New model tenancy agreement from ARLA

This follows the interpretation and guidance on the impact of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations, UTCCR, issued by the Office of Fair Trading in May 2001.

Since then, ARLA has worked extensively with the OFT and submitted new draft clauses so as to produce a model Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, with standard pre-printed clauses, that is believed to fall within the requirements of the unfair terms regulations. These regulations treat landlords and their letting agents as suppliers and their tenants as consumers.

Although there are a number of terms that can be tested against the regulations for fairness, there are four tests that are most likely to be measured against standard tenancy agreements for fairness. These tests are:

• Is the clause written in plain, intelligible English?

• Is it misleading or have the potential to mislead the tenant over legal rights?

• Does it impose disproportionate or unfair financial penalties on the tenant?

• Does it create a significant imbalance in rights and obligations, to the detriment of the tenant?

"ARLA has discussed in great detail the content and style of standard clauses, built up over years of experience in the realities of landlord and tenant relationships," said Adrian Turner, chief executive of ARLA. "These new regulations mean that anyone involved in producing tenancy agreements will have to forget any historic prejudices and take an entirely fresh approach. We believe this new ARLA model Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement does precisely that."