Your Guide to Student Tenancy Agreements

Entering the world of rental contracts can be daunting at first. But once you got the gist of it, you’ll know what to look out for in your tenancy agreements. You will mostly find that there are two main types of rental contracts for students. In this article, we will familiarise you with these and other important factors, so that you’ll be more confident entering your first rental agreement as a tenant.

How do student tenancy agreements work in renting?

A rental tenancy agreement or contract is a written agreement between the landlord or letting agency and those occupying the rental property. This agreement lays out the legal terms and conditions. Such terms include, but are not limited to: the start and end date of a tenancy, the monthly rental costs, the security deposit, how many people and who will be renting the property, and whether a guarantor is involved. A rental contract also sets out both party’s obligations. For example, the landlord should maintain certain levels of upkeep and security, and it is the tenant’s obligation to maintain a clean property and pay the rent on time.

What are the different types of student contracts  available?

The two most common rental agreements for students are Assured Shorthold Tenancy (ASTs) agreements and Common Law tenancies:

ASTs:

ASTs are the most common type of tenancy in England, the laws of which are set out in the Housing Act 1988. These tenancies usually run for a certain amount of time, in most cases, 6 or 12 months, and the landlord has the right to evict the tenant without reason. Note that the eviction process still has to be upheld, and a notice period should be served. Any security deposit paid under an AST has to be deposited in a tenancy deposit protection scheme.

Common Law Tenancies:

Common Law tenancies are not covered by the Housing Act. These types of rentals are common for university-owned student accommodation or when tenants live with their landlords. In the case of common law tenancies, if a deposit is paid, it does not legally need to be lodged in a protection scheme.

Which rental contract should you choose?

As a tenant, you usually do not get the choice of a rental contract, as is the landlord who chooses. The most important aspect of a rental agreement is that you properly read and understand what kind of contract you are signing. Ask questions if something is unclear.

What should I know about break clauses to my Student Tenancy Agreement?

Break clauses can be inserted in rental contracts which allow both tenants and landlords to exit the agreement earlier than planned. So, for example, if you have a 12-month contract, when you have a break clause within this contract, both you and your landlord could agree to end the tenancy after 9-months. Each break clause will vary, so be sure to read the specific requirements carefully (e.g. the notice period).

What should I check before signing a rental contract?

Before signing your rental agreement, make sure that everything you discussed and agreed upon with the landlord is included in your agreement. The main and most important factors to check are:

  • Rent amount and payment date
  • Deposit amount
  • Contract length
  • Notice period
  • Are any break clauses included?
  • Tenant names

If you are uncertain about some aspects of your tenancy agreement, seek out advice. Most Colleges and Universities will have a team dedicated to housing and rental queries. For many of you this may be the first contract you will be presented with, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and double or triple check facts. 

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