Q. I’m fresh out of university and renting a property for the first time and feeling a tad daunted by the tenancy agreement, are you able to explain some of the more unusual clauses below?

A. A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and tenant that sets out both the legal and contractual responsibilities and obligations of the two parties. It should be written in plain and intelligible language (no unnecessary jargon!) and its terms and clauses should be fair and balanced, taking account of the respective positions of the parties and should not mislead about legal rights and responsibilities. Landlord and tenant should take care to individually negotiate any particular terms or conditions that are important to them or especially relevant to the particular let or property.

Joint And Several – What Does That Mean?

Mostly, where there is to be more than one (adult) person living in the property, the tenancy will say they are “jointly and severally” responsible. This expression means that, jointly, the tenants are liable for the payment of all rents and all liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy, as well as any breach of the Agreement. Individually each tenant is responsible for payment of all rent and all liabilities falling upon the tenant, as well as any breach of the Agreement until all payments have been made in full.

What Is A “Break-Clause”?

This is a clause sometimes inserted in a fixed term tenancy, typically if the initial fixed term is for a year or more. A break clause will usually be worded in such a way as to allow either landlord or tenant to give two months written notice at any stage after a particular date or period of the tenancy, thus terminating the tenancy earlier than the end of the original fixed term.

Some Golden Rules for Tenants

  • Read such important documents as tenancy agreements and terms of business carefully; never sign anything you don’t understand – ask questions – seek advice.
  •  Don’t have unreasonable or unrealistic expectations. If in doubt about what to do, or your obligations or responsibilities in any particular circumstances that arise – communicate, seek clarification.
  • Confirm important issues in writing – keep a copy.

Obviously there are too many clauses to discuss in this particular article but ARLA (The Association of Residential Lettings Agents) with have up to the date information on everything you need to know about renting a property safely.