A tenancy agreement is a written or verbal contract between and a landlord and their tenant outlining certain rights and responsibilities that both parties have.
In England, most landlords by law do not have to provide a tenancy agreement to their tenants. However it is beneficial to do so as it ensures that boundaries and expectations are established prior to a tenant moving into the property. The minimum that a tenancy agreement will include are the statutory rights that both parties have.
The rights which are established in the tenancy agreement can be null and void if they contradict a law, as this will always have a higher weighting. For example, if a landlord tries to remove some of the rights given to a tenant by law, and in the event that this happens, these are known as Sham Tenancy Agreements.
If living in a house or flat share, the landlord has to treat all of their tenants the same and cannot discriminate tenants on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, religion or disability.
Off the shelf Tenancy Agreements
Written tenancy agreements
A written tenancy agreement should firstly indicate the type of tenancy and the landlords name and address. Other details that should be included are:
- The start date and duration of the tenancy.
- Details of whether other people are allowed to use the rooms.
- The cost of rent, how frequency it is to be paid and what it includes.
- The length of notice that either the landlord or tenant has to give if either party want the tenancy to end.
The agreement must be signed by both parties and the tenant must receive a copy, even if it is a house share or flat share.
Verbal tenancy agreements
Verbal tenancy agreements should cover the same content as a written agreement; however the problem with oral agreements is that it is very difficult to prove what has been said should a dispute arise.
There are a number of rights that both the landlord and tenant must adhere to by law and these are known as "implied terms", you can read more about these in our tenant and landlord rights sections.
Changing the tenancy agreement
If at any point during the tenancy both parties agree to change the tenancy agreement then if there is a written agreement, the changes should be included into a new agreement and both parties sign it. For verbal agreements, it only has to be discussed and agreed, although once again should disputes arise, they are harder to prove.
More recommended reading
For landlords that would like to know more about tenancy agreements and understanding how to write them and what has to be included, we would recommend the following books: