England Landlord Guidance

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3.8.1 Written Tenancy Agreements

Landlords should be aware of the benefits of written tenancy agreements and the procedures necessary for obtaining such an agreement. Although many short-term tenancies (three years or less) can be created without a written agreement, it is generally not advisable for landlords to allow occupation without first having secured a signed formal tenancy agreement.

3.8.2 Benefits of Written Tenancy Agreements

A written agreement is required by law for fixed-term tenancies of greater than three years, when the tenancy must be produced by deed, with signatures being witnessed. Even in tenancies of three years or less, landlords are strongly advised to have a written tenancy agreement, which the tenants should sign before occupation. The benefits of having a written agreement are:

  • it can prevent disputes later over what was agreed
  • if there is a dispute, it can help to resolve the dispute more quickly
  • a well drafted tenancy agreement will help protect the interests of all parties.

Landlords should note:

  • after moving in, occupiers cannot be required to sign a tenancy agreement
  • it will be difficult to evict a tenant without a valid tenancy agreement
  • the accelerated procedure for recovery of possession (see Chapter 5) will not be available unless the tenancy and required notices can be evidenced from valid paperwork.