Leases and Tenancy Agreements

Understand what to expect from the tenancy agreement when renting property in the United Kingdom...

Tenancy agreements (leases) can be written or verbal, however, even if renting the property privately tenants should ensure they have a written contract (tenancy agreement), which is a legally binding document.

Written tenancy agreements should include the following:

  • Landlord's name
  • Address of the rental property
  • Date the agreement begins
  • Term of the tenancy (how long it will last)
  • Details of any change of conditions to cover pets such as having carpets cleaned when leaving
  • Responsibilities of the tenant. E.G Lawn-mowing
  • Details of other people who may use the property
  • Rent amount and due date (weekly, fortnightly or monthly)
  • Terms of rental increase
  • Services provided (such as maintenance of communal areas) and service charges if applicable
  • Length of notice to quit, although statutory rules apply depending on the type of rental agreement
  • For further information on tenancy agreements, see the Citizens Advice Bureau website

In addition to the tenancy agreement there may also be an inventory of furnishings if any, and a room-by-room checklist of decorative state, cleanliness and any existing damage. This will have to be signed by the tenant and returned to the agent so it’s important to double check everything listed and make a note if there is any additional damage or anything missing from the account. When the tenant has signed the condition report they are expected to return the property in the same condition, apart from reasonable wear and tear.

Most residential agreements are Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), which means that the tenant has the right to stay in the property for six months before the landlord can ask them to leave. This agreement is used across the UK, and is the standard agreement unless otherwise negotiated between tenant and landlord. It stipulates that after six months the landlord or the tenant may give leave, with two months' notice. This is known as the "break clause". The terms of the contract can be any length of time, but if more than three years, it must be drawn up by deed. At the end of the term the contract can be renewed, although the landlord has the right to take back their property.

For further information on the AST see the following websites:

Agreements may also be Assured Tenancies, usually issued by a housing association or trust.

Tenancy agreements cannot override the law, and the points of a tenancy agreement that contradict a tenant's statutory rights are invalid.

Renting a Room

If the landlord and tenant live in the same building, this is known as a resident landlord letting. Resident tenants can be given less notice than those with AST or Assured Tenancies, and do not have the option to challenge the agreed level of rent.

Short Term Rentals

Short term lets of six months to a year are less common but can be found. Not all rental agencies offer this service. When renting a property on a short term basis, council tax and utility bills are usually included in the rent. Occasionally the rental price includes Internet but this is rare.