How do you know if your tenancy agreement is a good one?

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    How do you know if your tenancy agreement is a good one?

    How do you know if your tenancy agreement is a good one?

    The short answer if you are not a landlord and tenant specialist lawyer is: “With some difficulty”.

    The content can be assessed on three levels.

    To tackle the first requires only literacy and a bit of concentration. Ask the following questions of the text:

    How many typos does it have? The odd one is acceptable, but more indicates a failure to pay attention to detail which is not what you want in a draftsman.

    Are there any glaring grammatical errors? Without getting into arguments about notions of correctness (which I am more than happy to do in another thread) a draftsman needs to have a high degree of control of the formal register of English and that includes having a command of the accepted canons of standard written English.

    Are there any provisions which are obviously nonsense?

    Are there any indications that the text has been cobbled together from different sources or that the draftsman is not paying proper attention to what he is doing? For example:

    · Are words defined, but the thing defined then referred to by a different word? Examples would be: defining the tenant as “you” but later referring to “the tenant”; defining what is let as “the Property” but later referring to “the Premises”.

    · Do different parts of the text give the impression of being in different styles?

    · Are any provisions repeated?

    · Are there any glaring inconsistencies?

    Does the whole thing hang together well? Is everything set out in some sort of order?

    What is the layout like? Does it aid or hinder following the text?

    If a document does not get a high score, put it aside.

    The next level is where experience of legal documents is desirable, but not essential. It involves a much more careful examination of the text. You are looking for inconsistencies, repetitions and overlaps which are not immediately obvious. You consider how the provisions interact. You ask whether any definition may have an unexpected effect. You look for ambiguities. You make sure there are no provisions which on a careful reading do not make sense. The task is more difficult than may be realised. It is not a question of how literate or bright you are, but of getting into a way of thinking which, if it does not come naturally, needs to be nurtured.

    If a careful examination of a document reveals deficiencies, put it aside.

    If you have put a document aside do not pick it up again and try to improve it.

    The final level requires expert input. You are asking: Does this document have in it all it needs to have in it? Does it have things in it which ought not to be in it? Does it cover all the angles? Are they serious?

    A really useful post - thanks Lawcruncher


      I've suggested this should be a sticky - if you agree with me, please message the Moderator.
      'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


        I did consider that, but am a bit concerned about having too many stickies.


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