A new survey by insurer Direct Line for Business suggests that landlords who have not instructed letting agents to act for them are often making significant numbers of errors - including unwittingly giving tenants contracts that are not legally compliant.
Of the landlords who don’t use a letting agent, 58 per cent used adapted tenancy agreements from either old agent contracts or other landlords (38 per cent) or an updated template they found online (20 per cent).
It appears landlords employ letting agents when they first rent out the property, then use the old contract template when agreeing a direct rental with new tenants or upon renewal with their existing tenants. Direct Line for Business says the lack of professionally reviewed tenancy agreements may explain why 13 per cent of landlords have experienced disputes specifically arising from tenants’ rental contracts in the last two years.
It says it is also a concern that nine per cent of landlords have not informed their tenants that their deposit is held in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme - despite the fact it’s a legal requirement that landlords provide the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection scheme and its dispute resolution service within 30 days of taking a deposit.
The research also revealed that four per cent of landlords have not taken any deposit from their tenants.
“If an old contract is adapted it may not comply with new legislation or be relevant for the current market. Given the volume of disputes arising from tenancy agreements it’s important to get the contract seen by a legal professional before it’s signed” explains Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business.
The survey reveals that some 38 per cent of landlords in England have never heard of the government’s ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ and only 29 per cent of landlords have supplied or directed tenants to this guide.