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Private Residential Tenancies – what to do?

On 1stDecember 2017 a new Private Residential Tenancy (“PRT”) structure came in to force requiring landlords to comply with a whole new regime and provide fresh style documentation for residential tenancies.  The old Short Assured Tenancy system will continue to apply in relation to tenancies entered into before that date, so what do landlords need to do when they suddenly find that a new style PRT is required?

The position is not as simple as we might hope.  A model PRT agreement has been prepared as part of the new rules but the landlord is not obliged to adopt this and can use their own version.  In addition, if the model PRT is used then a landlord is also obliged to provide a tenant with the ‘easy read notes’ to accompany it which can be found online.  If however, the  landlord uses their own form of PRT agreement then a different form of notes the ‘supporting notes’ must be provided.

To complicate matters further, the model PRT is not as simple a document on the face of it as the old Short Assured Tenancy form and contains various clauses classified as ‘mandatory’ and ‘non-mandatory’.  Although ‘mandatory’ clauses are show in in bold in the agreement, and there are many, it is not in fact the case than all of these ‘mandatory’ clauses are absolutely required by law to be in a PRT agreement.  The definition of mandatory grounds in the legislation does not square fully with the draft so there are clauses which landlords might consider unacceptable which can in fact be removed.  Landlords and tenants alike might then be understandably confused over what is and is not required.

Questions of whether the PRT model should be used or a bespoke document, what discretionary clauses should be included, what mandatory clauses are required or can be avoided, and what additional documentation needs to provided in each case, will inevitably leave most landlord’s scratching their head and wondering why the new system appears to make the documentation more complicated.  Whatever the confusion however, the documentation needs to be correct. If something is missed it might leave a landlord open to challenge by the tenant and a claim for compensation.

If you would like some further advice on this subject please contact our Associate Director John Wellburn on 01383 745779 or jw@businesslaw.co.uk.

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