Tenancy Agreement

What it does and how it works

Prescribed information

Landlords are legally obliged to provide tenants with certain information about their tenancy in writing. The key terms of the tenancy are included in the Prescribed Information which must be provided within 30 days of the landlord receiving the deposit. This includes the amount of the deposit, the address of the property, the name and contact details of the administrator of the tenancy deposit scheme and the details of the landlord and tenant (and anyone else who is a party to the contract).

Deposit

In addition to the deposit references in the Prescribed Information, the landlord must include a leaflet supplied by the deposit scheme administrator, and outline the procedures that apply in terms of repayment of the deposit at the end of the tenancy, how deductions will be made and what happens in the event of a dispute.

Break clause

Assured shorthold tenancy agreements are normally for a fixed period of 12, 24 or 36 months. But the landlord and tenant may agree to end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term, by using a break clause. This enables either party to terminate the contract at their discretion with an agreed period of notice, or at specific points within the tenancy.

Tenants’ obligation

This section outlines the key contractual requirements placed on the tenant during the term of the tenancy. The key obligations include paying rent, how an individual tenant can be replaced, how the property is to be used and how the tenant should look after the property. The tenant is not normally required to insure the property itself, but must make sure he or she does not invalidate the landlord's insurance. Contents insurance is the responsibility of the tenant.

Landlord’s obligation

The landlord is obliged to allow the tenant to use the property without unlawful interruption as well as being required to maintain, repair and insure the building. The landlord must also comply with safety regulations including gas and electrical safety tests, and make sure that they have all the necessary licences and consents.

Special Conditions

Care should be taken when considering adapting the standard form of the tenancy. By default, most tenancy agreements don’t allow pets to be accommodated or allow smoking inside the building. Some landlords may consider permitting these and other non-standard provisions, requiring the tenancy agreement to be amended either within the contract itself or by reference to a separate schedule outlining the variance to the standard terms.

Top Tips

For Landlords...

It is essential that the tenancy deposit is registered with a recognised scheme before the tenancy begins. The penalties for not doing so are severe – up to 3 times the value of the deposit.

Landlords also need to make sure that they carry out "right to rent" checks, which verify that a tenant has the legal right to live in the UK.

To do this, private landlords need to check and make a copy of an original copy of the passport or permanent residence card. Unlike many of the steps in the rental process, the right-to-rent checks must be carried out face to face with all prospective occupiers.

For Tenants...

Once your landlord is happy with your referencing checks, you'll need to pay your holding deposit. Find out more about renting from a private landlord.

You can view our template tenancy agreement here.