Tenancy agreements

What is a tenancy agreement?

Most private renters have a tenancy agreement. It is a contract between a landlord and a tenant which allows the tenant to live in a property as long as they pay rent and meet the terms detailed in the agreement.

Tenancy agreements can be written or verbal, but a written agreement is always preferable as it records what has been agreed in case of any dispute in the future. If you are not sure of any of the terms in your tenancy agreement you should get advice before signing anything.

Types of tenancy agreements

There are different types of tenancy agreements, and they give you different rights. 

Some tenancies can run for a set period of time, normally for at least six months. These are known as fixed-term tenancy agreements. Other tenancies are periodic, running on a week by week or month by month basis. 

The most common form of tenancy agreement for private renters is an assured shorthold tenancy. You are likely to be an assured shorthold tenant if:

  • your landlord is a private landlord
  • the tenancy began on or after 28th February 1997
  • the house or flat is let as separate accommodation and is your main home

Your rights and responsibilities as a tenant

As a tenant, you have the right to:

  • live in a property that's safe and in a good state of repair
  • live in the property undisturbed
  • be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
  • have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends
  • challenge excessively high charges
  • know who your landlord is
  • see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years

As a tenant you must:

  • take good care of the property
  • pay the agreed rent
  • pay any other charges as agreed with the landlord, ie Council Tax
  • give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs (unless it's an emergency your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours' notice)

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Page last updated: 05 October 2022

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