What should be in a tenancy agreement?

Purpose of a tenancy agreement

If you pay rent to a landlord to live in a property, you automatically have certain rights which cannot be taken away by any verbal or written agreement. Such a tenancy agreement however may add extra rights such as protection against eviction. Instead of a tenancy agreement some tenants only have a license. This gives them the landlord’s personal permission to live in the property but no legal right. In reality the divisions between these two is often blurred which makes it more important to ensure that the tenancy agreement covers everything necessary.

What kind of agreements are there?

Tenancy agreements will vary for private landlords, councils and housing associations. The type of tenancy depends not only on who your landlord is but also the type of housing in question, who the other tenants are and the date on which you moved in to the property.

The majority of people who rent from a private landlord and do not share living space with them have what is called an assured shorthold tenancy. Under the terms of this contract, the landlord may evict you after giving the proper notice and following certain procedures.

Depending on when you moved in, you may even still have an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy. Both these give stronger rights to the tenant as the landlord is required to provide legal reasons for eviction in court.


What form should the tenancy agreement take?

As stated above, if the landlord receives rent from you then you will have certain basic rights so any verbal agreement that you have made counts as a legal agreement. Of course, should there be a dispute then it will be much harder to enforce a verbal agreement than a written one. Ask your landlord or letting agent to put the tenancy agreement in writing for both parties’ sake. A signed written agreement will make sure that both the tenant and landlord understand what their rights and responsibilities are.


What should be included in a written agreement?

It is likely that your landlord will use a standard tenancy agreement with the terms and conditions set out. After reading the agreement carefully, query anything that you are unsure about with the landlord or letting agent before you sign. If you still have questions, you could try an adviser in your area.


The agreement should include:

  • The names of the tenant or tenants

  • The address of the property (or room within a property)

  • The name and address of the landlord

  • The name and address of the letting agent if there is one

  • The length of the agreement

  • The amount of rent, when it is due and how it may be paid

  • What the rent includes – bills, council tax, water rates etc

  • Information on paying the deposit and how it will be returned at the end of the tenancy

  • The length of notice if the tenant wants to leave before the end of the tenancy

  • Information on the furniture provided, if any

  • Who is responsible for paying for repairs other than structural and external repairs, and safety, which the landlord must cover

  • If the tenant is allowed to sublet

  • If the tenant may take in a lodger

  • If the tenant can pass on the tenancy to anyone else

  • Any additions such as rules on pets, smoking, house guests or noise levels.