If you're about to rent a home from a private landlord, you should first sign the tenancy agreement.
This is a document that lays out the terms of your tenancy and a set of rules that both you and your landlord should follow.
Your landlord must give you a tenancy agreement by law.
When you sign a tenancy agreement, check it to make sure:
- it's for the address you're moving into
- your landlord's contact details (or their letting agent's) are included
- the rent in the agreement is correct, and whether you're expected to pay it monthly or weekly
- it gives the reasons your landlord can take money off your deposit
- it says what type of tenancy it is
- if it's a renewal of a short assured or assured tenancy, that the length of the lease is what you agreed – normally 6 or 12 months
If the tenancy is a private residential tenancy there'll be no specified lease length. Private residential tenancies are open-ended and will last until either the tenant gives notice that they wish to leave the let property, or the landlord has grounds for eviction. The tenant cannot give notice until after the tenancy has begun.
A tenancy agreement could also give information on:
- whether the rent covers services (gas or electricity) and who's responsible for paying council tax (usually you)
- the date the rent should be paid, and how it should be paid (such as cheque or direct debit)
- the amount of deposit to be paid and in what circumstances it won't be returned
- who should be responsible for repairing and decorating the property
- whether any furniture is provided
- how much notice you or your landlord have to give to end the lease
- whether lodgers or subletting are allowed
- any other terms, like whether you have to look after a garden, or whether you're allowed to keep a pet
Private residential tenancies
if you're signing a new tenancy agreement your tenancy agreement, you should be told that you're signing up to a 'private residential tenancy'.
You may hear about other types of tenancy, like assured, short assured or regulated. These stopped at the end of 2017 – all new tenancies are private residential ones.