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When you find a property to rent, you are required to sign a contract. Your contract is legally binding so before you sign it make sure you’re completely happy with the property.  

Ask yourself a few important questions: 

  • Are you happy with the property and the landlord/letting agent?  

  • Can you afford to pay the rent and any bills? 

  • Are you happy with the people you’re moving in with?  

  • Have you read through and understood the terms of the contract? 

If you have any doubt, seek advice before signing the agreement. Our Advice Service can check your contract for any unfair terms and conditions before you sign it. Good landlords will allow you to have at least 24 hours to read through the contract before you sign. If you would like an Advisor to check your contract, please email a copy to and we’ll endeavour to check it and get it back to you as soon as possible.  

What is a tenancy? 

A tenancy agreement is a legal document containing all the terms and conditions of the tenancy that sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. A tenancy agreement should include: 

  • Address: The correct address of the property or room you’re renting.  

  • Landlord: Full name and address / contact details of the landlord and also the agent if there is one.  

  • Tenants: Name(s) of the tenant(s).  

  • Term: The dates the contract starts and ends. If it’s a fixed term, is there a break clause?  

  • Rent: How much, how and when it should be paid.  

  • Deposit: Amount required, which deposit scheme is being used?  

  • Charges: Only charged permitted by the Tenant Fees act can be charged. See our guide here (link)?  

  • Bills: Are bills included? If so, which bills and is there a fair usage cap?  

  • Guarantors: Does each tenant have to have a guarantor? If it’s a joint contract, is the guarantor’s liability limited to an individual tenant’s share of rent and damages?  

  • Signatures: Landlord (or the landlord’s agent) and tenant(s).  

  • Moving out requirements: Are there requirements you have to undertake before you move out? 

Remember that a contract is legally binding so read it carefully and check that you understand all the clauses. Don’t feel pressured into signing a contract without having the chance to read it properly, a reasonable landlord should give you at least 24 hours to take the tenancy agreement away to check and/or seek advice on before you sign it.  

What kind of tenancy do I have? 

Unless you are living in university owned halls then in most cases you will have a type of tenancy called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.  

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy will usually start by being for a fixed period for example six or twelve months but can be on a weekly or monthly rolling basis referred to as ‘periodic’ tenancy.  

If you have a fixed term tenancy you will normally be liable for the full rent until the end of the fixed term unless your tenancy agreement includes a break clause allowing you to end the tenancy agreement early. The fixed term also means that your landlord cannot evict you during this period without legal reasons and a court ordering you to leave. 

You also need to clarify whether your tenancy agreement is joint or individual as this will also affect your rights (see below).  

Joint Tenancy Agreements  

If you and your housemates are all listed on one tenancy agreement with a landlord, that means you have a joint tenancy.  

  • Tenants are jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent and for any damage to the property. 

  • If a tenant doesn’t pay their share or leaves, the other tenants may be required to pay the outstanding rent amount. 

  • If a tenant wants to move out before the end of the contract, it’s up to all tenants to find a replacement or they’ll have to cover the extra rent.  

  • If a replacement tenant is needed, all existing tenants and the landlord must agree to the new tenant.  

  • In a joint contract, landlords cannot evict one tenant without evicting all of the others. 

  • You will only need to pay for one TV license if you watch live TV.  

Individual Tenancy Agreements  

If each of you signed a separate agreement with the landlord, then you will have individual tenancies. 

  • You are only responsible for paying your own rent. 

  • You will be responsible for paying for any damage within your own room and an appropriate share of any damage in communal areas (unless another tenant accepts responsibility). 

  • If another tenant moves out you may have no say over who replaces them. 

  • If you wish to move out before the end of your contract, the landlord may agree to release you, but you may have to find a replacement. 

  • You’ll need to pay for a separate TV license for each person who watches live TV.  

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