Once you sign a contract (tenancy agreement) and move into the flat, it is legally binding. It’s important that before you move in, you get a written tenancy agreement, outlining the terms and conditions of your lease, the responsibilities of you as a tenant and those of your landlord. Having a document that outlines your rights and obligations helps secure your position as a tenant.
In general your contract should include the following:
- The landlord’s name and address
- The name(s) of the tenant(s)
- The amount of rent to be paid
- How long the lease is for
A tenancy can be joint or individual. Shelter
encourages you to insist on an individual tenancy agreement. There is no reason for tenancies to be joint, except to suit the landlord. If more than one tenant signs the same contract they are joint tenants. This means that they will be jointly and severally liable for the rent and unpaid bills for the property. They are also responsible solely for their private space in the accommodation, but all tenants will be responsible for the communal areas.
When a written contact is provided it is important that you read the terms and conditions carefully, paying particular attention to the parts about responsibility for repairs and the inventory. This way you can avoid potential disputes in the future.
You should have 24 hours to consider the agreement before signing. Try and have it checked out (Shelter can help) and that it is legal, ensure that there are no hidden clauses that could affect you during your tenancy.
Many letting agents and some landlords require a guarantor form signed by e.g. parent(s) or other family members. This is a form that guarantees payment of the rent and any other bills or payments that you are liable for under the terms of the agreement. If the tenancy is joint, be careful that the guarantor form is worked carefully otherwise your parent(s) could find they are liable for money owed by the other tenants.
Your landlord is also legally required to provide a Tenant Information Pack. This contains information surrounding property condition, tenancy agreements and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. The pack has to be signed by the tenant and the landlord to confirm receipt and should be provided free of charge. If your landlord does not provide a pack at the start of a new tenancy then they could face a fine of up to £500. Please notify Stirling Council
if you don’t receive one.
If you have a Resident Landlord (i.e. they live in with you) there are some different rules and regulations, contact Shelter
for more info or you can always speak to the Union who will direct you to the right people.