Do you have a Tenancy Agreement Template?

July 13, 2019

DocumentThis is what people often ask.

What they generally mean is a short document, normally in word format, which they can chop and change as they like.

The answer is, yes, we do have tenancy agreement templates.  Quite a few actually.  But they are not in word format and they are not short (sorry).  And you can’t change them (much).

Here’s why.

Why you need a tenancy agreement

You probably know that a tenancy agreement is important, vital actually, but do you know why?  Here are the main reasons:
 
  • To record the agreement made, and
  • To include clauses to protect your position

Let’s take a look at these:

Recording the agreement made

This is fairly obvious.  It the rent is £800 per month you want to have a record of this to stop your tenant claiming that actually, the agreement was for £700 per month.

The tenancy agreement is also proof that a tenancy was agreed at all (if this is needed).

Including clauses to protect your position

This is where the problems often lie.  Because not being lawyers, landlords often don’t appreciate what they need to have to protect their position or why certain clauses are worded the way that they are.

Here are some examples:

  • If you don’t have a clause saying that rent is payable in advance, it will, under common law rules, be payable in arrears
  • If you don’t have a properly drafted deposit clause, you may not succeed in claims for damage at adjudication (even if it is clear the tenants did the damage)
  • If your tenancy agreement doesn’t provide for the fees authorised by the Tenant Fees Act 2019 to be payable by tenants – you won’t be able to charge them

Tenancy Agreements do not change the law

It is important to understand this.  If your tenancy agreement, for example, says:

  • That the landlord can enter at will without giving written notice first
  • That tenants are responsible for keeping the property in repair, or
  • That tenants are liable to pay a penalty of £X every time the rent is more than 5 days late

those clauses will be invalid.  The fact that the tenants have signed to agree to them will not matter.

There are also the unfair terms rules (now part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015) which provide that if a clause in a contract (which includes tenancy agreements) takes away a right which a consumer would otherwise have had – that clause is invalid.

But how can you know whether a clause is taking away a right – if you do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of what those rights are in the first place?

Many landlords invalidate clauses by changing the wording or add clauses which are unenforceable.

The classic situation is pets clauses.  Landlords routinely remove wording providing for the tenant to be entitled ask permission to keep a pet which the landlord shall not refuse unreasonably.  However, removing that wording invalidates the clause meaning the tenant can keep any type of pet he wishes!

As a good landlord, you will want your tenancy agreements to reflect the law and be enforceable.  However, if you draft or amend them yourself,  unless you really know what you are doing, this may not be the case.

Short tenancy agreements

A quick word here about short agreements.  Landlords often get impatient about the reams of paperwork needed when renting a property to tenants.  Understandably.

However, if a tenancy agreement is to do its job and protect your position in all reasonably foreseeable situations, it needs to be quite long.

Then our tenancy agreements are in plain English format. This is so they are clear and easy to understand by both landlord and tenant.  Bearing in mind that many tenants may be inexperienced (eg students) or English may not be their first language.  They may find traditionally worded tenancy agreements impossible to understand (which could in itself be grounds to claim clauses are invalid under the unfair terms rules).

However, it takes more words to write a plain English document, as most ‘jargon’ is actually a verbal shortcut.

For example ‘as aforesaid’ takes up less space on the page than ‘as set out in previous clauses in this agreement’.

Short tenancy agreements are bad news for landlords and should be avoided.  As they are unlikely to provide full protection for you.

The Landlord Law Tenancy Agreements

Our agreements are fairly long but they do cover everything that you need and they are fairly easy to understand.

They are created via our ‘document generator’ system.  To use this you complete a detailed form and the generator will create a pdf document based on that information.

Although you cannot change the ‘boilerplate text’ they are fairly flexible.

  • You can adapt them in specific ways, for example, to provide for guarantors, specify if rent is to be paid weekly or monthly, or whether any bills are to be included in the rent
  • You can change the section which describes how rent is to be paid to ser out the payment arrangments you want
  • You can add various notices – for example, if you are renting out your own home, and
  • If you want to add or amend clauses this can be done via an ‘additional clauses’ section at the end.

Amending a clause can, for example, be done by including wording in the additional clauses box such as

“Clause X is amended as follows [wording of amended clause]”

If you are a member and want to amend any clauses you can ask a question on the members’ forum and we will often draft an amended clause up for you.  There are also some suggested clauses available for members to use.

The Landlord Law Tenancy Templates include:

  • A ‘bog standard’ assured shorthold tenancy
  • A special tenancy for use for student lets
  • A ‘bog standard’ assured shorthold tenancy for a room in a shared house (ie HMO)
  • A student AST for a room in a shared house
  • Versions of the above are available for England and Wales
  • A company let agreement
  • A resident landlord agreement

Variations for these include:

  • Monthly or weekly rent
  • Provision for a guarantor
  • Provision for an agent
  • Allowing / not allowing smoking
  • A ground 1 notice for owner-occupiers
  • Versions where the landlord pays specified bills
  • Versions with or without a deposit

All tenancy agreements provide clauses to protect landlords:

  • Under the Data Protection rules
  • Under the right to rent rules
  • Under the Tenant Fes Act
  • Under the tenancy deposit legislation
  • Under the rules relating to eviction procedures

To name but a few of the issues provided for.

All Landlord Law members can create as many tenancy agreements as they wish during their membership period.  All tenancy agreements are stored in our ‘cloud’ and you can go back and amend them later – when they will automatically be updated to the most recent version.

You can also create additional versions of the same agreement – for example, if you have several tenants renting a room in the same property.

Many of our longstanding members stay with us because of our tenancy agreements.  If you are not a member – maybe you should consider joining up?

Short tenancy agreements are bad news for landlords and should be avoided.  As they are unlikely to provide full protection for you. #landlordlaw

"I am so grateful to have found you and your website. It made me realise that the AST's and other documentation I'd had drawn up for my company were inadequate despite paying a considerable sum to get them done."
Sandra Savaage-Fisher
Letting Agent
Not a Landlord Law member?  Find out more here.
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