Fundamental terms of occupation contracts

  • Fundamental terms are important rights that must be in all occupation contracts 
  • Your landlord can’t change or leave out any fundamental terms of your contract without your agreement
  • Fundamental terms can only be changed or left if it puts you in a better position

What are ‘fundamental terms’? 

The law states that there are certain terms that must be included in all occupation contracts. These are called ‘fundamental terms’.  

There are 2 types of fundamental terms:  

  • Hard fundamental terms – these can’t be left out of your contract or changed, even if you agree 
  • Soft fundamental terms – these can be left out of your contract or changed but only if you agree and it puts you in a better position  

Some fundamental terms only apply to certain kinds of contracts, such as secureperiodic standard or fixed term standard contracts. 

Hard fundamental terms in all contracts

These are terms that that can’t be changed: 

  • the landlord must protect your deposit and give you information about the deposit protection scheme 
  • if a joint contract-holder dies the surviving contract-holder/s keep all the rights and responsibilities of the contract  
  • if you die as a sole contract-holder and no one is entitled to take over the contract, the contract ends 1 month after your death  
  • you must not engage in antisocial behavior (this includes allowing people who live with you or visitors engaging in antisocial behaviour) 
  • your landlord must follow the correct process if they want to evict you in relation to giving notice and applying for a court order 
  • the landlord can apply to the court to evict you if they granted the contract on the basis of false information you provided  

Hard fundamental terms in fixed term and periodic standard contracts

These are terms that that can’t be changed: 

  • if you have a fixed term or periodic standard contract that began on or after 1 December 2022 your landlord can’t serve a ‘no fault’ notice if you haven’t been given 

– a written contract 

– an address,  

– a Gas Safety Report,  

– an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

– information about deposit protection,

– an electrical installation condition report, and 

– working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. 

If your renting agreement began before 1 December 2022, please see our advice section about eviction of converted contract-holders to find out what information your landlord must have given you to evict you using the ‘no fault’ procedure.

Soft fundamental terms in all contracts

These are terms that can be left out or changed if you agree and it puts you in a better position: 

  • the landlord must give you a written contract no later than 14 days after the contract starts   
  • the landlord must give you their address, or their agent’s address, no later than 14 days after the contract starts 
  • all notices and documents must be in writing 
  • you can add a joint contract-holder with the landord’s consent
  • the landlord or agent must not harass you or interfere with your right to live in your home 
  • you must not transfer your contract to anyone else or sublet any of the property unless your contract says you can 
  • if the landlord is liable to pay you compensation, you can withhold (or  ‘set off‘ ) rent up to the amount you are owed.
  • the landlord must ensure your home is fit for habitation and carry out repairs  
  • if your landlord wants to evict you on ‘breach of contract’ grounds, the reasons must be stated in the notice and the court can only grant a possession order if it is reasonable 
  • if your landlord wants to evict you on estate management grounds the reasons must be stated in the notice. The court can only grant a possession order if it’s reasonable and suitable alternative accommodation is available  
  • possession notices using grounds must give 1 month before the landlord starts court proceedings. Court action must start within 6 months  
  • if the landlord is evicting you due to antisocial behaviour they can start court action immediately. Court action must start within 6 months.
  • if you give notice to end the contract and don’t move out, the landlord can apply to court for a possession order within 2 months of your notice expiring. Court action must start within 6 months 
  • if you give notice to end the contract and move out before the notice expires, the contract ends at the end of the notice period.  
  • if you give notice to end the contract and move out after the notice expires, the contract ends when you leave 
  • you can end the contract before you move in if you haven’t received a written contract, but not after you move in 
  • if you and your landlord agree to end the contract by ‘surrender’, it ends when you move out 
  • if you move out because the landlord has committed a very serious breach, the contract ends when you move out  
  • if the court makes a possession order, the contract ends on the date you leave, even if this is before the date the order states you must leave 
  • a joint contract-holder can’t give notice to end the contract for all joint contract-holders. 

