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Changes and amendments to tenancy agreements

Making changes to a tenancy agreement

Tenancy agreements are legally binding, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed to adapt to your tenant’s circumstances. Taking a flexible approach and making amendments can also help your property appeal to a wider range of tenants.

We highlight some of the most common reasons for tenancy changes, what you need to do to make those alterations, and how much it costs.

Can landlords amend a tenancy agreement?

Yes. As a landlord, you can make changes to tenancy agreements, but you must agree on those changes with your tenants before implementing them.

If you’ve discussed the changes with your tenant and they agree, you’ll need written confirmation. Changes can be made in one of three ways:

  • in a new tenancy agreement
  • in a separate document (an addendum), which sits alongside the current tenancy agreement
  • as a ‘variation of a tenancy agreement’ which sets out the changes made and replaces the current tenancy contract

How you decide to update the tenancy agreement is up to you, but if you’d prefer a clear paper trail of changes, an addendum or variation of the tenancy agreement would be most suitable.

Drawing up a new tenancy agreement means those changes are built-in (rather than added on), which can make it harder to keep track of what’s changed. That said, having one updated contract can make it easier to keep all your landlord documents up to date and in one place.

Can landlords and tenants agree changes verbally?

You can agree to changes verbally, but unless you can prove what’s been agreed upon, it can lead to problems with tenants further down the line. Having a clear paper trail of what’s been agreed upon is particularly important if you have rent guarantee insurance and need to make a claim to evict the tenant.

A formal tenancy agreement (such as an assured shorthold tenancy) can help clarify both tenant and landlord responsibilities and is often a requirement of most landlord insurance policies. But if you don’t have an agreement in place, it’s still a good idea to confirm changes in writing in some way – for example, an email or text message.

Common reasons for changing tenancy agreements

Common reasons for changing tenancy agreements

Tenancy agreements can be amended for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Pets – if you agree to let your tenant keep a pet or working dog, you might make pet insurance a condition of their tenancy. You may also want to add that it’s their responsibility to repair any damage caused by their pet or service animal.
  • Changes in joint tenancies – if a couple splits or a partner moves in, you may need to change the tenancy to reflect this.
  • Sub-letting – for example, if a tenant decides to go abroad or take a sabbatical, and you permit them to sublet to a friend.
  • Setting up a business – most private rental contracts don’t allow tenants to set up businesses from home, so this should be amended if you’re happy for them to do this.
  • Change in tenancy end date – for instance, if your tenants want to move out earlier.

Many of these changes could affect your landlord insurance, so be sure to inform your insurer of any changes made.

How much does it cost to change a tenancy agreement?

Under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, there are guidelines about what you can ask tenants to pay for and how much.

When it comes to changing tenancy agreements, the expectation is that it shouldn’t cost more than £50 to make those changes. If it does, you must show where those extra costs have come from. Further information can be found here.

Can landlords charge if a tenancy agreement is amended?

You can only charge your tenant for changes if they’ve requested them. If you ask them to pay for a change they didn’t ask for (or agree to), it would be considered a ‘prohibited payment’, which is banned under the Tenant Fees Act.

Bear in mind that landlords can be heavily fined and even prosecuted for charging tenants fees that are prohibited.

Can landlords charge more for multiple changes?

If you’re asked to make several changes simultaneously and for the same reason, you shouldn’t charge for each change.

For example, if one tenant moves out and someone else moves in, you’ll need to remove one tenant from the agreement and add the other. While this counts as two amendments, that doesn’t mean you can automatically charge double.

Any fees you ask tenants to pay should be a fair reflection of the cost to you.

Can landlords refuse changes tenants have asked for?

If your tenants approach you asking to change their tenancy terms, you don’t have to agree. However, if they’ve asked for changes to accommodate a protected characteristic (such as a disability), you must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for them.

How many times can a tenancy be amended?

There’s no rule about how often you can amend a tenancy agreement. Realistically, multiple updates are more likely to happen in long-term tenancies where your tenant’s life circumstances change – for example if they get married or decide to sublet for a short while.

How do I transfer a tenancy for social housing?

If you work with your local social housing provider, you’ll need to check what your contract says about tenancy transfers or changes.

Landlord support from Alan Boswell Group

Private landlords face an increasing number of obligations, from carrying out right-to-rent checks to ensuring properties are safe and habitable. To ensure that your landlord or rent guarantee insurance remains valid, you must also comply with your legal obligations to your tenants.

Recording tenancy changes in writing, whether in a new contract or amendment, can help lower the risk of misunderstandings. Remember that any changes must be agreed upon before you update tenancy agreements, and any fees must be reasonable.

To learn more about how insurance can protect your property and rental income, speak to us at 01603 218000.