Signing a Contract

What should I look for in a written rental agreement?

If you have a written agreement, it should set out the rights and responsibilities you have while you're renting, and should list the terms and conditions you and your landlord need to stick to while you're living there.

Read it carefully before you sign it and ask the landlord to clarify anything you're unsure of

Certain rights and obligations will apply regardless of what the agreement says - the landlord's repairing obligations, for example.

Check whether your agreement includes information such as:

  • the name of the tenant(s)
  • the address of the property (or room) you are renting
  • the name and address of the landlord and the letting agent if there is one
  • how much the rent is, when it is due and how it should be paid
  • what the rent covers - does it include any bills, council tax, water rates or other charges?
  • how long the agreement is for
  • whether you have to pay a deposit, and if so, what it covers and what circumstances will mean you don't get it back
  • whether you can leave before the end of the tenancy, and if so, how much notice you have to give
  • what furniture, if any, will be provided
  • who is responsible for getting repairs done (the landlord will always be responsible for external and structural repairs, and safety, regardless of what it says)
  • whether you can sublet
  • whether you can have lodgers
  • whether you can pass the tenancy on to anyone else
  • whether there are any other rules, for example, about pets, guests or smoking.

Many landlords use standard tenancy agreements where these terms are already set out. If your agreement seems unfair or unclear, an adviser in your area may be able to help. Use the Shelter advice services directory to find one, or contact the University of Leicester Legal Advice Clinic  to arrange an appointment. 

For more infomation about Rental Agreements, visit Shelter.org.uk

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