Finding a tenant, tenancy agreements and deposits
Our social lettings agency, Let to Birmingham, takes the hassle out of finding a tenant.
If you need to advertise to find a tenant you could try the following options:
- Local newspapers and magazines
- A local letting agency
- A local estate agency
- Local shop windows or supermarkets noticeboards
- University websites
- Studentpad website.
If you contact a letting or estate agent you will probably have to pay a fee for advertising and renting out your property. They can also manage the property for you, subject to a management fee.
A tenancy agreement is a legal document that secures your position as landlord. It is sensible to put everything in writing so that both you and the tenant have a clear record of both your rights and responsibilities as the landlord and your tenant’s rights and responsibilities. The agreement should include information about:
- The type of tenancy
- The length of the tenancy
- How much rent the tenant should pay and how often
- Who is responsible for repairs
- How to end the tenancy and the procedure for leaving the property.
The tenancy agreement should also show the landlord’s (or agent’s) name and address and a contact telephone number.
You can let your property with only a verbal agreement, but we advise against this.
Please note that a tenant cannot claim benefits without a valid contract.
When you take a deposit from your tenant you should always issue a receipt and a detailed inventory detailing everything you provide (such as furniture, carpets and appliances) and describing the condition of the property. It is also useful to take photographs. If you have let your property on an assured short-hold tenancy you are required by law (Housing Act 2004) to register your tenant’s deposit with one of the three government-approved tenancy deposit schemes.
- Protect your tenant’s deposit within 30 days of receiving it
- Return your tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy.
You must also provide your tenant in writing with all the information the law requires within 30 days, this includes:
- Your contact details
- Details of the tenancy deposit protection scheme you used
- Information about the purpose of the tenancy deposit protection scheme
- How to get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy
- What to do if there is a dispute about the deposit.
A court can fine you between 1 and 3 times the value of the deposit if you:
- Protect a tenant’s deposit after 30 days
- Fail to give the tenant details of the scheme within 30 days, or
- Fail to protect the deposit at all (the court can also order you to protect the deposit).
If you do not protect the deposit and provide the tenant with the required information, your right to evict your tenant will also be affected. Normally if your tenant has an assured short-hold tenancy, you can evict your tenant simply by giving your tenant two months’ notice (Section 21 Notice) and getting a court order once this has expired.
If you failed to protect the deposit or give the tenant details of the deposit protection scheme, you can only get a court order to evict your tenant if they have breached a condition of the tenancy—for example, if your tenant has not paid their rent. You would be able to use a Section 21 Notice only if you return all the deposit money to the tenant before serving the Notice or if you are authorised by your tenant to offset the deposit money against rent arrears, damage or if your tenant has sued you and the matter has been fully resolved.