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How to make a Tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a private tenant and a landlord. Residential tenancy agreements are used to rent out residential property. Commercial tenancy agreements are used to rent out commercial property.

In England and Wales, the most common type of residential tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). For more information on ASTs, read Residential tenancies.

In Scotland, all residential tenancies that started on or after 1 December 2017 are private residential tenancies.  For more information on these, read Residential tenancies in Scotland.

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 term rental agreement.

Use this tenancy agreement form if you are letting a house, a flat, a room, a room in a property you live in, or a commercial property. These straightforward tenancy agreements will help you avoid all the hassles of letting and make repossession simple.

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. You should only use a room rental agreement if you do not live at the property in question.

For more information on residential tenancy agreements, read Residential tenancies and Residential tenancies in Scotland.

You should use a commercial lease if you are renting out commercial property (eg an office) to a commercial tenant (eg a business or charity). For more information, read Entering a commercial lease and Commercial property in Scotland.

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

  • the tenant has the right to use a bedroom at the property, and 

  • the tenant has the right to use other rooms along with other tenants

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. For more information, read Taking in a lodger.

Rocket Lawyer’s tenancy agreement templates, for renting a flat, house or room include:

Both landlords and tenants have certain obligations under the tenancy agreement. This includes obligations that are not expressly mentioned in the tenancy agreement but will be implied by the Housing Act 1988 (ie the statute that governs the laws between landlords and tenants). 

Examples of landlord obligations and responsibilities include:

  • carrying out basic repairs

  • ensuring relevant health and safety checks are conducted (eg gas safety checks, providing smoke alarms and making sure wiring and electrical appliances are safe) 

  • giving tenants sufficient notice (usually 24 hours) to inspect the property

  • not unnecessarily interfering (eg landlords should not let themselves 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 include: 

  • keeping the property in good condition 

  • paying the rent and utility bills 

  • not damaging the property and making sure any guests are well behaved 

  • not subletting the property 

  • allowing the landlord to carry out inspections of the property

For more information, read Tenant’s and owner’s obligations and Tenant's and owner's obligations in Scotland.

Commercial landlords and tenants have various obligations under a commercial lease, including having to pay rent and providing access to the property. However, most important, are repair obligations. As a general rule:

  • tenants are responsible for maintaining the property and ensuring that it is restored to the state in which it was at the beginning of the lease

  • landlords are responsible for any structural repairs needed to maintain commercial properties

For more information, read Commercial property repair obligations.

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. Guarantors are typically used when renting out residential property.

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). 

An AST (for England and Wales) should be for a minimum of 6 months. However, it can last for any longer 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.

How long a commercial lease lasts depends on whether the tenant has security of tenure (ie the right to renew a commercial lease). If the tenant has security of tenure, the tenant can renew the lease and the landlord can only refuse to grant a new lease on certain strict grounds. If security has been contracted out of (ie excluded), the lease will come to an end on the expiry date. For more information, read Rent commercial property.

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

  • the property is let to a private limited company

  • the property is owned by the Government or the Crown

  • you are renting property in Scotland

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 come to an end. 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.

An HMO is a property rented to three or more tenants who are not related and who share certain rooms in the property (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 (unrelated) people 

  • the tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities, and

  • at least one tenant pays rent

The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 state 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).

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 or both parties agree to end the tenancy (known as ‘surrender’ in England and Wales).

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. For more information, read Ending your tenancy early.

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 more information, read Tenant eviction.

The process for ending a commercial lease varies depending on whether the landlord or the tenant is bringing it to an end, and on what basis. For more information, read How to terminate commercial leases.

Other names for Tenancy agreement

Lease agreement, AST, Assured shorthold tenancy, AST agreement, Short assured tenancy, Residential tenancy agreement, Private residential tenancy, Residential lease, Commercial lease, Commercial tenancy.