Do you need a tenancy agreement?
Although there is no legal requirement for a written agreement, it is highly recommended that you have one to make clear the terms and to avoid later costly disputes. For example,
How much is the rent and when is to be paid; can it be increased?
How long is the tenancy?
Who is to be responsible for the payment of the outgoings?
Who is to be responsible for arranging repairs and maintenance and paying for them?
Are there to be any restrictions such as smoking in the house or keeping pets?
Problems and confusion can be avoided with a professionally drawn tenancy agreement.
Most landlords will want a deposit to give them some protection if the rent is not paid or there is damage/wear and tear at the property for which the tenant is responsible. The deposit is usually to be repaid at the end of the tenancy less any deductions that the landlord is entitled to make.
This has been an area of dispute with tenants alleging that some unscrupulous landlords were wrongfully withholding payment of the deposit. This resulted in the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme for properties that are rented after 6/4/2007 on an assured shorthold tenancy (the most common form of tenancy agreement). This requires the landlord to deposit the tenancy in an approved scheme within 30 days of receipt and to notify thetenant that he has done so. At the end of the tenancy it must be returned within 10 days unless there is a dispute and in which event there is a mechanism for resolving it.
If the landlord fails to so protect the deposit, or to provide notification, then thereare potentially draconian remedies in that the tenant may seek an award of up to three times the amount of the deposit by way of compensation. The landlord may also not be able to seek possession of the property from the Court until it is resolved.
Obtaining possession of the property
To obtain possession of the property the landlord will usually have to serve written notice giving at least two months notice and ending no earlier than the end of the tenancy.
There may be a requirement for a different sort of notice to be served if the reason for wanting to end the tenancy and regain possession is because of rent arrears or other breach of the tenancy.
If the tenant does not vacate the property in accordance with the notice given then the landlord will need to obtain a court order, known as a possession order, to then be able to use the county court bailiff to evict the tenant. The landlord cannot evict the tenant without such an order and if he does so he may commit a criminal offence.