First of all, never sign a tenancy agreement without reading through it all. Remember it is a legally binding document! Here are the things you should pay particular attention to.

1. Your agreement shall include the following information:

  • the name of the tenant(s)
  • the address of the property you are renting
  • the name and address of the landlord and the letting agent
  • the rent amount, when it is due, how it should be paid and whether it includes any bills, council tax, water rates or other charges
  • how long the agreement is for
  • whether you have to pay a deposit, and if so, what it covers, what circumstances will mean you don’t get it back, and which deposit protection scheme your landlord uses (read more about deposits here)
  • rules on ending your tenancy.

2. Check what type of contract it is. Most people renting from a private landlord have an assured shorthold tenancy. This type of tenancy means the landlord can only evict you by giving proper notice and following the correct eviction process. If you share a property with another tenants you may have a joint tenancy agreement which holds all the tenants responsible for the property and collective rent payments. However, it is advisable to sign an individual contract between each tenant and the landlord. In this case, if another tenant leaves the property, you won’t be liable to cover for him/her.

3. Inventory. Certain amount of money may be deducted from your deposit at the end of your tenancy as a charge for damaging the property. In order to ensure the swiftest possible return of your deposit, it is essential to keep accurate and comprehensive records of the condition of the property both at the beginning and at the end of the agreement. An inventory should help with this. If not provided, do your own inventory on the day the tenancy starts, ideally with the landlord who should also sign and date the document. You should both have a copy.

Finally, there are certain obligation you and your landlord have which are implied into all tenancy agreements and may be not specifically mentioned. Some of the most common implied terms are:

  • your landlord must carry out basic repairs, for example, keeping the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water in good working order
  • you have the right to live peacefully in the accommodation without nuisance from your landlord
  • you have an obligation to use your home in a ‘tenant-like’ way, for example, by not causing damage and by using any fixtures and fittings properly
  • you have an obligation to provide access for any repair work that needs to be done.

Your agreement should be written in a language you can understand. If you think your tenancy agreement is unfair talk to an adviser. Remember that unfair contract terms are not legally binding.