Although most tenancy agreements are presented by a landlord or an agent as non-negotiable, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be very carefully read. Whether or not you read every clause of your tenancy agreement, once you have signed it, you are still bound by it so it’s important that you understand what is in it. There are some common actions or inactions that will cause a breach of tenancy and we have covered these below for reference – make sure you read the document you signed though to see how these apply and what else might be specific to your arrangement.
If your tenancy says the property is no smoking then don’t smoke in the property. Whether you hang out of a window or have a cigarette and then spray air freshener around, you are still breaching the no smoking clause of the tenancy unless you light up only outside the building. The consequence of smoking when you shouldn’t is that you could be given notice and asked to leave. You may also find yourself responsible for damage from smoking, such as furniture burns or fabric odours.
Of all the anti-social behaviours, noise is probably the most problematic as it irritates residential neighbours enough to make them do something about it. Don’t think that just because you can’t see physical evidence of noise it can’t be used against you – many councils in larger cities have ‘noise vans’ that can be called out to record and provide evidence of noisy neighbours. Plus your neighbours can buy their own decibel measuring devices. Even without this equipment, enough neighbour complaints and your landlord may choose to simply activate the section 21 notice procedure, which means they can give you two months to leave without needing a reason. You could also find that the council take action against you for causing a nuisance.
Tenancies should make landlords responsible for the significant repairs, such as plumbing and drainage, structural repairs and boilers. However, tenancies will also require that the tenant notifies the landlord of an issue and if you don’t do this then you could be responsible for contributing to the cost of fixing any serious problems that result from issues not being notified and dealt with.
If you don’t pay your rent then clearly you give the landlord a reason to remove you from the property – whether or not you’re still within the protection of the fixed period. Be aware that in a shared house you may have a joint tenancy that makes you ‘jointly and severally liable’ with your housemates – this means that if one of your housemates doesn’t pay their rent, you’re liable for that too.
If you simply walk away when the tenancy comes to an end then you’re in breach of the requirement to give notice – even if the tenancy is naturally ending – so read the notice provisions in the tenancy. Without notice to end it, a tenancy agreement slips into a periodic tenancy and so you will remain responsible for rent payments until you give notice in writing and in the correct form. Make sure you go through the end of tenancy formalities too – a check out inventory will help you prevent the landlord making unfair deductions and you need to get the property cleaned and hand back the keys, as the agreement dictates, or you could be billed for a locksmith and professional cleaners by the landlord.
Denying the landlord – or agent – access
Landlords – or anyone working on their behalf such as an agent – must always give you 24 hours notice before entering the property. They should also make sure that you consent to their being there. However, you cannot unreasonably withhold this consent – so if it’s not convenient for them to arrive on a certain day at a certain time then you must suggest an alternative. Landlords are not allowed to force entry into a property at any time. However, if you repeatedly prevent them from coming in, change the locks, or are angry and abusive they could take action to have you removed from the property via the courts.