Contracts/Tenancy Agreement

Understanding your contracts/tenancy agreements 

Contracts can be slightly worrying at first glance, however most of those signed for student tenancy needs are pretty similar. 

It is generally important to remember that you are not pressured into signing a contract or tenancy agreement and do not hand over any money unless you are completely comfortable.

There are a range of contract types which are:

Assured Shorthold
Usually all contracts signed automatically become one of these, unless the landlord gives you a special notice. The main difference between an Assured Shorthold and an Assured Tenancy, is that the landlord gets an additional right of possession which the courts must enforce if the landlord wants you to leave. As such you should make sure that any contract you sign covers the full period of the time you want to stay in the property.
Legally Binding
Your contract is legally binding and usually a minimum year-long commitment! You cannot change your mind half-way through the year because you find a better property or other friends. The only times you can leave a contract are:


- There is a clause which states so


- The owner/agent agrees to release you


- You find a replacement for your room


- You are evicted
No written contract/tenancy
Although you may not have a written contract it does not mean that you do not have a tenancy. If your tenancy commenced on or after the 28 February 1997, it is almost certain that you will have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. The problem in not having a written tenancy agreement is that it can be difficult to prove what was originally agreed when you entered into the tenancy. You can make a written request to the landlord for a statement of basic terms which include; the date on which the tenancy began, the rent and dates for payment, and the length of the contract. If the landlord fails to comply with this request within 28 days, they are committing a criminal offence as stated within the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
Individual or Joint Tenancy
As you will be likely signing as a group there is a lot to consider here. It is more than likely you will have a joint tenancy in which the law treats you as one entity. This means that if one of the group leaves or does not pay their rent the landlord can oppose liability on you, however the benefit of this is that you can choose the individual to re-let to room to, whereas with an individual tenancy the landlord can place anyone in the property. In an individual tenancy the roles are reversed, you are not liable for other rents but anyone can be placed in the house.


For more information about contracts and tenancy agreements, please see the drop downs below:

Signing the contract
After inspecting the property you should read your prospective contract. DSU Advice offer a contract checking service, of which you can book an appointment here. Do not sign anything you are unsure of, and ensure any repairs needed are confirmed, in writing, to be fixed before the tenancy begins.
Letting and contract charges

From 1 June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge to tenants for new contracts are: 

- a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than 1 week's rent

- payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant

Unfair Terms
Since 1995 there are now terms which can be deemed ‘unfair’ if it imposes too much burden on the tenants, such as holding the condition of the property on the tenants and making all individuals liable if there is vandalism in a block of which no one can be proven to have done it.