Before you Sign the Tenancy Agreement
Do you really know what you are signing up for? Are you unsure about some of the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. There are many things you need to be clear about before you sign the tenancy agreement. Read on for a few noteworthy TenantsTips.
Read the tenancy agreement carefully BEFORE you sign it and ask questions about any clauses you do not understand. If necessary get advice from someone who knows, maybe your solicitor or local Citizens Advice Office.
Know exactly what bills you will have to pay and what bills will be paid by the landlord. Normally the tenant pays, utility bills, local council tax, water rates. And phone bills etc. However, sometimes the rent includes council tax and/or gas and electric so make sure you check the agreement where it should be made clear. If in doubt ASK !
If the property was to have repair work done before you move in be wary of signing the agreement until you have checked the work. The agent or landlord may say its going to be done, but do you really know? Try and get the landlord or agent to agree in writing that you can move out without penalty if the work has not been done or will be done in a specified period.
If you pay your rent weekly, your landlord must provide you with a rent book to record rental payments
Do you really need a 12 month tenancy? Be careful about signing agreements for long terms. If you want to leave early, you will be legally liable for the rent and the property for the rest of the term, even after you after you leave, unless a suitable new tenant can be found. You cant just give a months notice and leave.
Are you signing a joint tenancy agreement with other people? We would recommend you only do this if you know them and you can really trust them. (See Joint and several article)
Your tenancy agreement is still valid after the end of the fixed term. So don’t let your agent or landlord try and scam you for a new tenancy agreement if you don’t want one. Your tenancy will continue to run from month to month and will be subject to all the terms and conditions of your existing agreement. It will continue until you sign a new tenancy. The tenancy is then known as a 'periodic tenancy' and you retain all your rights other than having a guaranteed period anymore.
Do you think some of the terms and/or clauses are unfair? Tenancy agreements are covered by the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts regulations. Any unfair clauses which do not comply will be void and unenforceable. You can complain to your local Trading Standards Office and refuse to sign the tenancy if you wish.
Do you have to give a deposit? Any deposit for an AST will need to be protected under one of the government authorised tenancy deposit schemes. Your tenancy agreement provides for this and your landlord must give you notice of the scheme used within 14 days of receiving the deposit.
If you are unsure about anything we recommend not signing and seeking legal advice as once you have signed you are generally committed to the agreement for the minimum term and it will probably be too late to change your mind later.