About changing a tenancy agreement
Generally a tenancy agreement cannot be changed unless both the landlord and the tenant agree to the changes.
If both parties agree, the change should be recorded in writing either by drawing up a new tenancy agreement or by amending the existing agreement.
The common reasons for changing a tenancy agreement can be:
- the landlord wishes to increase the rent,
- the landlord wishes to change the specific terms of the agreement,
- the tenant wishes to transfer their tenancy to a member of their household who has lived with them for more than one year,
- the tenant wishes to share the responsibilities of the tenancy by having a joint tenancy.
Although changes can be agreed verbally without written documentation it is harder to prove at a later date should you need to. In this case evidence of the change of agreement will usually rely on the fact that both parties accepted the change. For example, this could be accepting a variation to the rent received/paid.
Witnesses to the new agreement being accepted can also act as proof of the changes so find someone who will witness the signing of the new terms.
It is always safer to ensure that any changes in the rental agreement are recorded in the form of a written document.
Unless the landlord has a very strong reason, they must not change anything in a tenancy agreement that might discriminate against you on grounds of sex, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and even having just had a baby or being pregnant.
For example, if a tenant becomes disabled, the landlord is expected to amend the tenancy agreement to allow the tenant to make disability-related improvements to the property.
So if the tenant might need a guide dog in the house but a term in the tenancy says no pets are allowed then the landlord must change the terms to allow guide dogs in the property unless they have a very strong reason not to (another tenant in the property has a serious allergy to dogs).
Before signing a tenancy agreement it is important that the tenant understands the vocabulary and terms used.
If necessary the tenant should ask for an explanation of any unfamiliar terms before agreeing to the tenancy and signing the agreement as you may not be able to change them later.