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A Guide to Tenancy Agreements in the UK

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We review what tenancy agreements are and what they should include.

Renting private property is a popular choice for those living in the UK, as it can be difficult for many to get on the property ladder themselves. Tenancy agreements are an essential part of the rental process, and both landlords and tenants need to have a proper understanding of them.

What is a tenancy agreement?

In basic terms, a tenancy agreement is a legal contract between the landlord and tenant that lays out the terms and conditions to which each of you must adhere for the duration of the tenancy. Agreements are generally put in place before the property is let.

Tenancy agreements can be oral; however, it is best to use written ones. When agreements are oral there is no proof of the agreed terms, so it can become problematic if there is a dispute.

Types of tenancy agreements

There are three different kinds of tenancy agreements. Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) are the most common when renting private residential properties. The second most common are assured tenancies, which are used for properties let by housing associations or by a housing trust.

The third type are regulated or protected tenancies. These only exist on lettings that began before 15 January 1989, and offer the highest level of protection against eviction or rent increases.

All three types of tenancy agreement set out the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant, and ensure that they are entitled to their statutory rights.

What information is included in a tenancy agreement?

Tenancy agreements generally include:

  • the address of the property
  • the landlord’s name and personal details
  • the tenant’s name and personal details
  • the name and address of the letting agent
  • the amount of any deposit held by the landlord and what it covers
  • the rent amount and the method and frequency of payment
  • the start date and term of the tenancy
  • rules regarding pets and smoking
  • repair responsibilities
  • whether subletting is permitted
  • any other commitments or obligations.

Both the landlord and the tenant must be present to sign the tenancy agreement. As the agreement is a legal contract, there can be consequences if either side breaks any part of it.

Changing or ending a tenancy agreements

If either party wishes to change the agreement after it has been signed, they must inform the other party and arrange for the document to be amended. The most common changes occur when a new or additional tenant moves into the property, when all parties must agree to the changes and sign the new document.

Tenancy agreements usually include procedures for ending the tenancy as well. Either party may end the agreement provided they follow these procedures. For instance, there is generally an agreed notice period and specific instructions on how notice must be given to the other party.