The importance of reading documents
September 2, 2013
Over half (58%) of tenants admit that they don’t thoroughly read a tenancy agreement and only 64% say they fully went through their inventory.
By not fully reading the agreement a tenant may not understand their obligations and not realise why deductions might be made to their deposit at the end of a tenancy.
While it is rare for a dispute to arise – only 1 per cent of tenancies require mediation – it can cause unnecessary hassle for both parties.
The tenancy agreement is a contract between you and the landlord and it specifies certain rights to both you and the landlord. Before signing a tenancy agreement, make sure you read it thoroughly and do not be worried about asking for clarification on anything you do not fully grasp. It is important that you fully understand the terms and conditions within the document as they are usually legally binding.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements are the most common form of tenancy agreement and there are specific requirements linked to an AST that include:
- The tenant(s) must be an individual (i.e. not a company)
- The property must be the main and principal home of the occupant
- The property must be let as separate accommodation i.e. the landlord must not enjoy resident landlord status
- The rent must be below £100k per annum
It is also best to check that the agreement contains the following information:
- Your name, your landlord’s name and the address of the property which is being let,
- The date the tenancy will commence,
- The duration of the tenancy from the start to the agreed finish of the occupation end date,
- The amount of rent payable, how often it should be paid, when it should be paid and when it can be legally increased,
- The agreement should also state what the payments are expected, including; Council Tax, utilities, service charges, etc,
- What services your landlord (or the managing agent) will provide,
- The notice period which you and your landlord need to give each other if the tenancy is to be terminated.
The inventory is essential and it should be as comprehensive as possible. It should detail the state of the property when you moved in; both the condition of each area and the level of cleanliness. This will give you a clear guidance on how the property should be returned when it’s time to leave.
You leave yourself at risk of incurring a deposit deduction if you don’t meet the requirements laid out in the tenancy agreement, and your inventory provides the evidence of the condition of the property when you moved in. If you want to start a formal deposit dispute you must ensure you have read and understood the content of the inventory at the start as if you do not leave the property in the condition you found it, it might hamper your chances of making a successful claim.
It’s always best to fully read every document that you need to sign so that you can make sure that there are no nasty surprises down the line.