Renting agreements that are not occupation contracts
- In some circumstances, a renting agreement may not be an occupation contract
- Renting agreements that are not occupation contracts can be verbal, but it is best if they are in writing
Most renting agreements are either secure, periodic standard or fixed term standard occupation contracts. This applies to agreements made before 1 December 2022 (which became converted occupation contracts), and renting agreements made after that date.
However, some renting agreements might not be occupation contracts. These include:
- licences or common law tenancies in temporary accommodation
- licences or common law tenancies in supported accommodation
- private regulated tenancies that started before 15 January 1989
- accommodation that is shared with the landlord
- business tenancies
- holiday lets.
- certain types of agricultural tenancies
- armed forces accommodation (you could be an occupier with basic protection if this applies to you)
- accommodation rented to people under the age of 18. You might have a license to occupy or an adult might hold the tenancy in trust until you reach 18.
This is not a complete list of renting agreements that might not be occupation contracts. Get advice if you are unsure about what type of agreement you have.
I do not have an occupation contract. What does this mean for me?
If one of the exceptions above apply to and you are not an occupation contract-holder, your landlord does not have to provide you with a written agreement by law. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have a legal right to live in your home.
What if I only have a verbal agreement?
Most landlords will give you a written agreement but, even if you don’t have one, you still have rights.
If the landlord accepts rent from you for living in the property, then any verbal agreement you have made counts as a legal agreement. It will be either a secure contract, a kind of standard contract, a common law tenancy or a licence.
You will not necessarily have the kind of agreement your landlord says that you have, so it is always best to get help if you aren’t sure.
Verbal agreements can be more difficult to enforce if there is any dispute, so it’s worth asking your landlord to put it in writing. It will be in their interest as well as yours to ensure that both sides understand their rights and responsibilities.
What should I check for in a written agreement?
If you have a written agreement, it should set out the rights and responsibilities you have while you’re renting, and should list the terms and conditions you and your landlord need to stick to while you’re living there.
Read it carefully before you sign it and ask the landlord to clarify anything you’re unsure of. Certain rights and obligations will apply regardless of what the agreement says.
Check whether your agreement includes information such as:
- name of the occupier(s)
- address of the property (or room) you are renting
- name and address of the landlord, and the letting agent if there is one
- how much the rent is, when it is due and how it should be paid
- what the rent covers. Does it include any bills, council tax, water rates, or other charges?
- how long the agreement is for
- whether you have to pay a deposit, and if so, how much and when the landlord can keep the deposit
- where you have agreed to rent for a fixed term, whether you can leave before the end of the agreement, and how much notice you have to give
- what furniture, if any, will be provided
- who is responsible for repairs (the landlord will always be responsible for external and structural repairs, and safety, regardless of what it says)
- whether you can sublet or have lodgers
- whether you can pass the agreement on to anyone else
- whether there are any other rules, for example about pets, guests or smoking.
Can I be certain what kind of agreement I have by reading it?
In most cases yes, but it’s possible that you have a different type of renting agreement than your landlord or contract says you have.
Although most written renting agreements get this right, it’s worth double checking, because different types of renting arrangements give you very different rights.
The type of renting agreement you have doesn’t just depend on what’s written in your agreement.
It also depends on:
- who your landlord is
- the type of housing you live in (eg if support or services are provided)
- who you share with, and
- when you moved in.
For example, if you moved in to your home before 15 January 1989 you might have a regulated tenancy, even if the agreement says otherwise. This type of agreement gives strong rights against eviction.
What can I do if the agreement is unfair?
Your agreement should be written in straightforward language that you can understand. It shouldn’t contain any unfair terms, such as clauses saying:
- that the landlord can change the terms of the agreement whenever s/he likes
- that you have to pay for, or arrange, structural repairs – these are the landlord’s responsibility
- that your landlord can come round whenever s/he likes, without giving notice (this might be classed as harassment).
Unfair terms are not legally binding. If you think your agreement includes unfair terms or your landlord is holding you to something you don’t think is fair, ask an adviser to look at the agreement for you.
The Competition and Markets Authority have produced guidance to businesses about unfair contract terms.
What rights do I have in a joint agreement?
Any type of renting agreement can also be a joint agreement. For example, you will have a joint agreement if both you and a partner or a spouse sign the agreement.
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 conditions of 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 ensuring 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 be ended for everyone. This does not apply if you have an occupation contract or any kind of fixed term agreement. If it does happen, those that want to stay could try to negotiate a new agreement before the original one ends.
What happens when an agreement runs out?
Some common law tenancies or licence agreements are granted for a fixed term, such as six months or one 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 agreement 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 procedures the landlord has to follow if s/he wants you to leave. These depend on the type of renting agreement you have. Find out more about eviction here.
You can leave on the last day of a fixed term agreement without giving notice, however, to stop any problems in the future it is usually a good idea to give your landlord notice. Good communication with your landlord helps things to go smoothly.
If you know you want to leave at the end of the fixed term it is best to give the landlord notice.
Are you under 25?
If you are under 25, take a look at our advice pages, specifically put together for young people.
If you’re not sure what type of renting agreement you have, get help from Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice team.