Many landlords formally renew their tenancy agreements every year but have you ever wondered why and whether you actually should?
The landlord asking the question - Do I have to Renew?
Last Friday evening, I missed a call from Max, a landlord who had bought his first investment property in Edmonton 3 years ago and who’d come to us to find him a tenant.
Last time I’d checked in with him everything was fine, he’d just been to inspect the flat and he was happy, his tenant Sasha was happy and the flat was in good shape.
But his voice message just said ‘Rachel, I’m worried. Please call me tomorrow.’
Yikes, that’s not a great message what had happened? Had Sasha lost her job and fallen behind with her rent? Had she opened a petting zoo in the lounge? Sublet the flat to holiday makers? Was the flat ‘glowing’ at night and was there an associated suspicious aroma?
I kept telling myself to relax and wait until tomorrow but………. I had to know!
Max: Oh hi Rachel, I didn’t expect you to call me tonight. It’s nothing serious, tomorrow would be fine.
Me: <trying to sound cool> Oh that’s Ok, I’m not busy, just thought I’d check everything’s Ok.
Max: Yes, everything’s fine, Sasha’s been great and no issues with the flat, except I had to replace the washing machine last month. But no that’s not it. I’m out with a friend and he’s just renewed his contract with his tenant, I remembered you saying I didn’t have to but his agent said he did so I just wanted to check.
Me: Ah, OK. Is 10am tomorrow good for you? <Some things really can wait!>
So do you HAVE to renew your tenancy agreement every year or not?
The short answer is no, you do not HAVE to renew every year but you may WANT to.
At the end of the fixed term your tenancy will become periodic. Either statutory periodic or contractual periodic, there’s a subtle difference between the two but the key thing is that the tenancy continues on a periodic (generally monthly) basis until one or other party formally gives notice.
As a tenant it gives security, you can be confident that you will be living in the same place for at least the next 12 months. This can be particularly important if for example you are in any of the following situations and would find finding a new home and moving to be really inconvenient:
- You have children going through exams,
- You’re applying for new schools,
- You have a big project coming up at work or
- You have a big event coming up in your personal life (e.g. getting married)
As a landlord, extending the fixed term gives security of income. The certainty that for the next 12 months the mortgage will definitely be covered is very attractive. This is one of the key reasons that many landlords opt for guaranteed rent tenancies of 3 or more years length.
Why would you NOT want to renew?
The simple answer is ‘flexibility’. As a tenant if your situation changes it can be very inconvenient to be tied to a property for a fixed period. Scenarios where flexibility is useful include:
- You’re likely to change jobs and locations,
- You’re starting (or growing) a family and need extra space,
- You lose your job or
- Your relationship with partner/ sharer breaks down.
As a landlord you may also appreciate flexibility if:
- Your circumstances change and you need to sell or move into your property,
- There were issues during the first fixed term of the tenancy and while everything seems ok now, you want to be able to take action quickly if necessary. Or
- You want to be able to take act quickly in the event of a tenancy breach, without resorting to court action.
Additionally, as a landlord when you renew you need to reissue certain tenancy related documents, so renewing actually gives more opportunities for getting things wrong and causing problems for the future.
Also, if you’re using an agent then renewing the tenancy will have a financial cost to landlord, tenant or both.
There’s no single answer as to whether you should or should not renew a tenancy agreement, the key thing is to consider your situation and work out what is most appropriate.
For me, while there are some circumstances where I can understand the need for a tenancy renewal, I tend to advise moving to a contractual periodic tenancy at the end of the initial fixed term
I find that if both landlord and tenant have the INTENTION of a long term tenancy but something goes wrong then it’s generally in everyone’s best interests to be able to move on without too much additional hassle. I mean, if your tenant loses their job and is struggling to pay the rent, do you really want to tie them to a commitment for the full term?
For additional practical landlord and tenant advice please see the blogs section of our website.