We are excited to let you know about the launch of our brand new Tenancy Builder version 2.0 which is available for beta testing by subscribers.
Only assured shorthold tenancies will work at the moment but others are coming soon.
We actually launched on Twitter a couple of days ago and experienced a few problems (which is always expected with a beta test) but these were rapidly ironed out and it now seems stable enough to email everybody.
You will recognise most of the boxes to complete but we’ve made a few big improvements along the way!
There are lot’s of new features! Let’s take a look at just a few.
The most noticeable improvement we’ve made is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while now. You can now create default settings that you always use which include:
- landlord name(s)
- landlord address
- deposit scheme you use
- default utility clauses (who pays gas electricity etc.)
All of these default options can be modified on a per tenancy basis so you’re not stuck with the options. They can just be inserted with one click rather than typing the same information each time!
Note: it takes a few seconds for the information to be populated – keep an eye on the progress indicator next to the button at the bottom.
The next big improvement is that the information boxes have been split into smaller pages which means you can now jump steps by clicking on the appropriate page number at the top if you want to leave sections out. Or, you can keep clicking “next” to go through each page.
A major problem until now is that most subscribers don’t have software (apps as they are now called) which will allow them to insert documents into the produced PDF such as gas safety record and EPC. Given the absolutely essential requirement that the tenant receives the EPC and gas safety record “before they occupy”, this was a problem – especially if completing the paperwork electronically. It’s always best if the tenancy can be sent with all the documents enclosed together.
We now have a new feature where the EPC and gas safety record can be uploaded. We will then insert the documents into the correct place with the final produced tenancy agreement!
As a point of note, this was the particular part we were having trouble with during the earlier testing.
The EPC will normally be a PDF that’s inserted but the gas safety record is likely to be a photo or scanned copy. If you can use a PDF version of the gas safety, that will always be best but we will now take the gas safety, convert it in the cloud to PDF, convert to greyscale and automatically resize the document as needed. This was a massively complex part of the new builder but we’re really happy with the result!
One of the most requested features from the old version was the ability to download a blank agreement. This was very easily possible with the old builder but it wasn’t too clear how to do it without reading the instructions provided.
Therefore, this was another improvement we were really keen to make for this big update and again we’re really pleased with the result!
Now, there is a quick blank agreement option which simply provides only the absolutely necessary options that we require to determine which agreement to send via email.
In fact, despite there being a few options available, you only need physically select the country (England or Wales) and the deposit scheme you are using (or if there is no deposit). After pressing the button, a blank agreement will be emailed for completion.
It should be noted that the blank agreement cannot be completed on-screen. It would need to be printed and completed in pen.
Another request we get from time to time is for the ability to add extra clauses. This isn’t something we are keen on but could be done previously with our management regulations template.
However, we have now added an additional clauses box for you to insert extra clauses you may like for the specific tenancy. Additional clauses can also be set in default settings so you don’t have to keep retyping.
Soon these clauses will be automatically emailed to us and although we don’t guarantee to read them, we may do so and either put any good ideas permanently in the agreements or advise if we think they are not suitable for modern letting.
We will see how this feature goes over the next few months.
We’ve just added a new feature to the Builder whereby different types of rent payment are now supported.
The options are:
- normal (first period in advance and payable every period)
- x months in advance (for example 6 months taken in advance)
- student lettings (3 fixed payments during the term)
Once selected, appropriate fields are presented for completion and the information is inserted into the tenancy agreement when produced.
One thing worthy of note is that the student option which provides for three separate payments during the term can in fact be used for just two payments during the term. If the third payment amount is left blank, the line will be removed entirely from the tenancy agreement.
This now means that our replacement front pages are no longer necessary and will be updated to link to the Builder in due course.
Produced agreements are now compatible with signable.co.uk if you select the appropriate option on the first page or set it in default settings. Signable is a remote signing web service which we use for our lettings.
Selecting “Yes” will insert special tags and signature fields will automatically be added to Signable when you upload the produced PDF as a template.
In addition to signature fields, the date of agreement is left blank and a field is entered into Signable for the landlord to complete at the same time as remote signing. This means the date of agreement will always be the date of the final signature.
When sending the agreement from within Signable, you create an “envelope”, select the template you’ve just uploaded and add the appropriate parties names and email. The parties will always be in order and it should go to the guarantor first (if there is one), tenant second (or first if no guarantor) and last should be the landlord or agent. This way you know it’s been signed before signing yourself. You may find it easier to change the names to “guarantor”, “tenant” and “landlord” within the template before creating an envelope.
Currently, the guarantee agreement is provided as a separate document but upon testing we found it easier to merge the two together when using Signable and send as one document so we may decide to change this and merge them in the cloud before sending you the link. We would appreciate any views on this.
All new design and changed clauses
The basic clauses contained in the tenancy are mostly the same as before but whilst we were on, we have changed the wording of a few clauses and changed a few things around.
Cleverly now, the system should (if it works properly) only say it’s made as a deed if the fixed term is for greater than 3 years. If not, the agreement produces standard wording as it’s not necessary to be a deed.
More noticeable is the new design and colours including a cover page for the agreement. We hope you like the new colours and theme and we’d love to hear your feedback (which can be done directly from the main builder page).
Under the hood
Although you don’t see what’s happening after clicking save, the changes are massive and a complete start again. We incorporate a number of cloud services all talking to each other to produce the perfect tenancy agreement!
It is massively complex what’s happening in the cloud but it allows us to convert images and to only supply the absolute necessary pages in the tenancy agreement.
We’ve experienced loads of hurdles on the way and at one point we thought what we wanted to do wasn’t possible! However, after many late nights and learning a new code language (just enough to get by) we managed to do it!
The only thing we would have liked to have done but couldn’t, was to display a link after clicking save like the old builder did. Now, the only option for us is to email it to you. It is also worth noting that the link sent in the email only lasts 24 hours after which time the file is deleted. You can always update the agreement though (like you could in the old builder) even if no changes are made and that will send a new link.
We hope you enjoy using the new builder and please do provide feedback (good or bad) using the feedback option provided. Please have in mind this is still a beta test and so there will still likely be bugs that need fixing. Please therefore be patient and report them to us.
The old version of the builder can still be used but over the next few weeks after extensive testing of the new version, it will be replaced altogether. Any entries created in the old builder will not be saved in the new one.