A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and a landlord.
It lets you live in a property as long as you pay rent and follow the rules. It also sets out the legal terms and conditions of your tenancy. It can be written down or oral (ie a spoken agreement).
A tenancy can either be:
- fixed-term (running for a set period of time)
- periodic (running on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis)
Both you and your landlord have certain rights and responsibilities, whether or not you have a tenancy agreement.
As a tenant, you have the right to:
- live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
- have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends – and in some circumstances have it protected
- challenge excessively high charges
- know who your landlord is
- live in the property undisturbed
- see anEnergy Performance Certificate for the property
- be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
- have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years
If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.
If you do not know who your landlord is, write to the person or company you pay rent to. Your landlord can be fined if they do not give you this information within 21 days.
When you start a new assured or short assured tenancy, your landlord must give you:
- a copy of the How to rent guide if you live in England
- a tenant information pack if you live in Scotland
You must give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access.
You must also:
- take good care of the property, for example turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather
- pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord
- pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example Council Tax or utility bills
- repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends
- only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it
Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you do not meet your responsibilities.