Changing a tenancy agreement
A tenancy agreement cannot usually be changed unless both parties agree to the changes.
If both parties agree, the change should be recorded in writing either by drawing up a new tenancy agreement or by amending the existing agreement. There are many reasons for changing or updating a tenancy agreement such as :
- The landlord wishes to increase the rent.
- The landlord wishes to change the specific terms of the agreement e.g. allowing a guide dog for a disabled tenant.
- The tenant wishes to transfer their tenancy to a member of their household who has lived with them for more than one year.
- The tenant wishes to share the responsibilities of the tenancy by having a joint tenancy.
Changes can be agreed verbally but this can lead to problems, as changes without written documentation are harder to prove. In this case, evidence of the change of agreement will usually rely on the fact that both parties accepted the change. For example, this could be accepting a variation to the rent received/paid. Witnesses to the new agreement being accepted can also act as proof of the changes.
It is always safer to ensure that any changes in the rental agreement are recorded in the form of a written document.
Landlords are required to make reasonable efforts to change a tenancy agreement if failing to do so would impinge on the tenant's right to not be discriminated upon based on sex, disability, religion or sexuality.
For example, if a tenant becomes disabled, the landlord is expected to amend the tenancy agreement to allow the tenant to make disability-related improvements to the property.
Before signing a tenancy agreement, it is important that the tenant understands the vocabulary and terms used. If necessary the tenant should ask for an explanation of any unfamiliar property terms before agreeing to the tenancy and signing the agreement.