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Tenancy agreements: what to look out for

From negotiating an offer to getting back a full deposit and everything in between, there’s much to consider when renting a property in the UK. Underpinning all this is the tenancy agreement: a contract between you and a landlord. 

Tenancy agreements: what to look out for

From negotiating an offer to getting back a full deposit and everything in between, there’s much to consider when renting a property in the UK. Underpinning all this is the tenancy agreement: a contract between you and a landlord. 

Two things are clear about your tenancy agreement: it lets you live in the property provided you pay rent, and it sets out the legal terms and conditions of your tenancy. But these rules and regulations are notoriously laden with fiddly clauses and confusing terminology – so take the time to understand your agreement.

Types of tenancy agreement 

A tenancy agreement can either be:

  • fixed-term (running for a set period)
  • periodic (running on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis)

What should a tenancy agreement include?

According to the UK government, a tenancy agreement should include:

  • the names of all people involved
  • the rental price and how it’s paid
  • information on how and when the rent will be reviewed
  • the deposit amount and how it will be protected
  • details of when the deposit can be fully or partly withheld (for example to repair damage you’ve caused)
  • the property address
  • the start and end date of the tenancy
  • any tenant or landlord obligations
  • an outline of bills you’re responsible for
 

 

Scrutinise your tenancy agreement

The UK government provides a template for letting agents and landlords to use when drawing up a tenancy agreement; however, they are not obliged to follow this, meaning every agreement is different. In fact, they don’t even have to be written down to be legally recognised; sometimes people simply make an oral (spoken) agreement. 

Avoid any nasty surprises further down the line by checking the fine print before you sign, including the start and end date of your tenancy, your obligations, and any agreed repairs you want completed before you move in. 

Devolved legislation

Be aware that legislation governing landlords and renting varies across the UK. For example, in England and Wales, landlords are legally obliged to secure your deposit in one of three government-approved deposit protection schemes: the Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. However, separate deposit protection schemes exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Making changes

If you have reservations about the terms of your tenancy agreement, request clarification from your letting agent or landlord. Both you and your landlord must agree to any changes to the terms of the tenancy agreement. If you feel you need independent guidance, Citizens Advice offers helpful free online information about tenancy agreements.

Giving notice

A commonly overlooked clause is the notice period. Be aware that you will still be liable to pay rent for the entirety of your fixed-term tenancy unless your landlord agrees to end the tenancy early or there’s a break clause in your agreement. 

Remember: take your time

Finding your ideal home to rent in London takes time and patience. Once you have identified your perfect property, don’t expose yourself to complications in the future by glancing at the tenancy agreement in your rush to get the keys. Diligently review your contract before signing on the dotted line.

Download the guide to Renting in London!

 
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