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Tenancy Information

For prospective tenants and landlords, the world of tenancy is unexplored territory. Although most people can imagine what to expect from their tenancy agreement, it can help to familiarise yourself with the terrain before you make any important decisions.

We’ve put this sheet together in order to help you make sense of it.

What is Tenancy?

Essentially, tenancy is what’s known as an “estate in land” (the rights and interests of a person over a property) granted for an agreed period of time.

Tenancies can vary drastically: 16 weeks, 6 months, 1 year or even 100 years. This wasn’t always the case however: until February 1997, the minimum tenancy that a landlord could grant was 6 months. But thanks to the Housing Act 1996, it is now possible to grant a shorter one.

Tenant’s Rights

Unlike lodgers, tenants have exclusive use and possession of the property for the duration of their lease. Meanwhile, the owner of the property (the landlord) is paid rent by the tenant in return.

During the tenancy, the tenant is the recognised “owner of the land” and as such, is entitled to act as any other property owner. However, they must make sure that their actions are in accordance with the terms of their tenancy or lease agreement and statutory requirements.

A freeholder landlord permits tenancy to:

  • a head lease holder
    The head lease holder can then grant a tenancy to:
  • a sublease holder
    The sublease holder can also grant tenancy to a new tenant.

This can continue as long as each sublease doesn’t last longer than the lease of the tenant who granted them tenancy.

The Landlord’s Duty

The landlord must adhere to numerous legal obligations following a residential tenancy agreement. These obligations include the maintenance of the property (encompassing annual gas and safety checks), and the managing of the tenant deposit scheme (TDS) and energy performance certificates (EPCs).

Seeing as contractual tenancy agreements serve to illustrate the unambiguous understanding between the landlord and tenant, they can be enforced by a court of law. Residential tenancies are specifically governed in part by Parliamentary rules which means they cannot be altered by contractual common law rules.

In any residential agreement between landlord and tenant, the contract must be deemed “fair” i.e. not come under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

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