The documents that come with renting a property may seem long and complicated on the outside. However, they’re hugely important and have a bearing on every part of your tenancy, from maintenance and payment right down to the finer details such as whether or not you can keep pets or have a smoke.
Known as either your statement of tenancy terms or your tenancy agreement, this long document tells you everything you need to know about what you can and can’t do while living in your rented accommodation. Whilst it can seem hard to understand, we’re here to cut through the jargon and let you know what it’s trying to say.
What is a tenancy agreement?
A tenancy agreement is a document where you agree to follow the terms set by the landlord and/or letting agency you rented your home from. It says that in order to keep living there, you have to go by their rules, whilst it also has all kinds of information in it about:
- Responsibilities for you, the tenant
- Responsibilities for the landlord or letting agency
- Repairs and maintenance
- What the tenant can and can’t have in the property e.g. pets, children, drugs
- Payment information
- Administration fees
It’s useful to read the agreement all the way through. That way, you’ll remember what you can do in your home without breaking any rules or incurring any unexpected costs.
What is a tenancy agreement fee?
Tenancy agreement fees are where you’re asked to pay something to cover the admin costs involved in helping you move in. This is perfectly normal and legal, while it helps you to secure a property for the start of your fixed-term tenancy.
This fee is separate from your deposit. While your deposit is refundable, your tenancy agreement fee is not. It covers the cost of getting references, checking your credit status and finding out about your current and previous landlords. You should receive a form to fill in, while the amount is usually around half a month’s rent.
Can you write your own tenancy agreement?
The answer to that question depends on who you’re renting from. While it’s possible to write your own, to be on the safe side, it’s worth looking at the agreement sent to you by the letting agency or landlord before reading it through.
Should I receive an oral tenancy agreement?
While some tenancy agreements are oral, where the property manager or letting agency list what you should do when paying rent and looking after the property in person or over the phone, written agreements are more legally binding.
Written tenancy agreements are also easier to reference in case you need to work out what to do in case something needs repairing or replacing, or want to know what to do should you fall behind on rent payments.
What is the difference between a residential tenancy agreement and a commercial tenancy agreement?
A residential tenancy agreement covers homes of all shapes and sizes, including flats, studios and houses. Commercial tenancy agreements are meant to be for shops, offices, warehouses and leisure spaces.
What is a rent book and do I need one?
A rent book is a kind of tenancy agreement that is handed out to anyone paying rent on a weekly basis. It needs to be filled in and signed every week, but the landlord or letting agent must provide one; otherwise, they will be breaking the law.
Signing a tenancy agreement
At the end of your tenancy agreement document, there will be a space where you need to sign it and put the date down. Though it may be tempting to just skim through the document before signing it to save you time, it’s worth reading through it end to end. That way, you’ll know what you’re actually signing up for.
Reading it a second and even third time will help you to spot anything you’ve missed. You also need to keep an eye out for anything that seems a little strange e.g. admin fees. If you do come across something you’re unsure of, feel free to raise it with your property manager. These agreements must have contact details for both the letting agents and landlord.