Renting a home
By Joe Elvin
Tenancy agreements can be complicated, but they exist to protect your rights - so it's important to know what you're signing. Here are the important things to look out for.
The tenancy agreement is one of the most important documents you'll sign during the renting process. However, it's rare for people to take enough time to check this contract.
The following checklist will help ensure you know what to look out for.
Letting agreement checklist
The following pieces of information should be in an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement. If you can’t find them, make sure you have the agreement checked by a legal specialist in lettings.
- Details of the parties involved Includes the contact details of the landlord/tenant and anyone else involved in the let, such as a letting agent and/or guarantor.
- Date of the contract This is normally the start date of the tenancy.
- Data protection Ensures a tenant’s details can be shared only with parties relevant to the let, for example, an inventory clerk or utility company.
- The property Refers to the fixtures and fittings within the property (such as kitchen or a fireplace) and the outside space, and normally includes items recorded in the inventory.
- The deposit This is an essential clause that should detail how much deposit the landlord/agent will take and which tenancy deposit protection scheme is used to protect your deposit should there be a dispute.
- The rent This records how much the rent will be, when it’s due and how it is to be paid, for example, by standing order. It should also state what happens if you default on the rent, and how the rent can be increased during your stay.
- Possession and notices These clauses set out the notice you have to give the landlord/agent if you want to leave the property, and how the landlord can regain possession of their property.
- Tenant’s obligations This sets out everything a tenant should - or shouldn’t - do while renting the property. This will include things like keeping it in good order and notifying the landlord/agent if there is a problem, such as a leak. They can be quite extensive so make sure you read them very carefully and understand each one.
- Fair wear and tear This explains that some parts of the property may naturally deteriorate with age, such as carpets, and that the tenant should not be liable for this.
- Signatures This is where you and the landlord (or letting agent) sign the agreement, which makes it binding.
- Last updated: July 2016
- Updated by: Stephen Maunder