A tenancy agreement, also called a short assured tenancy, residential tenancy agreement, assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST agreement), private residential tenancy or a lease is a contract between a tenant and a landlord.
What is a tenancy agreement?
Why do I need a tenancy agreement?
It is important to have an agreement in place between a landlord and a tenant in order to lay out all the rights and responsibilities of each party during the rental agreement. These straightforward tenancy agreements will help you avoid all the hassles of letting and make repossession simple.
Use this tenancy agreement form if you are letting a house, flat, or room. Answer a few simple questions to create your free tenancy agreement.
Which type of tenancy agreement should I choose?
There are many different lettings documents so you'll need to make sure you choose the right one for your particular situation from the list above.
A tenancy agreement can be used both for a flat or a house. It is the most common type of agreement in England, Wales and Scotland and gives the tenant the exclusive right to use and occupy a house or flat for a certain period of time. These tenancy agreements should not be used for properties outside of England, Wales or Scotland.
If you are renting out a spare room in your home, a lodger agreement can be used.
A room rental agreement is used when you want to rent out several rooms to multiple occupants at the same time.
What is the difference between renting out a room and renting out a room in your home?
When you are renting out a room, you are renting out a room in a property you own but do not live in. Under a room rental agreement the owner will not live at the property and the occupier has the right to use a bedroom at the property and the right to use other rooms along with other occupants.
When you are renting out a room in your own home, you will be granting a lodger the right to use a spare room in the property you live in. Under a lodger agreement the owner will live at the property and the lodger is given use of a bedroom and has the right with the owner to use other areas in the property such as a bathroom, kitchen and garden.
What should be in a tenancy agreement?
Rocket Lawyer’s tenancy agreement templates, for renting either a flat or house include:
the term of the tenancy
monthly rent payments
optional break clause
end of the tenancy
the requirements under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 and the Tenant Fees Act 2019 (for England and Wales only)
What are the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant?
Both landlords and tenants have obligations under the tenancy agreement, including obligations that are not expressly mentioned in the tenancy agreement but will be implied by law. The Housing Act 1988 is the statute that governs the laws between landlords and tenants.
Examples of landlord obligations and responsibilities:
carry out basic repairs
ensure relevant health and safety checks are conducted (eg gas safety checks, provide smoke alarms and make sure wiring and electrical appliances are safe)
if you need to inspect the property you must give the tenant sufficient notice, usually 24 hours
you cannot unnecessarily interfere (eg you should not let yourself into the property without the permission of the tenant or make it uncomfortable for the tenant to live in the property)
Examples of tenant obligations and responsibilities:
you should keep the property in good condition
pay the rent and utility bills
do not damage the property and make sure any guests you have are well behaved
do not sublet the property
allow the landlord to carry out inspections of the property
What is a guarantor on a tenancy agreement?
A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay the tenant’s rent if the tenant does not pay. The guarantor will be legally liable in cases where tenants fail to pay their rent.
If you are using a guarantor clause in your tenancy agreement you should check their ability to pay rent in the event the tenant does not (eg by carrying out a credit check).
How long does a tenancy last?
An AST agreement (for England and Wales) should be for a minimum of 6 months, however, it can last for any period of time, as agreed by the landlord and tenant.
A private residential tenancy (for Scotland) is open-ended and will last until the tenant wishes to leave the property or until the landlord relies on one or more of the 18 grounds for eviction.
When is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement not suitable?
You should not use an AST agreement when:
no rent is payable on the property
rent exceeds £100,000 per year
the property is a holiday home or let to a private limited company
the property is owned by the Government or the Crown
you are renting property in Scotland
What is the difference between an assured shorthold tenancy and assured tenancy?
Under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement the landlord has the automatic right to regain possession any time after the fixed term of the tenancy agreement has expired. The landlord does not have to give any reason for regaining possession of the property but must give tenants two months notice.
The landlord does not have this right under an assured tenancy agreement because the tenant has security of tenure. Under the Housing Act 1996 a tenancy agreement is automatically an assured shorthold tenancy unless an assured tenancy is specifically created.
Do I need a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence?
A HMO is a property rented to three or more tenants who are not related (eg a house share). You will need to check whether or not your property is classed as a house in multiple occupation, and if it is you may need to apply for a licence to avoid being fined.
In England, Wales and Scotland, you need a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO. A property constitutes a large HMO when the property is:
rented to 5 or more people (unrelated)
the tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities and;
at least one tenant pays rent
What makes a tenancy agreement invalid?
The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations states that if clauses in a contract are unfair it can be declared void. This means that terms and conditions in a tenancy agreement should reflect the statutory obligations of both parties and not contain unenforceable terms or clauses that are impractical (eg a clause stating that the tenant must pay for professional cleaning of the property).
How do I end a tenancy agreement?
A tenancy agreement can be ended by both landlord and tenant. However, this is subject to some conditions. Normally, neither landlord nor tenant can end the tenancy agreement before the initial fixed term ends unless there is a break clause in the agreement.
In this tenancy agreement template, you can choose to include a break clause, which will allow the tenant and landlord to end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term by giving the required notice. Landlords can end this agreement by serving 2 months’ notice on the tenant only after the first initial fixed term unless they have serious grounds for doing so, eg rent arrears.
For further information, read Tenant eviction.