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How to Make Sure Your Tenancy Contract is Good for You

  • 4 years ago

If you’ve just found a great rental, it’s easy to get carried away, start buying new rugs and sign on the dotted line without having a good look at your tenancy contract first.

There are five main things you should examine and think about before signing your contract.

The terminology used in the contract

Do you know the difference between an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) and an assured tenancy? Is it fixed-term or periodic? Is the tenancy agreement, or any part of it, verbal? Is there any phrase or term in the contract that you don’t understand or that you’re confused about?

If there is, then you can always talk to your letting agent, or Shelter, the housing charity, for more advice and explanations.

Read through your contract once again

We’re all familiar with the phrase “read the small print”, but if you’re aware that sometimes you tend to skim over it rather than, you know, read it, you should curb that tendency for once.

A tenancy agreement is an important contract, so it’s important to understand everything in it; after all, it’s about the roof over your head. As with the terminology used, you should query any clause that you don’t recognise.

Look at what’s included

You need to check that certain details and pieces of information are included in the contract. Look for:

  • Your name and the names of your fellow tenants, the landlord’s name and address, as well as the address of any letting agent involved;
  • How much the rent is, how and when it needs to be paid and the dates or frequency of rent reviews;
  • How much deposit you’ve paid and how it’s protected – landlords must put your deposit in a government-backed deposit scheme;
  • The circumstances in which your deposit will be withheld, such as property damage;
  • The bills you’ll be responsible for, if there are any bills that aren’t included in the rent;
  • The start and end date of the tenancy, as well as the requirements for ending the tenancy, and
  • Your obligations and those of the landlord.

You should also look for anything within the tenancy agreement which could ‘indirectly discriminate’ against you, such as the landlord refusing to change a no-pet policy when you need a guide dog.

Once you’ve signed the contract, you need to get a copy of the contract for your own records.

Look for any extra details and clauses

The contract might also include information on lodgers, guests, repairs, fittings, smoking and pets, as well as landing over the tenancy to someone else.

Do you need to change anything?

For anything to be changed, both you and your landlord need to agree to the amendments. These changes need to be in writing, too, whether as part of an entirely new document or as changes to the original agreement.

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