Do we have to sign anything?
Yes, you do. The landlord must always give the tenant a written tenancy agreement. This shows exactly what the tenant and the landlord have agreed to. Both must sign it and the landlord must give the tenant a copy before the tenancy begins.
Who signs the agreement?
If there’s more than one tenant, it’s up to the landlord and tenants to decide whether everyone should sign. If one tenant signs, the law says that person is responsible for the property. If everyone signs, they are usually all jointly responsible. This means that if one tenant doesn’t pay their share of the rent, the others may have to pay it. If one tenant damages the property and doesn’t pay for it, the others might have to.
What should be in the tenancy agreement?
A written tenancy agreement and a good property inspection report can be very useful, especially if there are problems later on. An inspection report will make it much easier for a mediator or the Tenancy Tribunal to sort things out too. A basic tenancy agreement must include:
- The names and contact addresses of the landlord and tenant
- The address of the property
- The date you both sign the tenancy agreement
- The date the tenancy begins
- Both the landlord’s and the tenant’s address for service
- Whether the tenant is under 18
- How much bond the tenant is paying
- How much rent will be paid and how often
- Where the rent will be paid (the place or bank account number)
- Any real estate agent’s or solicitor’s fees that must be paid
- A list of any chattels (like curtains, furniture or a washing machine) that the landlord is providing
- The date the tenancy will end if it is for a ﬁxed term.
The landlord can put in other things such as:
- How many people can live in the house
- Whether the tenant must pay for metered water
- Whether the tenant can transfer the tenancy to someone else (but this doesn’t mean the tenant can’t have ﬂatmates or boarders)
- Where the tenant can park their car
- If the tenant can’t have a cat or a dog.
Tenants can’t give away any of their rights. For example, the landlord must give the tenant 90 days’ notice (or sometimes 42 days’ notice), even if the tenancy agreement says 30 days.
What is an ‘address for service’?
Landlords and tenants normally provide a physical street address as an address for service, but can now add an email address, PO Box number or a fax number as an alternate address for service. This address is where the landlord and the tenant decide that any mail regarding the tenancy can be sent. Make sure you use an address where you can receive information even after the tenancy ends. This is especially important when the Tenancy Tribunal has been asked to solve a problem. The landlord and tenant must both write their address for service on the tenancy agreement. The law says the address for service must be written down and it must be called the address for service.
What addresses should we give?
The tenancy address isn’t always the most useful address for service for the tenant to give. Tenants often give a friend or relative’s permanent home address. Landlords usually give their home or work address.