Contracts and notices
There can often be confusion regarding contracts and notices. In order to try and help make this area a little clearer we have included a brief overview for your convenience.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
When your application to live in a Tabern property is successful, you will be offered a fixed term contract for a minimum duration of 6 months. A “fixed term contract” simply means that you agree to pay rent for that period of time. Once signed and witnessed (signed) the contract is a living legal entity in its own right recognised in law, legally binding you and your landlord to all of its provisions and obligations. You should only sign this document if you are prepared to pay the rent and meet all of its provisions for the duration of the term. If the contract is for 6 months you are agreeing under law to pay rent for 6 months, if the contract is for 12 months, you are agreeing to pay rent for 12 months and so on and so forth.
Your Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is very clear and has a defined start and finish date. There is no ‘get out’ clause and no notice period that would enable you to leave before the end of the term. Should you decide you wish to leave early, under the terms of your contract, you would be required to pay the full rental value of your contract until the specified termination date. Assuming the property is in good order, all rent has been paid on time and there are no issues to address, you will be offered the option of another agreement at the end of your agreement.
Periodic contract (or month to month)
In some cases there may be scope to sign a Periodic Contract, agreeing to pay rent month-to-month with a 1 month notice period as opposed to a fixed term contract. Often periodic contracts are entered in to after a successful fixed term period. Under these terms and conditions you are agreeing to pay rent per calendar month for the use of the home you live in with ability to inform your Landlord of your intention to quit the property with one month’s written notice in advance. Please note this notice must be served on or before your rental payment date the month before you wish to leave. Unlike a fixed term contract, under a Periodic contact, your Landlord also has the right to serve notice upon you to quit the property. The only difference being that the Landlord is obliged to give you two months’ notice of his/her intention re-possess the property from you.
Pros and Cons
The benefit of a fixed term contract is the security it offers you and your landlord i.e. you know you have the period of months in your home that the contract provides for without the fear that you may be served notice to leave at any time. Clearly this is subject to all of the other provisions of the contract being met and the Landlord ensuring he/she meets all of his/her obligations in relation to the property. Of course it does mean you are committed to pay the agreed rent for a specified period. Conversely a periodic contract offers no security regarding your right to stay in your home, but does provide the flexibility to move on at short notice.
You may be served one or both of the following notices during your tenancy:
Section 21 notice
Under section 21, (once the initial fixed term of the tenancy has expired) the tenancy can be terminated by giving you not less than 2 months’ written notice. That is a formal notice, which requires you to leave the property no later than the end of the two months’ notice period. The notice is not required to give a reason or justify the decision. Your notice period begins on the date that the document is served to you and you will still be responsible to pay rent during this period.
This notice is served by your landlord and can be for many reasons. Sale of the property, family tenants, or change of use are just some of the reasons your landlord may wish to reclaim possession of the property and a Section 21 notice is not necessarily a reflection on you.
Should you not leave on the date specified in the notice, we then hand the situation to our legal partners who will apply to the court for a possession order. Once the papers have been received by the County Court, copies are sent to you. If you wish to defend your decision to stay you will need to notify the court within 14 days. If the court feels that there may be an arguable defence, a date will be arranged to present your argument. Reasons such as an inability to pay rent because of an employment problem is not a substantial-enough defence to warrant withholding rent or failing to vacate.
Section 8 notice
A section 8 is used when you have broken a term (or terms) of the tenancy agreement, e.g. to pay rent. The majority of evictions through the Section 8 procedure are due to non-payment of rent. This notice is more typically used where you have accrued rent arrears and the Landlord wishes to pursue you through the County Court system in order to get you to pay them and/or seek a judgement against you.
In the event of rental arrears or other breach of contract, Tabern Property Consultants will give you a short grace-period to enable you to rectify the situation. Should you fail to do so within this time court proceedings could be brought against for both a possession order (to obtain possession of the property) and a monetary judgment in respect of any rent arrears.
Court proceedings can be lengthy, consuming the time, money and energy of all those involved. It is therefore always best to ensure you understand and comply with all the terms and conditions of your rental agreement. You always have the option to clarify your understanding of your agreement with a member of the Tabern Property Consultants team. If we are unable to reach a resolution to any issues regarding your tenancy court proceedings will begin and it should be noted that at the end of it, you could end up with a judgement against you and forced by law to pay the outstanding arrears as well as losing your home.
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