Can I alter the terms of my tenancy?

If you have a fixed term or contractual periodic tenancy, you can only make changes with the tenant’s consent. It is best to put any alterations in writing.

Once the fixed term has ended, the agreement reverts to a statutory periodic tenancy and will continue on the same basis, unless either party proposes a change.

You or your tenant may suggest alterations to your agreement within a year of the tenancy starting. If you cannot see eye to eye, you both have the right to apply for a decision to be made by an independent panel of experts, called a first tier tribunal.

How do I go about making changes?

You must set out new terms and any consequent change to the rent on a form called a ‘Notice proposing different terms for a statutory periodic tenancy.’

If your tenant accepts the changes, they can then be included in your agreement, but if there is a dispute, you should complete another form entitled an ‘Application referring a notice proposing differing terms for a statutory periodic tenancy to a tribunal.’ This must be done within three months of the changes being outlined.

How does the first tier tribunal decide the terms?

The tribunal judges whether the changes are reasonable or if other terms would be more appropriate. Once a decision is made, the new terms and if necessary, the new rent, will apply from the date given.If the first tier tribunal sets new terms, can I propose further changes?

You can only make additional changes if the tenant agrees. You can, of course, propose a new fixed term or contractual periodic tenancy at any time.

Can more than one tenant hold an assured or shorthold lease?

Joint agreements can be made with two or more people. Each tenant is responsible for meeting the terms in full, which includes paying the rent.

If a joint tenant leaves before the end of the agreement and the landlord cannot recover the rent, the remaining occupants will be held responsible.

Can a person living in a house rented by someone else succeed the current tenant?

If someone who is part of a joint agreement dies, the remaining tenants have an automatic right to stay in the property.

Succession of a sole tenancy will depend on the situation, for example, if someone dies during a fixed term, the lease will pass to the tenant’s beneficiary. Under a contractual or statutory periodic agreement, a spouse or partner who has lived with the tenant as husband and wife has an automatic right to succeed, unless the deceased was already a successor to the tenancy.

If someone is living in the house that does not have permission, you can seek possession under the Housing Act 1988, provided proceedings are started within a year of the tenant’s death.

Can the tenant sub-let the lease to someone else?

A fixed term tenant must seek the landlord’s permission before sub-letting the property. If you do not want this to happen, you should say so in your agreement. However, if a premium has been paid i.e. a sum that is additional to the rent or deposit, the property can be passed to someone else, unless it is prohibited by the tenancy.

If you have a fixed term tenancy that is coming to an end and you are happy to renew the contract, it makes sense to include all occupants.

Under joint assured shorthold tenancies, both parties are jointly and separately responsible for all debts. For example, if one leaves with unpaid rent, or there is damage to the property, the other is liable for the full amount owed.

If your tenant has moved a partner, friend or lodger in because he or she cannot afford the rent alone, it could be in your best interests to draw up a new agreement to reduce the risk of arrears.

Tenancies often include a clause specifying how often and for how long tenants may have guests to stay. There is no way for a landlord to force additional occupants to leave or sign an agreement, but if you are insistent that your tenant should not have long term visitors, the only option is to serve a Section 21 notice and regain possession.

There are only two instances in which you may regain possession without a court order. The first is if the property has been abandoned and is no longer your tenant’s “only or principal home.” The abandonment and surrender procedure must be followed carefully and will not be suitable in all cases, so it is often safer to obtain court order.

If the tenant shares part of your home with you, such as the kitchen, bathroom or sitting room, this is, in effect, having a lodger and is not covered by the housing legislation. You must still serve a notice to quit, but once it has expired, you can change the locks.

A criminal offence can be committed if you threaten to use violence to gain entry to a residential property. In these situations, it is always best to seek legal advice before taking action.

s a landlord, you have a statutory duty to repair the structure and exterior of your property, including external windows.

It is possible to add a clause into your agreement that removes your liability if the damage is the tenant’s fault, but it must comply with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 to be enforceable.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) suggests an appropriate clause could read: “To replace all broken glass promptly with the same quality glass, where the tenant, his family or visitors cause the breakage.”

Making the tenant liable for damage done by third parties, such as burglary or vandalism, would not be acceptable to the OFT.

My tenant won’t let me inspect my property. Our agreement states I can gain access at a reasonable time, as long as I provide 24 hours notice. Can I use my key and enter anyway?

No, you cannot simply enter the property. It is safer to obtain a court order first, possibly relating to a specific breach of the lease.

Alternatively, you could consider taking steps to regain possession. It might be cheaper and ultimately preferable, if your tenant is going to be difficult.



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