Your tenancy agreement may be written or verbal. Verbal agreements are as legally binding as written ones.
Landlords don't have to provide a written agreement if you're a lodger, rather than a tenant, but it's always a good idea to get a written agreement secured before moving in.
Agreements normally contain: information about the amount of rent; the length of the tenancy; and the rights and obligations of you and your landlord. You should read the agreement carefully before signing it. Check the type of letting, what your repairing obligations are, who is responsible for bills and what happens if you want to leave.
There are different types of tenancy agreement:
- Assured short hold tenancy - This is the most common type of tenancy agreement. It gives you a legal right to live in your accommodation for a period of time. It also offers the landlord a guaranteed right to repossess his property at the end of the tenancy.
- Assured tenancy - Assured tenants have stronger rights than most other private tenants. These types of tenancies are usually granted by Housing Associations or Housing Trusts. They mean that as long as you don't break the terms of the Tenancy Agreement, you can continue to live in the property for an agreed period.
- Regulated/protected tenancy - Regulated tenants have stronger rights against eviction than most other private tenants. A letting of all or part of a house, flat, maisonette, or bungalow made before January 15 1989 is normally a regulated tenancy.
- An assured or shorthold tenancy is the usual form of letting if: you are a private landlord and your tenant is a private tenant; the tenancy began on or after 15 January 1989; the house or flat is let as separate accommodation and is the tenant's main home.
For more information on your rights you can take the agreement to an advice centre. If your landlord or agent has not provided one, you should write a list (sometimes called an inventory) of furniture and any disrepair.
Private rented housing is usually furnished. Whether it is furnished or unfurnished, it does not affect your rights.Try to get your landlord to sign the inventory to prevent later disagreements.
Tenancies for 16 and 17 year-olds
If you're under 18 it can be tricky to get a landlord to grant you a tenancy. Despite legal complications it is possible to get one as long as you have an adult to hold your tenancy in trust until you reach 18. This will make you an 'equitable tenant' and the trustee won't be liable for the rent.
A joint tenancy can be granted if you're living with someone who is over 18 - the older tenant will hold the tenancy in trust. Landlords can uncover any unpaid rent through the courts in the normal manner, although an adult must represent your interests if this happens.
A report by Shelter recommends that housing providers treat 16 and 17 year-olds in the same way as other applicants and that they give young people a clear overview of independent living and tenancy responsibilities.
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!