Can I use a verbal tenancy agreement?
Verbal tenancy agreements are legally binding.However, these types of agreement are not recommended as the tenant and landlord can find problems occur, for instance with rent payments and deposits. Without something in writing ambiguity may arise as to what was agreed.
An agreement still exists even if there is only an oral agreement between the tenant and the landlord. For example, it may have been agreed at the start of the tenancy how much the rent would be and when it is to be paid, whether it includes fuel and bills such as water rates and who is allowed to stay in the property. Once a landlord has accepted rent from a tenant then a previous verbal agreement now becomes a legal agreement.
Oral agreements can be difficult to enforce because there is often no proof of what has been agreed. For instance, a particular problem may arise which the agreement did not cover. As with written agreements, oral agreements also provide the landlord and tenant with certain rights, but the difference is that they could be more difficult to enforce. If a dispute went to the courts, there would be no written tenancy agreement as evidence, so this could result in one of the parties not getting the rights they believe were verbally agreed upon at the start of the tenancy.
It is therefore generally in both the landlord and the tenant’s best interests to have a tenancy agreement in writing to ensure that both sides understand their rights and responsibilities. An agreement in writing will also prevent disputes over what the verbal agreement contained.
If however, a tenant is in a verbal tenancy agreement then they should consider having a rent book, which they ask the landlord to sign when they pay their rent. The tenant may also wish to ask the landlord to provide them with a written Statement of Terms. If the tenant requests the landlord for a Statement of Terms, this should be provided within twenty eight days.
The Statement of Terms should include:
- The date the tenancy started
- The amount of rent payable
- The dates when rent is due
- If the tenancy is for a fixed term or not, and if so the period of the fixed term.
- Information on rent reviews
The following are the basic rights that a tenant has in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy regardless of what is agreed upon in a tenancy agreement.