The Negotiator has discovered that the downloadable assured shorthold tenancy contract agreement live on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s website with guidance for agents and landlords is woefully out of date.
This unusual situation has arisen because officials at the MHCLG appear to have forgotten to upload an new version of the model tenancy to their website following the tenant fees ban.
The Residential Landlords Association’s spokesperson said: “The RLA is aware that the model tenancy agreement on the Government’s website is out of date and has raised this with them.
“It is disappointing that they have failed to update it to reflect a large number of different legal changes.
“If Ministers want to help landlords abide by the law it is vital that the model agreements are accurate otherwise landlords could inadvertently find themselves in trouble.
“We would strongly advise any landlord who has not done so to join the RLA as a way of ensuring they can access to most up to date material and understand clearly their legal responsibilities.”
The current version on the site is dated February 2016 and therefore pre-dates when the tenant fees ban when live on June 1st.
The Negotiator has asked MHCLG to clarify what’s going on and how many times the document has been downloaded since June 1st when the tenant fees ban went live in England, but have not received a reply.
Potentially, thousands of landlords could have signed the document that includes a now prohibited payment.
On page 24 of the document it advises landlords and agents on what to do when a tenant asks to have a dog or cat live with them.
“The Tenant must not keep any pets or other animals at the Property without the prior written consent of the Landlord which must not be unreasonably withheld or delayed,” it says.
“If permission is given, it may be given on the condition that the Tenant pays an additional reasonable amount towards the deposit.
“If consent is given on the condition that additional deposit is paid by the tenant, then the landlord must also protect that additional deposit in an authorised tenancy deposit scheme.”
But since June 1st such an ‘additional reasonable amount towards a deposit’ has been prohibited and deposits are limited to five weeks’ rent.
The only way landlords or letting agents can charge extra for pets is to charge an additional ‘pet rent’, as many have begun to do.