Soft fundamental terms in secure contracts

These are terms that can be left out or changed if you agree and it puts you in a better position: 

  • you can take in a lodger (this also applies to converted standard contracts that were secure tenancies immediately before 1 December 2022)  
  • you can transfer your contract to a potential successor with the landlord’s consent 
  • if you have a community landlord, you can swap your home with the landlord’s consent  
  • your landlord can only increase your rent with 2 months’ notice and not more than once a year 
  • supplementary terms can only be changed if the landlord consults with you and gives 1 months’ notice 
  • joint contract-holders can leave a secure contract by giving 1 months’ notice (unless supplementary terms specify a different notice period) 
  • you can end the contract by giving at least 4 weeks’ notice in writing 

Soft fundamental terms in periodic standard contracts

These terms can be left out or changed if you agree and it puts you in a better position: 

  • rent can be increased with 2 months’ written notice and not more than once a year
  • supplementary terms can only be changed by agreement 
  • a joint contract-holder can leave a periodic standard contract by giving 1 months’ notice (unless supplementary terms specify a different notice period) 
  • you can end the contract by giving at least 4 weeks’ notice in writing  
  • your landlord can give a ‘no fault’ (section 173) eviction notice if this is stated in the contract 
  • a ‘no fault’ notice must be 6 months (or 2 months if the contract is a converted contract or if one of the exceptions mentioned here applies)
  • your landlord can’t give you a ‘no fault’ notice until 6 months after your contract began (unless one of the exceptions listed here applies)
  • if your landlord withdraws a ‘no fault’ notice, and doesn’t reissue one within 28 days, they can’t give a ‘no fault’ notice for 6 months 
  • if the court decides that a ‘no fault’ notice is a retaliatory notice, the landlord can’t give you a ‘no fault’ notice for 6 months 
  • if your landlord gives you a ‘no fault’ notice and has given the required information, the court must grant a possession order
  • your landlord has 2 months after a ‘no fault’ notice ends to start court action 
  • if you move out before a ‘no fault’ notice period ends, then the contract ends at the end of the notice period.  
  • if you move out after a ‘no fault’ notice period ends, the contract ends when you leave 
  • if your landlord gives you a possession notice for serious rent arrears they can start court action after 2 weeks but not after 6 months 

Soft fundamental terms in fixed term standard contracts

These terms can be left out or changed if you agree and it puts you in a better position:

  • supplementary terms can only be changed by agreement 
  • you can end the contract if there is a contract-holder’s break clause by giving at least 4 weeks’ notice in writing 
  • a ‘no fault’ notice under a landlord’s break clause can only be given if the  fixed term is 2 years or more (unless one of the exceptions listed here applies)
  • a ‘no fault’ notice under a landlord’s break clause notice must be 6 months (it is allowed to be 2 months if it is a converted fixed term contract, or if one of the exceptions listed here applies)
  • a ‘no fault’ notice under a landlord’s break clause can’t be given until 18 months after your contract began (unless one of the exceptions listed here applies)
  • if the court decides that a ‘no fault’ notice under a landlord’s break clause is a retaliatory notice, the landlord can’t give you a ‘no fault’ notice for 6 months 
  • if your landlord gives you a ‘no fault’ (landlord’s break clause) notice and has given the required information, the court must grant a possession order
  • when a ‘no fault’ (landlord’s break clause) notice ends your landlord has 2 months to start court action
  • if you move out before a ‘no fault’ (landlord’s break clause) notice period ends, the contract ends when the notice expires.  
  • if you move out after a ‘no fault’ (landlord’s break clausenotice period ends, the contract ends when you leave
  • if your landlord gives you notice for serious rent arrears they can start court action after 2 weeks but not after 6 months
  • your landlord can give you a ‘no fault’ notice before the fixed term ends (called a section 186 notice) only if one of the exceptions here applies or you have a converted fixed term standard contract. 
  • a ‘no fault’ section 186 notice must give at least 2 months before court action can begin
  • a ‘no fault’ section 186 can’t be given until 4 months after you moved in and can’t expire until the end of the fixed term 

What should my landlord do if we agree to leave out any fundamental terms? 

If you agree with your landlord that a fundamental can be left out of your contract then this should be clearly identified in the written contract. If your landlord does not do this you can apply to the county court to provide a correct contract and your landlord may have to pay you compensation. For more information, please see our advice about written contracts. 

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We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

This page was last updated on: Awst 22, 2023

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.