Tenancy Agreements and Other Legalities
Good afternoon, everyone. I’m here to give you a talk on tenancy agreements and other legalities. If you rent a flat or a house, or bedsit, you will have a ‘tenancy agreement’ or ‘lease’. This is a Q11 written legal agreement between you, the tenant, and the property owner, the landlord. The tenancy agreements should normally contain information about the amount of rent, the length of the tenancy and what rights you and your landlord will have under the law.
In most cases, you will have an ‘assured short-hold tenancy’ which means that your landlord cannot ask you to leave without a good reason during the Q12 first six months. Although these rights offer you some protection, it is still your responsibility to check the tenancy agreement thoroughly and make sure you agree with the terms. Do not sign the tenancy agreement if you do not know what all of it means. If you do not fully understand your rights, show your tenancy agreement to an advisor in the accommodation office or student welfare office at your university or college and ask for help. You can also get help from a housing advice centre, law centre or citizens advice Bureau. When you do sign the tenancy agreement, make sure you get a Q13 copy to keep for yourself, in case you need to check any details later on. The landlord may also, ask you to sign Q14 an inventory: a list of all the items in the property – pieces of furniture, kitchen items, etc. If so, make sure you get a copy of this as well. Check that it is correct and that any existing damage to these items is included before signing it. If your landlord does not provide an inventory, you should make one yourself and send a copy to the landlord.
Let’s take a look at payments. Q15 Before you move into private accommodation, you will probably be asked to pay a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent. Make sure you get a receipt for any deposits or fees you have paid. Q16 When you leave the accommodation, if you have paid all your bills and caused no damage to the property, your full deposit will be paid back to you. If you are renting through an accommodation agency, you may also be asked to pay fees for preparing tenancy agreements and administration. You should also keep a written record of all the rent payments that you make, as you make them. If you have a dispute with your landlord, or you get behind with your rent, you should get advice as soon as possible. Remember that if you live in the same building as your landlord, or you have a room in a student or youth hostel or university/college accommodation, then this will affect how secure your tenancy will be. If you do not share any living space with the landlord or a member of their family, apart from means of access like an entrance hall or a staircase, or are a student living in halls of residence, or any other type of accommodation where an educational institution is the landlord, you will have basic protection from eviction. Q18 Your landlord will have to end your tenancy first, either by waiting for the end of the fixed term you agreed for the tenancy or Q19 by giving you at least four weeks’ written notice in writing to quit or Q20 through getting a court order before you have to leave. If you share living space – for example, a kitchen, living room or bathroom – with your landlord or are in a student or youth hostel, you will be what is termed an excluded tenant, which means that you are outside the protection of the UK law which regulates tenancies and will not have security of tenure. All the landlord has to do to evict you is to give you notice, although they must give you a reasonable amount of time in which to leave.
If you have problems with accommodation, contact the accommodation office or students’ union at your university or college. If you need specialist or legal help, contact a law centre in your local Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to tell you your rights as a tenant and the rights of your landlord.