If you find tenants yourself, you’ll need to supply your own tenancy agreement. Even if a letting agent finds you a tenant, you might want to supply your own agreement to save money, as agents sometimes charge extra if they write one for you. In London, agents charge landlords between £150 and £350 for a tenancy agreement and they charge the tenants too.
You can download tenancy agreement templates from the internet or buy one from a stationers, such as WH Smith. Alternatively, you can use the Government’s model tenancy agreement. Note, however, that the Government’s agreement was designed for 2-year tenancies so you will need to amend this is you prefer a shorter tenancy. Either way, make sure you insert a break clause.
Then, all you need to do is fill in the relevant details such as the names for the tenant and landlord, the property address, rental period and rent and how the rent should be paid. It’s not rocket science, but you do need to make sure you don’t make any mistakes otherwise if you need to evict the tenant, you might have problems.
Also, make sure you are using the correct tenancy agreement for the type of tenancy you are offering. Most tenancies in England and Wales are Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST), however if you are letting to a company that’s renting the property for one or more of its employees, you will need a Company Let Agreement. Occasionally a company will source accommodation for its employees but the contract will be between the landlord and the staff member, in which case it’s fine to use a standard AST.
When renting one property to several tenants, you can use a single AST, which every tenant should sign, or you can have separate Rent A Room agreements for each tenant. The latter will provide you with more flexibility as you can terminate one tenancy (assuming you have a legitimate reason) without affecting the others, but you’ll have more financial protection with a single agreement which makes every tenant jointly responsible for the property and the rent.
Rent A Room ASTs are also readily available online.
Note that you don’t have to provide tenants with a written agreement, unless they are providing a guarantor, but it’s always a good idea to have everything written down.
Tenants and landlords don’t need to sign the agreement either, and if they do their signatures don’t need to be witnessed for the agreement to be valid, but it is better to insist upon this to avoid arguments later. Both the landlord and the tenant should keep a copy of the agreement.
You can amend off-the-shelf or downloaded tenancy agreements to suit your own requirements. For example, you might want to insert a pet clause, or you might want to make tenants responsible for the upkeep of appliances. However, all the terms on the contract must be fair to the tenant otherwise you won’t be able to enforce them. Also, you can’t transfer to the tenant any of your legal responsibilities, such as the maintenance of gas boiler or hot water or pipework.