Free Tenancy Agreement (Contract) Checking Service
Your Students’ Union Advice Centre offers a free contract checking service, so if you are about to sign a new contract and you are unclear about any of the terms, we can explain them to you and also point out anything that sounds unfair or that you need to be aware of. To access this service please make an appointment with one of our qualified Advisers through the BCUSU Advice Centre.
It's important that you take time to get to know your friends before you decide you want to live with them, as once a tenancy agreement is signed for a property, it's not easy to get out of if you change your mind later in the year.
We release property adverts on November 1st each year, for the next academic year and we have an informative Housing Week in November.
What is a Tenancy Agreement?
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between you and a landlord, although many agreements will also include the details of a managing agent as well. Once a contract has been signed, there are no guarantee you will be able to cancel the contract.
The tenancy agreement gives certain rights to both you and your landlord, for example, your right to occupy the accommodation and your landlord's right to receive rent for letting the accommodation. It lets you live in a property as long as you pay rent and follow the rules. It also sets out the legal terms and conditions of your tenancy.
We recommend that you get a written tenancy agreement from your landlord or agent and it should be signed by both you and your landlord or the landlord’s agent. The landlord should provide you with a copy of the agreement.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
A tenancy can either be a fixed-term (running for a set period of time) or periodic (running on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis). The most common form of tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) with most student tenancies being offered for 12 months, usually from 1st July to 30th June. Tenancy lengths for private halls can vary, and are sometimes shorter than the standard 52 week contracts.
When signing a 12 month tenancy, you may find the landlord or agent may offer a summer concession through the form of a rent free period or half rent (usually for July and August), or a summer retainer. Adverts on the Student Homes website will show if the landlord has offered a summer concession.
If you have been offered a rent free or half rent summer concession, then you have a legal right to access the property from the start date of your tenancy, and lots of students choose to store belongings in the property until they return to commence their studies in September. If you wish to live in the property over the summer months, then you may be asked to pay full rent.
Any summer concessions should be made clear in the tenancy agreement, so always check your tenancy carefully before signing, and if you have any doubts, contact our Advice Team for a free contract check.
From June 1st 2019 the tenant fee act was introduced in England, meaning landlords and agents will no longer be able to charge a number of fees for new tenancies signed on or after that date. This includes tenancies that are being renewed.
Joint Tenancy Agreements
If you and your housemates are all listed on one tenancy agreement with a landlord, then you will have a joint tenancy, with the following implications:
- tenants are jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent and for any damage to the property
- if a tenant does not pay their share or leaves, then the other tenants may be required to pay the outstanding rent amount and the landlord has the option of pursuing any of the tenants for the arrears
- if a tenant wants to move out before the end of the contract, it is up to all tenants to find a replacement or they can agree to continue with the tenancy but cover the extra rent
- if a replacement tenant is needed, all existing tenants must agree to the new tenant
- in a joint contract, landlords cannot evict one tenant without evicting all of the others
- if you have any problems paying your rent or continuing to live in a property, always talk to your landlord or agent at the earliest opportunity
Individual Tenancy Agreements
If each of you signed a separate agreement with the landlord, then you will have individual tenancies, with the following implications:
- you are only responsible for paying your own rent
- you will be responsible for paying for any damage within your own room and an appropriate share of any damage in communal areas (unless another tenant accepts responsibility)
- if another tenant moves out you will have no say over who replaces them
- if you wish to move out before the end of your contract, the landlord may agree to release you, but you may have to find a replacement