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Why reading the small print in a tenancy agreement is so important

Often many people skim over the terms and conditions in a rental agreement simply because they think they don’t have the time or can’t be bothered to read all the small print. We strongly advise against this and recommend you take the time to read and understand the agreement in its entirety.

Most tenants do not realise the severe consequences that might ensue should they not abide by their obligations as set out in the contract, you can even be evicted in some circumstances. For that is what a tenancy agreement is, a legally binding contract in law between two parties, you the tenant and the landlord. It is your responsibility to be sure you strictly comply with all the conditions. You should not assume all is well and it’s “just a standard agreement “ just because the landlord has told you so.

So before you sign a tenancy agreement, make sure you read it through thoroughly and get a legal representative, or if you cannot afford that get someone you trust to read it for you including all the small print.

By signing, both you and the landlord have certain rights protected in law which cannot be overwritten by the contract. This is a very important safeguard.

Before you sign make sure that you understand all clauses, so there can be no nasty surprises after you have signed.

Many tenants agree a break clause with their landlord, which allows the tenant to end the agreement before the lease has expired. But some terms and conditions in the agreement can jeopardise that privilege, if they are not fully understood.

Also make sure you are clear about what kind of tenancy agreement you are signing if you are renting a property with friends or business colleagues. If all the people living in the property sign one agreement with the landlord when you move in, then it will be a joint tenancy and you’ll all be responsible for each other , however, if each of you signs a separate one, you will have separate tenancies and only be responsible for your own part.

Things to look for in a tenancy agreement.

Always check the agreement includes all the relevant information, such as what the rent covers, whether you can leave before the end of the tenancy and how much notice you have to give, and any rules on things like pets, guests and smoking.

Check the tenancy for any costs you might incur for late rent, renewing it later, check in and check out fees,.

Make sure it tells you where any deposit is being held and that it includes any prescribed information about any deposit scheme being used.

Don’t forget If you have a joint tenancy, all the tenants have exactly the same rights. You are all equally responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your agreement. If one tenant is not paying the rent or causing other problems, be ready that you could end up having to pay her/his share or any other costs. Your landlord may be entitled to keep the deposit if there is any rent owing or damage to the property at the end of the tenancy – even if it is not your fault.

We re-iterate - Do not sign a tenancy agreement until you have read and understand fully the terms and conditions within the document and understand the consequences of non-compliance because it will be too late once you have put pen to paper.

Good luck.

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