What To Check Before Signing Your Tenancy Agreement
We understand that finding your next student property can be stressful. Never enter a legally binding contract before you have read and understood it fully.
If you are choosing to find a property through a letting agent or private landlord, you need to make sure that the tenancy agreement information is all correct. Take a look at the information below:
Types of Tenancy Agreements:
The majority of student lets will involve an assured shorthold tenancy agreement for a fixed term of 11/12 months. This will depend on the individual landlord.
There are two types of tenancy agreements that a landlord may offer:
There will be one tenancy agreement which each person in the property signs. You are all jointly responsible for the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. If someone you live with doesn’t pay their share of the rent, the rest of you are responsible for making up the shortfall.
Each individual in the property will have their own tenancy agreement. You will only be responsible for your own rent.
Reading the Small Print:
Tenancy agreements are long and can seem boring, however, it is important that you read it carefully to ensure that all the information is correct. You will need to check:
- The start and end date of the tenancy
- Make sure every tenants name and the landlords name/names are on the contract
- Check the rental amount
- Check your obligations
- If bills are included in your rent, make sure which bills you are and are not responsible for paying
If you are unsure about something written in the contract, do not be afraid to question your landlord or letting agent.
Assured shorthold tenancy agreements are subject to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. Any clauses which can be deemed unfair will be unenforceable. For more information on this, please click here.
If your landlord has agreed to purchase or repair something, make sure that you have this in writing (email).
By law, if you have an assured shorthold tenancy, all deposits taken must be registered by a government-backed deposit protection scheme. Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in the scheme within 30 days of receiving it. The three approved schemes in the UK are:
- Deposit Protection Service
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Your landlord/agent should give you prescribed information when the deposit has been protected. This will provide information about the protection scheme they have used plus information about the deposit and the tenancy. Failing to do this, your landlord is breaking the law and you may be entitled to compensation.
There is a stigma around deposits and landlords keeping as much as they can. If any disputes arise at the end of the tenancy, all schemes offer a free dispute service.
Check out our previous article on tips on how to get your deposit back.
The majority of agents or private landlords will require you to have a guarantor. This is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you fail to do so and it is normally a close relative or friend. If your guarantor then fails to pay the rent, your landlord will be able to take them to court.
Guarantors will also need to sign the tenancy agreement. You will need to ensure that their information is correct.
Since 1st June 2019, tenant fees are banned in England, Scotland and Wales.
From 1st June 2020, all tenancy agreements will be free from tenancy fees, even if they were signed before 1st June 2019.
For more information on this, please take a look at our recent article – Understanding the Tenant Fees Act 2019.