Landlord's Details & Unfair Terms

Published on 2015-08-07

The Landlord and Tenant Acts 1985 and 1987 place certain duties on landlords. If a tenant requests in writing the landlord’s address, this must be given within 21 days of the request being received. If convicted, due to a failure to comply, the landlord or agent must pay a fine of up to £2,500.

Demands for Rent

A demand for rent is usually the tenancy agreement which states how much the rent is, when it is payable and whom it is payable to. Any demand for rent must contain the landlord’s name and address and the landlord must give an address (i.e. their residential address) in England and Wales where notices can be served on them. In order for rent to be lawfully due, a Section 48 (Landlord and Tenant Act 1987) notice must be served, which can be included in the tenancy agreement.

Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

This legislation affects residential tenancy agreements as well as terms of business contracts. Under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, contracts must be fair and balanced and an unfair term cannot be enforced; it is not legally binding on the consumer. The Regulations are ‘policed’ by the trading standards who can prosecute businesses through the courts and who may stop the business using unfair terms.

The Regulations require fairness e.g. a contract cannot take away the consumer’s legal rights. They are also required to be written in plain language with explanations if necessary, and should respect the best interests of the consumer who must be given time to read and understand any agreement. They also require good faith, based on the assumption that businesses should deal fairly with consumers and respect their interests.

The Regulations apply to individuals, not companies. If a company was the tenant, as in a company let, the Regulations do not apply.

Terms Excluded from the Regulation

Two core terms are excluded, but only if they are set out in plain language.

Price

The stated price charged for something cannot be unfair, providing it is set out in plain language. In residential lettings, a clause added to the tenancy agreement increasing the rent in a fixed term would be allowed, as long as it was separately negotiated and agreed between the parties, rather than added in the standard wording without the applicant’s knowledge.

Product

Wording that describes the product i.e. what somebody is or is not getting for their money is also exempt. In residential tenancy agreements, the product is the property being let.

Terms Covering the Law

There are some terms that the law states must be added to a contract or that law specifically allows to be included. In a tenancy agreement, for example, the landlord should be bound to ensure that the gas appliances are safe in line with legislation, or a clause relating to the ‘right of re-entry’ in the event of a tenant being in breach of their agreement.

Some clauses or terms in an agreement are not standard to the contract and will have been agreed separately by the parties to it.

Only a court can make the ultimate decision of whether a term is unfair or not. However, the OFT document gives extensive guidelines.

Categories: Residential Lettings Best Practice Legal Aspects of Lettings