Welcome to my first Family Homes blog. I will be writing a new blog every few weeks focused on the property industry. As a business, Family Homes provides a range of property related services which includes lettings, sales, tenancy and landlord services and property management. This means the blogs will reflect a broad range of property related subjects. You can find out more about us here. Otherwise I hope you enjoy the blog.
One of the issues that I often come across in my role as a letting specialist is around tenancy agreements. We recently had a landlord visit us in our office also known as the landlord advice centre, who said that when he let his property, the tenants had not signed the tenancy agreement before moving in. They have now been in the property for a year and have stopped paying the rent.
The landlord was seeking help on how he could recover legal possession of this property. He had already visited 5 agents locally who said that they were unable to help him.
I have worked in the industry for a number of years and have come across problems like this before. Legally under s54(2) of the Law of Property Act 1925 there does not have to be a signed agreement in order to create a legal tenancy – although I would always advise that you do get one signed. Therefore the fact a tenant does not have a written tenancy agreement does not affect a tenant’s statutory legal rights, in fact, nor does it lessen the landlords legal rights. Both parties are still protected by statutory/common law. If you make a verbal agreement for example then it is still covered in law as long as they have moved in and have started making payments.
As a result, the landlord should still be able to serve the correct section 21 notice in order to request possession and if the tenant fails to move out then the landlord would have no alternative but to take legal action in order to re-gain possession of the property.
If your tenant paid a deposit, you cannot use Section 21 unless the deposit has been protected in accordance with the tenancy deposit schemes which came into force in April 2007.
You can otherwise seek possession at any time under Section 8 but if you are seeking possession during the fixed term, as long as the tenant has breached the tenancy under one of the terms and you can only use Section 8 if the tenancy makes provision for the tenancy to be ended on the ground for which you are seeking possession. The notice you must give if you are using Section 8 varies from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the ground you are using. Under section 21 it is two months notice.
It is the view of the court though that the landlord who is letting the property should ensure that he provides the tenant with all the correct tenancy paperwork. As a landlord and letting agent, we never release any keys of a property until all of the credit checks have been undertaken, the deposit and the first month’s rent has been paid and all of the tenancy paperwork including the tenancy agreement has been signed.
On a different note, many landlords undertake to let their properties to friends to help them out. However, as the saying goes, never do business with friends where rent is concerned. Landlords in these situations sometimes also fail to ensure that all of the paperwork is correctly completed.
As a result, employing the services of a professional letting agent maybe a better option as they are placed to find the most suitable tenant, as they approach this from a business point of view ensuring that the tenant has passed all of the requirements in order to let the property. They will also ensure that they take a deposit and all the paperwork is correctly completed. This means that both the landlord and the tenant are protected should something go wrong. In some cases landlords have introduced us to their friend who wants to let the property, this provides some distance between the friendship and the tenancy. Giving someone the keys to your property is the easy part, gaining legal possession of the property can be a little more difficult.
If you find yourself in such a situation, please don’t worry as help is at hand. The important thing is to obtain professional advice and act quickly. So if you need help in finding a tenant, advice on agreements or even gaining legal possession of your property then do not hesitate in contacting me or one of the team at Family Homes on 01795 473434 visit our Family Homes website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.