You will have certain statutory rights as a tenant that nothing in your agreement can take away. Most landlords will issue tenants with a written agreement, which outlines your rights and obligations from the start. If you are given a written agreement, make sure you read this carefully and have it checked at the Advice Centre if there is anything you are unsure about. Even if you don’t receive a written agreement you are legally entitled to a written statement of terms, detailing the basics of the tenancy. It is a good idea to ask for one of these if you are not given one, so that you know what your obligations are.
Fixed Term Agreements
In most cases, students will sign a fixed term agreement which runs for a fixed period of time, usually 12 months but it can be 6 or 9 months. Ensure the fixed term period is appropriate and covers the period you expect to be in the property. A fixed term agreement is very hard to get out of and unless there is a ‘break clause’ in your agreement allowing you to leave early, you would remain liable for rent for the remainder of the fixed term period. It is sometimes possible to negotiate with your landlord if you want to leave early but this is entirely down to the discretion of the landlord.
Joint or Individual Tenancy
If you are sharing accommodation with other tenants you may have an individual (each person signs a separate contract) or a joint (all tenants sign on the same document) contract. If you have a joint contract you will be considered jointly and individually liable for rent and any damage to the property. For these reasons it’s important to be sure about who you want to live with and make sure all tenants know what they are signing up for.
Excluded Lettings (Resident Landlord/Lodgings)
If the landlord lives in the property and shares the facilities with the tenant then this tenancy is excluded from the protection given to other types of tenancy, and the tenant has NO security of tenure. The landlord only has to give ‘reasonable’ notice to quit, usually determined by how frequently rent is paid.
Some terms in your agreement may not be legally binding if they are deemed unfair. If you feel there are unfair terms in your agreement, then have it checked at the Advice Centre.
See the Citizens Advice information on tenancy agreements.