Understanding your tenancy
What do I need to know?
If you rent your home, you probably have a tenancy agreement with your landlord.
A tenancy is a contract with your landlord which sets out both your rights and responsibilities.
It is important that you keep to the terms of your tenancy.
A tenancy agreement is usually made in writing but a tenancy can also be created by a verbal agreement.
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All written tenancies have common terms. These are some of the main ones:
- Tenancy deposit – the money you pay to your landlord at the beginning of your tenancy. It gives the landlord some protection in case there is damage to the property or rent arrears when you leave. Landlords must put tenancy deposits into a government scheme
- Rent – the amount you must pay to your landlord to live in the property. You usually have to pay your rent every week or every month. If you don’t pay your rent you might be evicted
- Term – the length of time you are able to rent the property for. This is often 6 or 12 months but might be more
- Assignment – when a tenancy is transferred from one tenant to another
- Repair obligations – these tell you what repairs your landlord must carry out and what repairs are your responsibility.
- Succession– when a person takes over a tenancy when the tenant dies. The person who inherits the tenancy is called a successor.
If you sign a joint agreement with another person or group of people, you have exactly the same rights and obligations as each other.
You are all equally responsible for sticking to the agreement. For example:
- if one person doesn’t pay their rent, the others will have to pay it for them. As a group, each of you is responsible for making sure that the whole rent is paid
- if one of you wants to leave and gives the landlord notice to end the agreement, it will normally end the tenancy for everyone. If this happens, those that want to stay should speak to the landlord and see if you can agree a new agreement before the original one ends.
Some tenancy agreements are for a fixed term, such as 6 months or 1 year. When the fixed term ends one of two things will happen:
- your landlord might give you a new agreement for a further fixed term, or
- your tenancy will automatically continue on the same basis as before but will roll from month to month or week to week rather than being for a set period.
In most cases, your landlord has to give you notice and can’t just ask you to move out on the last day. There are special legal rules the landlord has to follow if s/he wants you to leave. These depend on the type of tenancy you have.
If you know you want to leave at the end of the fixed term it is best to give the landlord notice.
The type of tenancy you have depends on many things, including who your landlord is and when the agreement started.
Click on the options below to work out what you have.
If you rent your home from a private landlord you will probably have an assured shorthold tenancy but this is not always the case.
Always check what it says on your tenancy agreement and also look at your particular circumstances. It’s possible that you have a different type of tenancy than your agreement says.
In Wales, you might be an:
- assured shorthold tenant
If you rent from a private landlord, and don’t share living space with them, you will have an assured shorthold tenancy.
- excluded occupier
If you share accommodation (such as a kitchen, bathroom or living room) with your landlord you are likely to be an excluded occupier.
- occupier with basic protection
If your landlord lives in the same building as you but you don’t share accommodation, or you live in halls of residence at a university, you are likely to be an occupier with basic protection.
If you live in accommodation where you rent from somebody who is the tenant, you will be a subtenant.
If you are renting from the council, the type of tenancy agreement you have will affect many of your rights, including how and when the council can evict you, how your rent can be increased and whether you can pass your tenancy on.
The council should give you a written agreement, which says clearly what type of tenancy you have and what your rights and responsibilities are.
In Wales, you might have a :
- secure tenancy
Secure tenants can only be evicted in certain situations. You can take in a lodger and may be able to pass on your tenancy, get a transfer or exchange your home. The council has to do most repairs.
- introductory tenancy
An introductory tenancy is a one-year trial council tenancy. It gives you most of the same rights as a secure tenancy and as long as you don’t break your agreement you will automatically become a secure tenant at the end of the one-year.
- demoted tenancy
You will have a demoted tenancy if the court made an order to downgrade your secure tenancy. Demoted tenancies give you less rights and less protection from eviction.
The court will demote your tenancy if you (or someone who lives with you, or visits you regularly):
- behaved antisocially or caused nuisance in the area
- threatened to do so, or
- used your home for illegal activities such as drug dealing.
The type of tenancy agreement you have with the housing association will affect many of your rights, including how and when you can be evicted, how your rent can be increased and whether you can pass your tenancy on.
The housing association should give you a written tenancy agreement, which says clearly what type of tenancy you have, and tells you your rights and responsibilities.
You might have an:
- assured tenancy
As an assured tenant you have the right to live in your home as long as you don’t break the rules of your tenancy agreement.
The housing association should give you information about what repairs you are responsible for, which usually includes internal decoration and putting right any damage you cause.
The housing association is usually responsible for most other repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork. They also have to make sure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely.
- assured shorthold tenancy
Housing associations often give assured shorthold tenancies as a type of ‘starter’ or trial tenancy for a period of 12 months. Assured shorthold tenants can be evicted fairly easily.
The housing association is usually responsible for most repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork. They also have to make sure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely.
- demoted tenancy
You probably have a demoted tenancy if you used to have an assured or secure tenancy and the housing association got a ‘demotion order’ from the court. Demoted tenancies usually last for one year. If there are no problems during that time, you will automatically be given a new assured tenancy.
- secure tenancy
Secure housing association tenants have strong rights but most have been renting their homes since before 1989 so will not be given to any young people.