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How to Write a Tenancy Agreement: Guide for Landlords

Tenancy agreements are the legal documents that set the conditions of a tenancy in the private rented sector.

But what should be in them? How do landlords go about writing one? Find out everything landlords need to know about tenancy agreements with our comprehensive guide.

Benefits of a tenancy agreement

All types of tenancies require tenancy agreements. They are essential lettings documents – the only way to establish the terms of a tenancy, ensure that rent is being paid on time, the length of time of the tenancy and that the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant are being met.

Tenancy agreements protect the rights of both parties, avoid misunderstandings and help to reduce disputes. If you do not have a tenancy agreement, or only have a verbal agreement, it is difficult to enforce any rules that the landlord might have, or argue that either party is in the right or wrong in the event of a disagreement.

Key elements to include in a basic tenancy agreement

Do all tenants need to be on the tenancy agreement?

Yes. When writing the tenancy agreement, it is important to include the details of all the interested parties in the tenancy. Make sure the name and address of the landlord, and all tenants who will have responsibility for paying rent, are included. It is not necessary to include the names of all the people who will be living at the property, such as children and anyone under the age of 18.

Property details, restrictions and tenancy period

The landlord must include the address of the property on the agreement. They should also include within the terms of the tenancy any restrictions that are to be imposed on the tenants, such as running any commercial operation or business from the property, or any conditions on keeping pets (although landlords will no longer be able to reasonably refuse pets after the Renters Reform Bill becomes law). The length of the tenancy, including the start and end date, must be included on all fixed term tenancies.  

Rent and deposit

Establishing the details of rent payments and responsibilities is one of the most important parts of a tenancy agreement. As a landlord, ensure that you have included the amount of rent tenants have to pay, how often, and the date the rent is due, as well as how often the rent can be reviewed. You may need to include any details about late fees, or acceptable forms of payment.

The tenancy agreement must state how much the deposit the tenant has been asked to pay (it can be no more than five weeks’ rent). The landlord also has to by law include details of the tenant deposit protection scheme they have used to secure the deposit, which is refundable to the tenant at the end of the tenancy if all obligations have been met.

Tenant responsibilities

The tenancy agreement should be able to be used as a reference point to make tenants aware of their responsibilities. Tenants will be expected to keep properties tidy, without giving them tasks that should be fulfilled by the landlord. This might include making sure the garden is kept in good order. Any general maintenance should be taken care of by the landlord.

Make sure that it is clear that utilities (gas, electric, water etc) are to be paid for by the tenant, and who is responsible for the payment of council tax. It is usually the tenant, but if the tenancy agreement is for a room in a shared house or HMO, the council tax is paid by the landlord.

Do alterations to the property require landlord consent? Are guests allowed to stay overnight in the property? How much notice does the landlord need to give if they want to enter the property? All these things need to be included in a tenancy agreement.

Landlord responsibilities

The tenancy agreement should outline the landlord’s responsibilities and obligations. These will usually consist of the following:

  • Responding to requests for repairs and maintenance, and carrying out all scheduled maintenance work
  • Providing gas safety certificates
  • Ensuring fire safety measures are in place
  • Health and safety inspections
  • Protecting the tenant’s deposit and returning it within the legal time frame (unless deductions apply)

Ending the tenancy

It is important to highlight the notice period that is required if either party, landlord or tenant, wants to end the tenancy. In fixed term tenancies, there has to be a break clause inserted into the tenancy agreement in order for the landlord or tenant to give notice. The break clause will include details of the notice period required of both parties. In periodic tenancies, which have no fixed term, one month’s notice is legally required from the tenant, and two months notice if the landlord wishes to gain possession of the property.

Any procedures for vacating the property and returning the deposit should also be included.

Dispute resolution

Drawing up a tenancy agreement is the best way to ensure disputes do not occur, so that both tenant and landlord knows their obligations and responsibilities. However, the reality is that sometimes disputes do take place. Make sure in your tenancy agreement that a process is included to resolve disputes, whether through mediation or other methods.

