Can I alter or negotiate a UK tenancy agreement before I sign?
April 28, 2014 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to negotiate my tenancy agreement with the letting agency (representing a private landlord) before I sign. Can I do this? We've already paid the deposit, the only thing left is to sign and get the keys.

So it's a pretty standard tenancy agreement, things like no pets without permission and no allowing anyone to smoke in the flat. However, there are a few changes I'd like to make before I sign it. For example:

-The agreement states no noise after 10PM. I find that ridiculous, and would be more accepting if it said "excessive noise". That may be very specific, but I think the current wording is ripe for abuse.

-The agreement specifies no lodgers or overnight guests without written permission from the private landlord. This is also ridiculous. I understand the connotations of 'lodger', but letting someone stay in my flat overnight or letting a friend from overseas stay for a week should be left to my discretion. I would be fine with keeping 'lodgers' in the agreement terms and deleting the part about guests.

-"The tenant agrees not to hang anything on the walls without prior permission." I realise this is generic, but I just want to know if it's possible to cross it out fully. (Especially considering the agreement already states that the flat and contents must be free from damage upon termination of the lease.) Or, better yet, if I can have the agreement state that I can hang as much as I want, without seeking permission, but with the promise to repair/return the walls to their initial condition.

Do I have any room to make changes with a UK tenancy agreement? I know sometimes contracts can be amended, but I'd like to know what my rights are.
Is there's a chance that they may withdraw the flat entirely if I ask?
posted by Vrai to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can ask but they can totally refuse. If both parties have already signed the agreement then you are too late. The part about overnight guests and noise after 10 can paint a picture of a less than ideal tenant so that might raise issues.

We have always lived very, very far from family so when they visit they stay for 1-2 weeks at a time. We explained this to the property owners and they were happy to remove the overnight guest clause. So explaining your family situation might be an angle to explore.
posted by saradarlin at 2:18 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

The likelihood of you being able to renegotiate terms in a contract depends on what the balance of power is.

If this apartment is in big demand, prepare to get turned down. If the landlords are struggling to fill their properties, you could probably get a fair amount of wiggle out of them.

Given the property market in the UK right now, I'm going to bet on the former, but good luck to you anyway. Oh, and if you do try to negotiate, leave the noise one until last, and don't push too hard on it. It's the most likely to give you difficulty I think, and you can use the response to the previous two to judge how to phrase the request on the noise clause.
posted by fearnothing at 3:04 PM on April 28, 2014

I've raised the issue of weird clauses in a UK tenancy agreement before, and the agent just said to cross the clauses out and initial them - it looked like they were boilerplate which had been unthinkingly left in. I believe they're within their rights to withdraw at any point until either the agreement is signed or you move in, but if they withdraw just because you asked, you might want to consider yourself lucky you've escaped an unreasonable landlord.
posted by doop at 3:33 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, a lot of this is boilerplate. Just ask. They won't withdraw it. I've done this several times, for things ranging to wall decoration to cats.
posted by corvine at 5:10 PM on April 28, 2014

Yeah, no harm in asking. If you are reasonable and suggest reasonable amendments, the landlord might be OK with it.
However if these are dealbreakers for you and you decide to go elsewhere, no way are you getting your deposit back (in case you weren't aware of that already).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:35 AM on April 29, 2014

You can totally ask. When I did this with a current landlord, I crossed out the lines in the boilerplate agreement she sent me (related to use of candles, putting things on walls and having a pet), then signed it and included a letter explaining what I had changed.

I also emailed her beforehand to ask if she would be okay with me making these changes. She was, signed it too and returned a copy to me.

Private landlords are usually better about this than letting agents.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:25 AM on April 29, 2014

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