Is your tenancy agreement fit for purpose?

Is your tenancy agreement fit for purpose?

Or if something went wrong, would you be left counting the cost?

With so much political upheaval over the last couple of years and so many changes to legislation, it’s easy to lose track of what affects you. And the private landlord sector has perhaps been hit harder than most when it comes to those changes.

Which all means, it’s more important than ever before to protect your position as well as ensure you are legally compliant, by having in place a correctly prepared tenancy agreement.

Does the following sound familiar?

Tenancy agreement advice- EweMove DorkingWorryingly, a recent survey by Direct Line found that 58% of “go it alone” landlords were using adapted tenancy agreements, sourced either from online templates or from old agency contracts. These landlords had no idea how accurate or not these may have been.

The survey also found that 13% of landlords had experienced disputes in the past 2 years specifically arising from a tenant’s rental contract. And worse still, an astonishing 10% of landlords had no formal tenancy agreement in place at all!

Let’s get one thing straight

An up to date tenancy agreement is absolutely essential. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of both you and your tenant as well as the terms of occupation (or eviction). It has to be fair and legally compliant.

It may make the difference between being able to evict your tenant or not. Or whether you can offset a deposit against damage to your property.

Which is the correct type of tenancy agreement (and what the terms should be) will, of course, depend on what type of tenancy your tenant has and when it started. If you’re in any doubt about this, please contact us here at EweMove.

At the very least your tenancy agreement should include:

  • the names of all people involved
  • the rental price and how it’s paid
  • information on how and when the rent will be reviewed
  • the deposit amount and how (and if) it will be protected
  • when the deposit can be fully or partly withheld, e.g. to repair damage caused by tenants
  • the property address
  • the start and end date of the tenancy
  • any tenant or landlord obligations
  • which bills your tenants are responsible for

It may also include information on:

  • whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done
  • who’s responsible for minor repairs (other than those that the landlord is legally responsible for)
  • whether the property can be let to someone else (sublet) or have lodgers.

(source – https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-agreements-a-guide-for-landlords/what-you-should-include-in-a-tenancy-agreement)

Recent changes to the legislation that may need to be incorporated in your tenancy agreement 

  1. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Buy to letA Section 21 Notice is used when a Landlord requires the tenant to vacate a rented property by a specified date.

Since October 1st 2015, as a landlord you have been required to provide your tenant with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate, the Energy Performance Certificate and the latest update of the Government’s How to Rent Guide. If you don’t provide these, then you cannot issue a Section 21.

You will, therefore, need to be able to prove that you complied with these requirements and making them part of your tenancy agreement is a sensible way to do this.

  1. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Since October 1st 2015, private landlords in England have had to ensure that there is a smoke alarm on each floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in every room with a solid fuel burning appliance. The alarms must be tested and working at the start of each tenancy. Again, it is a good idea to include this in your tenancy agreement.

  1. Right to rent. 

right to rentEffective from February 1st 2016, landlords have to conduct the appropriate checks to ensure that their prospective tenants have the right to rent property in the UK. Failure to do so carries considerable penalties.

  1. Energy Performance.

From April 1st 2016, private rental sector landlords may receive energy improvement requests from their tenants if the property in question has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. In which case, you the landlord will be legally bound to improve the rating to E. Typical improvement measures being, increasing the insulation, upgrading the boiler or installing double glazing.

The contents of your tenancy agreement is a specialist area. The law surrounding tenancies is fast moving and complicated. It’s not possible to give comprehensive advice in a blog about this but it is possible to flag up changes and areas which you need to be aware of.

If you need advice with a tenancy agreement, don’t leave things to chance, get in touch today.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

As a landlord, are you legionellosis ready?

Because if you’re not, you better read on.

I know, there’s been yet another major political upheaval and nearly every other blog I’ve read in the last few days has been filled with commentary about it. Which is why I thought I’d write about something completely different today. And let’s face it, I can’t exactly bring you news about what this new government means for landlords yet!

So, although it may be a fascinating time, whatever your viewpoint, don’t let it take your attention away from some important landlord responsibilities.

So what is Legionellosis?

landlord responsibilities Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria including the most serious and the one you’ve probably heard of, legionnaires’ disease.

 

The two things that Legionella bacteria need to grow and reproduce are:

  • a water temperature of 20-45C (68-113F)
  • impurities in the water that the bacteria can use for food – such as rust, algae and limescale.

Although relatively rare, Legionnaires’ disease can form in contaminated showers, hot and cold water systems, sprinkler systems and spas.

You catch it by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols) containing the bacteria. It usually takes six to seven days between getting the infection and the start of symptoms, although it can be anytime from two to 19 days.

How serious is it?

You probably remember frightening headlines about seriously ill patients, when there’s been previous outbreaks in the UK. Although 90% of those infected do recover, it’s a very serious lung infection, particularly in people with pre-existing health conditions. And it can lead to other life-threatening conditions.

Why should landlords care?

building inspectorUnfortunately, landlords often overlook the importance and necessity of putting safeguards in place against Legionellosis.

As a landlord providing residential accommodation you are responsible for ensuring that the risk of exposure to legionella in your premises is properly assessed and controlled.

All water systems require an assessment of the risk. You can do that yourself if you are competent to do so, or employ somebody who is.  In most residential situations, a simple assessment may show that the risks are low and no further action may be necessary.

However, even if that is the case, it’s still important to review the assessment regularly (in case anything changes in the system) and manage the water systems appropriately.

Empty properties, holiday homes and second homes

It’s also important not to let water go stagnant, particularly in periods when the property is empty. This makes empty holiday homes vulnerable, especially in the summer. To manage this, there are a number of options you can consider such as a flushing regime or draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods of time. The important point is to be aware, because you will be responsible if you haven’t taken appropriate measures.

To manage this, there are a number of options you can consider such as a flushing regime or draining the system if the property is to remain vacant for long periods of time. The important point is to be aware – because you will be responsible if you haven’t taken appropriate measures.

Help, I need to do an assessment

If you need an assessment carried out because you haven’t done one recently, give me a call. There are a number of specialists who I can put you in touch with to assist. And add it to your list of important assessments that needs to be regularly carried out.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to trying to work out what the recent election result is going to mean for landlords and property owners. Although let’s face it, that could take some time!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com