Things to check before signing tenancy agreement

Before signing tenancy agreement new renter should check not only property but all terms of agreement. The tenants have not only obligation to pay the rent in time but also must be treated in terms of law.

Tips what to do before signing tenancy agreement:

1. Ask landlord or estate agent about type of tenancy agreement, length and start and end date. In the tenancy agreement tenant must be called as a tenant not a licensee or other word. Most common form of tenancy such as assured shorthold – AST for fixed term of 6 or 12 months. If you are solo tenant then just only your name must be in contract. In case of join tenancy, for example you rent a house with your friend or relative then their name must be put in the tenancy agreement.

2. Security Deposit is under obligation to be registered in one of the three government approved scheme within 30 days of receipt. Tenants should ask the amount of deposit and what scheme be used for protection. Despite the tenant pays this money to the landlord, deposit belongs to tenant and must be secured.

3. Сarry out inventory check and/or take a detailed photo of the property, furniture and fittings in order to avoid a dispute with landlord in future. You can download free inventory checklist template and get it conducted by the landlord. But don’t forget to check an agreement who should carry out and pay for inventory check-in and check-out. Very often landlords state in agreement that final check is paid by tenant(s) and couldn’t be deducted from the security deposit. Moreover, don’t forget to check whether the inventory fee is defined in tenancy contract .

4. Check the terms of use of property. For example, whether tenant could make a hole in the wall or repaint it. Some tenancy agreement may have obligation in regards of restrictive covenants. For example, not to erect any poles and television aerials or no clothes shall be dried outside from the windows and balcony.

5. It is worth asking a landlord about average utility montly bill. It let you assess you future costs. If property has electricity heating sometimes it may cause really high bill in cold weather.

6. Ask about council tax band for the property.

7. Check the start date of tenancy and end date or whether it is a rolling tenancy

8. Check if contract has the term about landlord's visit to the property and form of notice. In term of  the Landlord & Tenant Act , Section 11 landlord must give not less then 24 hours writing notice for the purpose of viewing the property condition:

In a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.

What document landlord must provide tenants?

Last years government made a lot of changes in regulations which help to protect a new tenants and give some balance in this market.

After signing tenancy agreement landlord must provide a tenants next documents and information:

  • within 30 days copy of Deposit protection Certificate and Prescribed Information. PI contains landlord’s and tenant’s data such as name, address, telephone and information about information about protection scheme. If landlord fails to provide the Prescribed Information he will have a risk to invalidate the Landlords right to claim guaranteed possession of their property.
  • Signed copy of tenancy agreement
  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • EPC certificate
  • Booklet “How to Rent
  • Signed inventory form
  • Bank details for rental payment. It is useful to set up standing order payment into bank account.