At propertysurveying.co.uk, we mostly concern ourselves with the surveying of property on behalf of the buyer or owner. We do sometimes look at a property from the point of view of the tenant, and we often work on behalf of landlords wishing to invest in property, perhaps as a buy to let .
However, in this article we take a look at some of the potential pitfalls of not reading your tenancy agreement. Whilst landlords must comply with legislation, they do occasionally add strange clauses to the contract they ask a tenant to sign.
A landlord in London put a clause in the agreement that required his tenants to furnish him with the names and addresses of all visitors who stayed for more than five days; another prohibited treadmills, while yet another required tenants to care for his pet parrot.
If you sign without crossing off seemingly unfair clauses, you’ll have to live with them for the duration of the agreement. The exception is when the point in question is against the law.
Below are some common extra clauses that get ‘snuck in’.
- Pet fees and pet deposits
Some landlords charge a deposit or even extra fees for pets. Any pet fees amount to extra rent, while a deposit should be refundable, provided no damage is done.
- Carpet cleaning
Others get the carpets cleaned between tenants, chalking this up as a cost of doing business. Other landlords expect tenants to professionally clean the carpets before they leave. If this is not done then a deduction can be made from the deposit before it is returned.
- Late fees
Some landlords will write into the agreement a charge for paying rent late. Before you pay any late fees, consult a legal specialist or the Citizens Advice Bureau as they may not have the right to make such a demand.
Many landlords do not permit subletting. If you are likely to want to sublet, discuss this with the landlord. Even if there is a clause that forbids subletting, a landlord may sometimes be happy to screen the subletter and subsequently allow it.
The Bottom Line
Read your lease. If there is something that you do not like, ask for clarification. If you don’t agree with a clause then ask for it to be removed or modified. The landlord does not have to change the agreement, but you don’t have to rent his place either.
Make sure you have a clear understanding before signing.