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What is a Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and tenant that sets out both the legal and contractual responsibilities and obligations of the two parties. It should be written in plain and intelligible language (no unnecessary jargon!) and its terms and clauses should be fair and balanced, taking account of the respective positions of the parties and should not mislead about legal rights and responsibilities. Landlord and tenant should take care to individually negotiate any particular terms or conditions that are important to them or especially relevant to the particular let or property. It is usual for landlords to sign the Tenancy Agreement themselves, however, Stephenson Residential Lettings Ltd reserves the right to sign Tenancy Agreements and other relevant documents on behalf of the Landlord unless otherwise stipulated. It is important therefore that we are given clear instructions regarding the length of time the property will be available for letting.

Tenancies will take one of two forms being either an Assured Tenancy or, more commonly, an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Recent legislation under the 1988 Housing Act (amended 1996) has determined that unless specifically shown in a written agreement any new tenancy created will be deemed an “Assured Shorthold Tenancy” (an AST). This type of tenancy offers the most flexibility to both landlord and tenant; has straightforward notice procedures for bringing the tenancy to an end and a special Accelerated Possession court procedure should tenants fail to vacate. Whilst the Agreement may stipulate that one month's Notice is required from the Tenant to terminate at 6 months, the Law entitles the tenant to ignore this and merely hand in the keys to the property at the end of the first 6 months.

Once the 6 months has elapsed, our Agreement is so worded as to permit the automatic continuation thereof on a month-to-month basis. The tenant may terminate the tenancy at the end of or any time beyond the first 6 months by 1 months previous Notice in writing. The timing of the service of a Notice has been the subject of litigation and needs to be supervised very carefully in order to conform as a valid Notice. - top

What Happens If The Tenant Doesn’t Move Out After The End Of A Tenancy?

If a tenant does not move out after tenancy has been lawfully terminated then the landlord can apply to the Courts for a possession order. Under the Accelerated Possession Procedure (which can be used where the tenancy was an AST) the process is usually fairly quick and inexpensive.

What if the Tenant Breaches the Tenancy Agreement?

Occasional inspections of the property will be undertaken and where appropriate a report will be submitted. Should the tenant be in breach of the terms of the Tenancy Agreement or fall behind with rental payments you will be informed accordingly. If it becomes necessary to take legal proceedings against the tenant or any other party we can give help and guidance but you will be responsible for instructing a Solicitor and be liable for all fees and disbursements arising.

What is an Inventory?

This is an absolutely essential document that provides a written benchmark detailing the fixtures and fittings and describes their condition and that of the property generally. We will always undertake to provide a full inventory of contents together with a schedule of condition and example photographs (where possible). This will be attached to and form part of the Tenancy Agreement. The Inventory is checked by us upon the tenant’s checkout and before the return of the security bond/deposit. Shortfalls in condition or damages will be assessed and suitable compensation agreed although it must be understood that 'fair wear and tear' provisions apply to all tenancies. Compensation will be deducted from the bond. - top

Do you take a Bond/Deposit?

In all cases, Stephenson Property Management Ltd will secure a bond from an ingoing tenant prior to the taking of possession. The Bond will comprise of a sum which is in excess of on months rent. Stephenson Property Management Ltd will act as stakeholders in the matter and the monies taken will be kept in a dedicated ‘clients accounts’. No interest will be paid to either party.

As from 6th April 2007 the Government introduced amendments to the Housing Bill which means that, neither landlords nor agents will be able to hold on to the deposit during a tenancy unless they are part of an approved scheme.

The legislation requires tenancy deposits to be safeguarded explicitly by schemes which also provide for the resolution of any disputes over their return. The Government awarded contracts to three companies to run its tenancy deposit schemes on 22 November 2006. The three schemes are: The Deposit Protection Services (The DPS) which is a custodial deposit protection scheme. Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (TDSL) which is an insurance based tenancy deposit protection scheme and The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) which is also an insurance backed deposit protection and dispute resolution scheme.

To protect your interests we have therefore joined the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). It is supported by the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The Scheme will allow us to continue to hold deposits on your property. If there are disputes over how they should be allocated which we cannot settle, they will be referred to the Independent Complaints Examiner. He will adjudicate within 10 working days of receiving all the necessary papers.- top

What about Landlords Protection?

We will obtain a detailed Tenant Assessment prior to the start of the Tenancy which includes employers’ reference, previous landlord’s reference plus a comprehensive credit check. We are authorised introducers to Homelet who are a specialist provider of Landlords insurance and rent guarantee products which are available at a competitive premium. If you would like further details on this, please do not hesitate to ask.

NB: This booklet is intended as a brief and general guide only and is not intended to serve as a full assessment of the rights and obligations of a Landlord of residential property. The law relating to Landlord & Tenant is extensive and particularly complicated. Professional advice is, therefore, considered an essential in protecting the Landlords interests. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.



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