...and they’re 3 things you don’t want to be
“FREE TENANCY AGREEMENT TEMPLATE [Click Here]!” Free contract templates. The internet is swarmed with them, and despite being aware of all their flaws, we can't help but use them. One popular landlord website offering such templates proudly boasts “Over 100,000 Happy Landlords”. To an extent, we can understand the appeal: they are easily available, seemingly free, and if they were good enough for thousands of landlords why should they not be good enough for you? However, with the increase in regulation and landlord obligations, it is essential that a private landlord understands their obligations which are reflected in a legally valid rental agreement. Whilst it might be tempting to use a free assured shorthold tenancy agreement template, cost-effective solutions exist to create lawyer-approved and tailored tenancy agreements. Here are three clauses, which from studying some of the most popular assured shorthold tenancy agreement templates (AST agreement) on offer, are probably missing from your tenancy agreement.
The Data Protection Act 2018 (the UK's implementation of the European Union's GDPR) imposes a duty on everyone who handles other individuals' personal data to follow certain data protection principles. Personal data includes information such as names, birthdays, phone numbers, and addresses. As a landlord, you are likely to be collecting, processing, and storing the personal data of your tenants. This means that you'll fall within the remit of these data protection laws.
Many free tenancy agreement templates do not contain clauses on data protection or information privacy, or if they do, the clauses are insufficient to comply with the current legislation such as UK GDPR. It is important that your tenant understands that you will be storing their data, and maybe even passing it along to third party contractors from time to time. For example, you might need to share their details with trades people or referencing companies. Tenants should also know that they have the right to request sight of any personal information of theirs that you hold, beyond what is included in the signed tenancy agreement.
Some of this information may be contained in the Fair Processing Notice which you have given the tenant. However, as the agreement which purports to set out the terms of the landlord-tenant relationship, and the duties owed by each party to the other, this information must also be addressed in the tenancy agreement. It should explain how you will uphold the tenants' statutory rights in regard to the data you collect, process, and share with other parties.
If a landlord wants to increase rent during the fixed term of a private residential tenancy, they will need to use a rent review clause. This is a contractual provision which details how the landlord can increase the rent payable by the tenant during the tenancy.
While many landlords never intend on conducting a rent review during a fixed term, some do so, especially those on longer tenancies or when external factors such as inflation are having an impact on the landlord's bottomline. There is a very good chance that their downloaded free tenancy agreement template did not come with a rent increase clause. This would mean that a landlord can either hope the tenants happily agree to have their rent increased, or wait until the end of the fixed term to serve a Section 13 Notice in order to increase the rent. Even if a tenancy agreement contains a rent increase clause, these clauses are frequently drafted so vaguely to apply to as wide a range of situations as possible, that they are unenforceable. Valid rent review clauses in tenancy agreements need quite a lot of detail which is probably missing from your free residential tenancy agreement, such as by how much rent will be increased at a time.
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Occupiers' liability is the liability owed by an occupier to people who visit or trespass the premises. An occupier may be the person with legal title to the property, or the person who occupies it by virtue of a tenancy. Tenants therefore have a duty of care to all their visitors to ensure that the premises are reasonably safe.
This duty must be communicated to tenants, especially if they are living with other people in an HMO (house in multiple occupation). In a typical HMO, the tenants have a license to the shared parts of the property, but the landlord remains in control of them and is thus seen as the occupier in the eyes of the law. Many freely available tenancy templates do not address occupiers' liability, potentially creating confusion over who, between the landlord and tenant, is responsible for keeping what part of the property safe.
Legislate is a platform which offers more than templates, it invites landlords and letting agencies to negotiate and create valid legal tenancy agreements which are easy to read and manage. Legislate's library of lawyer-approved contract templates are up-to-date with the relevant legislation and include all the agreements landlords and letting agents will need to manage their rental property, including an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, a how to rent letter, notices for rent arrears and rent increases, and a letting agent terms of business agreement template.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.