuming resolutions later on for minor slips," Tom said.
3. Get the advice you need to set up your Shorthold Tenancy
"Almost all the landlords we act for are looking at Shorthold Assured Tenancies," Tom said. "These generally last a minimum of six months and come with many legal requirements you should be aware of, many of which we referred to above," said Tom.
Bowen Dawes can explain these legal requirements you need to understand for the kind of tenancy you're setting up as a landlord.
4. Build a good relationship with your tenants
A contract is not just a promise from the tenants to pay the rent. A landlord is obligated to maintain repair the property where needed for as long as the tenants live in it.
Bowen Dawes will set out these terms (and others you may require) in the tenancy agreement, making it clear from the beginning what's expected of each party.
This way you as the landlord can keep up your responsibilities, build trust, establish a good relationship with your tenants and keep lines of communication open.
5. Avoid mistakes if the tenancy ends
This will be of benefit throughout the tenancy, especially if problems arise.
Sometimes, for circumstances outside their control - a break-up, or the loss of a job - tenants can find themselves struggling to keep up with rent and can end up owing arrears.
Offering sympathy and extending deadlines in these situations can be a sign of good faith, one you can offer temporarily, but one that can eventually become unfeasible eventually. At some stage the landlord may need to begin the process of repossession.
At this point, a landlord must serve the tenant a specific form of notice to inform them of their intentions.
"This is when it's particularly important to get professional help," Tom said. "We can identify at an early stage of the process any legal problems that may prevent your ability to bring the tenancy to an end properly and take care of it for you."
"We can also handle any court proceedings that may be necessary as a result. But the best advice I can offer to avoid any complications is to make sure you get it right at the beginning of your tenancy and avoid these issues all together."