Amending a tenancy agreement

How can you change a tenancy agreement without spending time and money renewing the whole contract? Find out how to make amendments to a contract using a tenancy agreement addendum.

A tenancy agreement can’t predict everything that might come up during the course of the tenancy. Circumstances often change, as may the relationship between the landlord and tenant. Maintaining a relevant agreement is an important part of managing a buy to let property.

Let’s say you find out three weeks into the tenancy that your tenant is a qualified painter and decorator. They would like to decorate the property to a professional standard for free, but the tenancy agreement doesn’t allow it.

You might also have to change agreement terms that discriminates against a tenant. For instance, a ‘no pets’ clause will discriminate against a tenant who uses an assistance dog. Unless you have good reason, you will need to change this clause to allow guide dogs in the property.

It is best practice to put any change to a tenancy agreement in writing. This will generally mean amending the tenancy agreement, which you can do by adding an addendum.

Amending a tenancy agreement with an addendum

An addendum is a form that is added to the end of the agreement. It details which parts of the original contract changing (if any) and what is replacing them. Both parties, the landlord and the tenant, need to agree upon and sign an addendum.

An addendum won’t always be necessary. Many clauses qualify their provisions with the phrase “without the express permission of the landlord”. In these cases, written permission will suffice. Written permission won’t need a signature, but you will wish to keep a copy of the letter for your own records.

When is an addendum not suitable?

Tenancy agreements cannot override UK statute. Standard contracts distinguish certain responsibilities, such as maintaining the structure of the property, as the landlord’s. Changing this using an addendum will have no effect and will make the clause unenforceable.

Likewise, new amended clauses should not make excessive demands or that impose excessive penalties on the tenant. A court would consider such terms unfair and thus unenforceable.

How to word a tenancy agreement addendum

Give the addendum a recognisable title like ‘Addendum to Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement’, numbering it if necessary, and open it with the following:

This agreement is hereby attached to and made a part of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement dated [date], between [landlord name] and [tenant(s) name] for the premises located at [rental property address]

Write out the new clauses to be inserted, referring to the original agreement where necessary. Enlist the help of a lawyer if you’re unsure about anything, or if the change is a complex one.

For instance, the new clause permitting the tenant to redecorate the property might include:

  • stipulations as to what colours to use and/or limits to the extent of the permitted changes
  • provisions for a new photographic inventory
  • instructions to return the property to its original condition when the tenant leaves

Then close it as follows, leaving space for the signatures afterwards:

This agreement is made in duplicate on this [day] day of [month], [year]

You might consider leaving space for witness signatures, too.

Addendum checklist

  • make sure both you and your tenant agree to the changes
  • make a written notice stating the change to be made to the agreement
  • include any further necessary terms, such as restoring the property at the end of the tenancy or extra cleaning required for pets
  • if the change supersedes anything in the original agreement, strike it out and make sure both you and your tenant initial the change
  • make sure both you and your tenant sign the addendum
  • make sure both you and your tenant have a copy of the addendum and keep it with your copies of the original tenancy agreement

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.