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 don't have an agreed end date until the tenant has given notice. The tenant can't 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
When you sign 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.