Landlords should note that as part of the Renters Reform Bill, an ombudsman scheme is due to be introduced, giving tenants the right to make complaints against landlords if they are deemed to be reasonable

Additional things to include in tenancy agreements

As well as break clauses and policies on pets, landlords should include the following when they write their tenancy agreement:

  • Anti-smoking policy

Landlords have the right to add clauses to tenancy agreements banning smoking cigarettes or other substances in the rented property. Evicting a tenant on these grounds is difficult, however, unless there are other breaches to be taken into account.

  • Subletting rules

If landlords want to ensure that tenants do not sublet the property they are renting – in other words, letting out part or all of the property to someone else – they should insert a clause to that effect into the tenancy agreement. Equally, if landlords are open to subletting, they should set out the specific conditions for subletting.

  • Clauses for specific situations

Landlords may need to include clauses in the tenancy agreement that cover certain circumstances that are not included in a standard agreement. There may be a clause about a named guarantor for the tenant, agreeing to pay any shortfalls in rent, for example.

Creating your tenancy agreement: things to consider

Tenancy agreements don’t have to be written from scratch. In fact this isn’t recommended, as they are legally binding documents, so if anything important is missed this could easily come back to bite you.

Templates for tenancy agreements are widely available, and the government has published a model tenancy agreement. These can be personalised and adapted for your own use. Some landlords will prefer to use a solicitor to draw up their agreement, but obviously this will involve a cost.

Having produced your tenancy agreement, make sure you proofread it carefully, checking for any mistakes. It is always a good idea to give it to someone else to read, as they may find errors that you miss. Finally, once you are happy with the tenancy agreement, make two copies, one for you, and one for the tenant, and make sure they are signed by both parties.

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If you are looking to let your property, pop into one of our branches. We can help with a range of property management services, advice and information about the lettings process.

You’ve done the leg work, scoured the internet for possible candidates and found your perfect rental property. Your application was successful, now you just need to fill out your tenancy agreement.

A good tenancy agreement should set out what’s expected of both parties and what should happen in certain situations. The agreement can also form the legal basis for how to start, maintain and end the tenancy, for both you and your landlord.

Understanding what should be in a tenancy agreement, and what you should do before you sign can seem a little daunting. We’ve compiled a list of our top tips and things you should look out for when signing a new tenancy agreement.

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Before signing the tenancy agreement, you should:

Make sure you have visited the property and are certain you want to move in.

Ensure your deposit is protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

Feel confident that you can afford the rent and any bills that this doesn’t cover.

Check you understand all instructions for electrical items, heating etc. Make sure you see an up to date, valid gas safety certificate.

Have a complete inventory which is agreed between you and your landlord, and that all items listed are in the property.

It’s also worth checking the state of these items and photographing anything already showing signs of damage or wear so you have evidence in case any issues arise.

Make sure you have all keys for doors and windows.

Basic Tenancy Agreement:

The following should all be included in any tenancy agreement.

  • Full names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s);
  • Full address of the property;
  • Deposit amount and how it is protected;
  • How much the rent is and how it should be paid;
  • Information on how and when the rent will be reviewed;
  • Address of the landlord(s) or agent who will be looking after the property;
  • Start and end date of the tenancy.

Additional items which may be in your tenancy agreement:

Depending on your circumstances, certain additional clauses may also be added into your tenancy agreement.

  • The bills the tenant is responsible for;
  • How and when the deposit may be fully or partly withheld;
  • If the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done;
  • Who is responsible for repairs;
  • Whether pets are permitted and the rules around this;
  • Whether smoking is permitted;
  • Whether the property can be let to anyone else (sublet) or if lodgers are allowed.

If you have any questions, confusion or concerns about your tenancy agreements, or what you should be looking for before you sign one, talk to us! If you’ve already signed your tenancy agreement and are getting ready to move into your new home, take time to read our guide on preparing to move in.

Next steps: Preparing to move in 

Take a look at our quick guide for preparing to move in