“ tenant sees the house, he/she likes it, the renting process starts with simple contract; naming both parties, the rent, deposit element and the duration of the agreement “. This is a simple agreement which serves and works well until something goes wrong. Matters go to the law Courts for arbitration. Courts tend to side with the tenants and therefore the landlord loses out.
There is an alternative option available to protect the interests of the landlord. However, the legal protection afforded to the landlord by virtue of a long and complicated contract is done at the expense of the tenant. The lengthy agreement leaves the tenant out in the cold as it were. Matters are further complicated by the plethora of different agreements drawn up by Estate agents, large companies and private landlords. Every type of agreement brings to the fore complex legal problems which require clarification in advance of the agreement being signed.
So what exactly is the answer in respect of these tenancy agreements?
The law commission’s idea is to adopt a “CLEAN SHEET” policy for the entire rental sector. All the different agreements are to be scrapped and replaced with two agreements as follows:-
1) One covering the council or local Government tenants and housing association tenants
2) The second tenancy agreement for the landlord sector (private landlords, businesses letting residential properties and other commercial concerns such as providers of residential accommodation to students and health care key workers etc)
The new private landlord sector agreement being proposed will mirror the existing short hold tenancy agreement; the existing short hold tenancy being for a 6 months duration. The new agreement being proposed will be for a 12 month duration instead but with a break clause after 6 months. It gives the tenant the option to walk out of the contract at the mid point. This change in law will take affect by 2007.
What will this change do for the sector?
Current contract price ranges from under £5 for something off the shelf to £80 which is done for a landlord by a professional. Even though £80 for a 5 page contract seems a lot but it provides both the experience and inexperience landlord with a level of legal protection which is a must. It is money well spent because such a contract will pre-empt potentially complex legal problems from becoming huge obstacles.
The new revised and simplified tenancy contract will make the renting easier, cheaper as well as making it more flexible both for the landlord and the tenant. The only drawback is that the new contract will only cover the rentals of £25,000 per year. The other caveat being that the rented property must be the main residence of the tenant for this new contract to form the basis of the agreement. In all other respects the contract is the same as the former short hold agreement off the shelf.
Finally, a simple contract will put an end to the interpretation industry. There are armies of experts who make it their business to interpret different clauses of the contract and assign these clauses meanings which were not originally assigned or intended. The overhauling of this aspect of tenancy is long overdue and the new contract will address that very issue.