You've found a rental property that is perfect for your needs and are looking to make it yours, now it’s time to get an agreement in place with the landlord. The tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. It may be written or oral. The tenancy agreement gives certain rights to both you and your landlord, for example, your right to occupy the accommodation and your landlord’s right to receive rent for letting the accommodation.
A tenancy agreement can be made up of:
- express terms. These include what is in the written tenancy agreement, if there is one, in the rent book, and/or what was agreed orally
- implied terms. These are rights given by law or arrangements established by custom and practice.
The tenancy agreement should be signed by both you and your landlord. Each tenant, if there are joint tenants, should receive a copy of the agreement. Your landlord is obliged by law to give you their name and address, regardless of whether or not you have a written tenancy agreement. It is good practice for a written tenancy agreement to include the following details:
- your name and your landlord’s name and the address of the property which is being let
- the date the tenancy began
- details of whether other people are allowed the use of the property, and if so, which rooms
- the duration of the tenancy, that is, whether it runs out on a certain date
- the amount of rent payable, how often and when it should be paid and how often and when it can be increased. The agreement could also state what the payment includes, for example, council tax or fuel
- whether your landlord will provide any services, for example, laundry, maintenance of common parts or meals and whether there are service charges for these
- the length of notice which you and your landlord need to give if the tenancy is to be ended. Note that there are statutory rules about how much notice should be given and these will depend on the type of tenancy and why it is due to end.
- The agreement may also contain details of your landlord’s obligations to repair the property, although it is rare for agreements to go into details. Your landlord’s obligations to repair depend on the type of tenancy.
Oral tenancy agreements:
A tenancy agreement exists even if there is only an oral agreement between you and your landlord. For example, you and your landlord may have agreed at the start of the tenancy how much the rent would be and when it is payable, whether it includes fuel and bills such as water rates or whether your landlord can decide who else can live in the accommodation.
Oral agreements can be difficult to enforce because there is often no proof of what has been agreed, or a particular problem may have arisen which the agreement did not cover. It’s always best to get the agreement signed by everyone in writing.
Implied terms of tenancy agreements:
There are obligations you and your landlord have which may not be set down in the agreement but which are given by law and are implied into all tenancy agreements. These terms form part of the contract, even though they have not been specifically agreed between your landlord and you.
- your landlord must carry out basic repairs, for example, keeping the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water in good working order
- you have the right to live peacefully in the accommodation without nuisance from your landlord
- you have an obligation to use your home in a 'tenant-like' way, for example, by not causing damage and by using any fixtures and fittings properly
- you have an obligation to provide access for any repair work that needs to be done.