Tenancy Agreements for residential rental properties

The law does not obligate for a written tenancy agreement to be in place but it is best practice as it precisely sets out the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant. The Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is the standard agreement used in England and has the flexibility to last for as long as both the landlord and tenant agree; the minimum term is 6 months and the maximum term is 7 years. An AST specifies the tenancy commencement date, the landlord’s name and address (even if the tenancy is managed by an agent) and about the rent such as which date per month to pay it and what rent is payable.

Deposit schemes for residential rental properties

As the landlord, you (or your letting agent) must register your tenant’s deposit with one of the Government authorised tenancy deposit protection schemes and provide the Deposit Certificate and Prescribed Information to the tenant within 30 days. A court order to return the full deposit plus a fine of 1 to 3 times the value of deposit is the return if you fail to do so. An unprotected deposit means that it is more difficult to regain possession of the property from the tenant.

It is important to remember that if you are taking a deposit from the tenant, the deposit money itself belongs to the tenant.

‘Right to Rent’ checks

As previously mentioned in our blog since 1 February 2016, all adult occupiers within new tenancies need to pass a Right to Rent check. Landlords/letting agents are permitted to complete ID checks to restrict illegal immigrants from accessing private rented housing. This is a useful guide from the Home Office about ‘Right to Rent’ checks –  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-document-checks-a-user-guide