It’s very important to get your tenancy agreement in writing
This sets out the rights and responsibilities for you and your landlord. Be certain that you understand and agree with all of the contract terms before you sign. Once you have signed, you’ll usually be bound by the terms of the agreement, unless the specific contract term is unlawful.
If you have found accommodation, the SU advice team offer a contract checking service to see if it looks correct. If you want to use this service get in touch with us, allowing at least 5 working days for us to reply.
Types of contract
There are 2 main types of accommodation contracts for students:
- Assured shorthold tenancy agreements, commonly known as ASTs. You’ll have an AST if you rent private accommodation from a private landlord or privately-owned student accommodation.
- License agreements. You’ll have a license agreement if you rent a room in University Halls or you live with your landlord as their lodger.
If you’re not sure what type of contract you have, contact the SU Advice Service or you can check on the Shelter tenancy checker.
What should my contract include?
At the minimum, your contract should include the following information:
- Your name (s), the landlord’s name and address, or agent’s if they are managing the property
- The full postal address of the property
- The start and end date of the tenancy
- The amount of rent and deposit payable
- Confirmation of responsibility for any bills
- Confirmation of Landlord’s responsibility to carry out essential repairs
- Notice required to bring the tenancy to an end
What rights do I have with an AST?
This means your right to make use of your home without disturbance from the landlord or anyone acting on their behalf. This is a legal requirement, so no tenancy agreement can breach this even if you have signed it as it would not be lawful. This right means that your landlord is not permitted to enter the property if you withhold permission (although it's not advisable to withhold permission for checks/inspections etc as long as they are 'reasonable'). It has nothing to do with actual noise!
Exclusive possession of the property
This means your landlord cannot enter the property unless they have your permission and given 24 hours prior written notice. If they have given less than 24 hours notice, or have not given notice in the right way, or you think that the landlord is not being reasonable (for instance, inspections every week would not be reasonable), you do not need to let the landlord in and they should not enter if you say no. Additionally, no-one should enter your property when you are not there if you didn't agree to it (eg the landlord coming in when you are out or they think you are out). This is illegal and if you suspect it has happened you should let the landlord know or contact us for guidance.
Protection from eviction
Your landlord would need a court order to evict you, which takes time to obtain. The court order has to be enforced by licenced bailiffs (not the landlord and his mates).
Protection of your security deposit
Your landlord has to protect your security deposit in one of the government tenancy deposit protection schemes and provide you with prescribed information within 30 days. Failure to do this (and to provide evidence for it) may mean the landlord is in breach of the law and could make you eligible for a partial rent repayment.
Your landlord is responsible for any essential repairs and upkeep, but this does not include damages that you cause.
What are my main obligations if I have an AST?
- Paying the rent on time
- Notifying the landlord of extended times away
- Reporting repairs to the landlord in writing
- Keeping the property clean and tidy
- Not causing any damage or nuisance
If you’re a joint tenant, you’ll have joint responsibility for these obligations. This is sometimes described in the contract as “joint and several liability”. For example, if one of your housemates doesn’t pay their share of the rent, you can be held liable for their unpaid rent.
What rights do I have if I have a license agreement?
- You won’t have as many rights if you have a license agreement.
- You won’t have exclusive possession. Your landlord could enter your room without notice or your permission.
- If you pay a security deposit, this does not need to be protected.
- Your landlord can ask you to leave with “reasonable notice” and they don’t need a court order to evict you.
What are my main obligations?
- You’ll need to pay your rent and follow any agreed household rules.