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What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and a tenant specifying the terms and conditions of their rental agreement. Tenancy agreements are usually put in place before letting out property.

There are three types of tenancy agreement used by landlords and tenants:

  • Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

    This is the most common type of tenancy agreement used when renting private residential properties. Most lettings which began after 28 February 1997 are likely to have an AST in place. For more information see Introduction to Assured Shorthold Tenancies.tenancy agreement pack blue

  • Assured Tenancy

    This type of tenancy agreement is used for properties let by a housing association or by a housing trust. The tenant has a higher level of security with this form of tenancy, as it allows them to remain in the property as long as they comply with the terms of the agreement.

  • Regulated or ‘Protected’ Tenancy

    If a letting began before 15 January 1989, this type of tenancy agreement may be in place. A regulated tenancy offers the tenant the highest level of protection against eviction and increased rent.

All three types of tenancy agreement set out the rights and responsibilities the landlord and the tenant have to each other and the property. Tenancy agreements ensure landlords and tenants are entitled to their statutory rights.

Tenancy agreements can be either written or oral. However, there are pitfalls to be aware of when using an oral tenancy agreement. If an oral tenancy agreement is used, in the case of a dispute there is no proof of the terms agreed at the start of the tenancy, and this can lead to problems.

All tenancy agreements should state the parties involved, the rental price, any deposit retained by the landlord, the property address, the start and end date of the tenancy, and the obligations of the tenant and the landlord.

It is important that both parties are fully aware of what is included in the agreement. Standard information that should be in all residential tenancy agreements includes:

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  • All parties involved (this includes the guarantor if there is one).
  • Address of the property (or room) being rented.
  • Start and end date of the tenancy.
  • Name and address of landlord.
  • Name and address of any letting agent.
  • Amount of rent to be paid and the date it should be paid.
  • Method of payment.
  • Any additional charges.
  • Whether a deposit must be paid, what it covers and the amount paid.
  • Whether the tenancy can be ended early by the landlord or tenant and if so how much notice must be given.
  • Who is responsible for minor repairs.
  • Whether a tenant is allowed to sublet.
  • Whether a tenant can have lodgers.
  • Whether the tenancy may be passed on to anyone else.
  • Rules regarding pets, smoking etc.

A tenancy agreement is read and signed by both the landlord and tenant, and the tenant is entitled to receive a copy of the agreement. Landlords should provide the tenant with sufficient time to read the agreement and raise any questions they have before signing and agreeing to the terms. The landlord is also required to provide the tenant with their full name and address.

All tenancy agreements must comply with statutory law. This is law that has been passed in parliament and is therefore legally binding and enforceable regardless of what is stated in the tenancy agreement. With all tenancy agreements there are rights by law for both landlord and tenant; even though these may not have been discussed between both parties, they apply to all tenancy agreements.

The following are the basic rights that a tenant will have in any Assured Shorthold Tenancy:

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