A tenancy agreement is a contract between landlord and tenant. It is most likely to be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST) regulated by the Housing Act 1988 as amended, and provides limited security of tenure to the tenant.

Although the content varies, your tenancy agreement should cover the following details:

  • The parties involved
  • The date that the tenancy began and its duration
  • The deposit payable by the tenant and how it’s protected
  • The monthly rent, when it’s due and how it’s to be paid
  • The length of notice required by tenant and landlord to end the tenancy
  • The tenant’s obligations while renting the property
  • A provision confirming that the tenant is not liable for fair wear and tear to the property
  • Signature of tenant and landlord (or letting agent)

It can subsequently be changed if both parties agree. Unless you have considerable experience already, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a letting agent or legal adviser on the terms of the proposed tenancy agreement.

Initial deposits

An initial deposit should cover you against any damage caused by the tenant or missing items.

Deposit protection schemes

Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes guarantee that tenants will get their deposit back at the end of the tenancy. Please note that this does not relieve the tenant from their responsibility to meet the terms of the tenancy agreement, including not to damage the property.

Landlords are required by law to legally to protect deposits on any new tenancy (since 6 April 2007). Failure to do so is very serious and could result in a court requiring you to repay the deposit plus a sum equivalent to three times that amount and you may be unable to seek possession of the property. Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes do not cover holding deposits.

Types of scheme

There are two types of Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes.

The Deposit Protection Service provides a free custodial scheme where it holds the deposit in a bank account and returns it at the end of the tenancy to the person who is entitled to it.

A number of insurers provide insurance backed schemes where you (or your agent) holds the deposit, but pays a fee to insure it against default for the benefit of the tenant. See My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme as examples of such insurance schemes.

We recommend seeking professional advice from your solicitor or letting agent on the options.

Short Assured Tenancy

You must give your tenants two months notice to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), after which time you have an automatic right to vacant possession of your property.

If the tenant has not left the property after the notice period expires you must seek an eviction notice through the courts. Please note that you can’t forcibly remove a tenant without such an eviction order.

If your tenant has not paid the rent or they’ve breached other terms of the tenancy agreement and you are seeking possession as a result, you will need to use one of the grounds for possession specified in the Housing Act 1988. We strongly suggest you seek legal advice in this situation.

Other Tenancy Agreements

Termination and notice periods should be set out in the tenancy agreement. If you have any questions on the terms of this we suggest you seek legal advice.

Landlord repair and maintenance obligations

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 covers the three main areas of your responsibility as a landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy.

You must keep the structure and exterior of the property in a good state of repair. You have final responsibility for ensuring your property is safe and fit for use, and you must ensure that all necessary repairs are carried out properly.

Gas and electrical safety
As a landlord, you’re responsible for the safety of gas installations and appliances. You must arrange an annual safety check and keep proper records. There are also regulations covering the safety of electrical installations and appliances. Though not currently compulsory in all properties, it makes extremely good sense to fit carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in all let properties.

As a landlord, you must also keep up to date with changes in relevant legislation – it’s your responsibility to find out when your obligations change.

Fire safety of furnishings
You must ensure that any soft furnishings and fittings you provide comply with the relevant standards for fire safety, and it’s a good idea to seek independent advice on your legal responsibilities in this area.

Whilst Your Mortgage Broker is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) advising on and arranging Buy to Let mortgages is not.