Tenancy agreements (contracts)
Download a fact sheet about tenancy agreements
Free tenancy agreement checking service
At Liverpool Student Homes we offer a free tenancy checking service, so if you are about to sign a new tenancy and you are unclear about any of the terms, we can explain them to you and also point out anything that sounds unfair.
To access this service please email a copy of your tenancy to LSH@liverpool.ac.uk, advising on any clauses or terms in particular that you would like to be checked. We will then contact you to discuss it.
Alternatively, you can bring your contract to our office for checking. Our office is open Monday to Friday 9am-4.30pm. If one of our housing advisors is not available immediately to discuss your tenancy, you may be asked to leave a copy and they will contact you once it has been checked or you may be asked to return later on (please note, in person tenancy checks are currently not being encouraged, and instead we would prefer you to email a copy over for review).
What is a tenancy agreement?
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between you and a landlord, although many agreements will also include the details of a managing agent as well. Once a contract has been signed, there are no guarantees you will be able to cancel the contract.
The tenancy agreement gives certain rights to both you and your landlord, for example, your right to occupy the accommodation and your landlord's right to receive rent for letting the accommodation. It lets you live in a property as long as you pay rent and follow the rules. It also sets out the legal terms and conditions of your tenancy.
We recommend that you get a written tenancy agreement from your landlord or agent and it should be signed by both you and your landlord. The landlord should provide you with a copy of the agreement.
If there are joint tenants on your contract, then it is recommended that each of you should receive a copy of the agreement.
Assured shorthold tenancy
A tenancy can either be a fixed-term (running for a set period of time) or periodic (running on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis). The most common form of tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) with most student tenancies being offered for 12 months, usually from 1st July to 30th June and a landlord can only evict you with a court order. Tenancy lengths for private halls can vary, and are often shorter than the standard 52 week contracts.
There are also landlords and agents who will offer shorter contracts for those students who wish to rent for a single semester. Students who are seeking short term semester lets can also check our student message board, as quite often students are advertising their rooms to be available for this type of rental.
When signing a 12 month tenancy, you may find the landlord or agent may offer a summer concession through the form of a rent free period or half rent (usually for July and August), or a summer retainer. Adverts on the LSH website will show if the landlord or agent has offered a summer concession.
If you have been offered a rent free or half rent summer concession, then you have a legal right to access the property from the start date of your tenancy, and lots of students choose to store belongings in the property until they return to commence their studies in September. If you wish to live in the property over the summer months, then you may be asked to pay full rent.
A retainer is a charge that can be requested where students wish to move into a property at a later date. Whilst the amount that can be charged is unrestricted, typically a retainer is charged at half rent for July and August. However, it is important to note that unlike half rent, if you are paying a retainer then the landlord has complete access to the property up until the start date of your tenancy. A student should clarify with their landlord what rights they intend them to acquire by paying the retainer, and get their response in writing. If they are not happy with the response, it is probably safer not to go ahead and if a dispute arises later, to take legal advice.
Any summer concessions should be made clear in the tenancy agreement, so always check your tenancy carefully before signing, and if you have any doubts, contact us for a free contract check. If you find a property you like and are not offered a summer concession, you can always try to negotiate to get one. You can also wait and sign up for a property much closer to the time if you do not wish to pay summer rent or a retainer.
From June 1 2019 the Tenant Fees Act was introduced in England, meaning landlords and agents will no longer be able to charge a number of fees for new tenancies signed on or after that date. This includes tenancies that are being renewed.
For more information, please visit our dedicated Tenant Fees Act page.
Joint tenancy agreements
If you and your housemates are all listed on one tenancy agreement with a landlord, then you will have a joint tenancy, with the following implications:
- Tenants are jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent and for any damage to the property.
- If a tenant does not pay their share or leaves, then the other tenants may be required to pay the outstanding rent amount and the landlord has the option of pursuing any of the tenants for the arrears.
- If a tenant wants to move out before the end of the contract, it is up to all tenants to find a replacement or they can agree to continue with the tenancy but cover the extra rent.
- If a replacement tenant is needed, all existing tenants must agree to the new tenant.
- In a joint contract, landlords cannot evict one tenant without evicting all of the others.
- If you have any problems paying your rent or continuing to live in a property, always talk to your landlord at the earliest opportunity.
Individual tenancy agreements
If each of you signed a separate agreement with the landlord, then you will have individual tenancies, with the following implications:
- You are only responsible for paying your own rent.
- You will be responsible for paying for any damage within your own room and an appropriate share of any damage in communal areas (unless another tenant accepts responsibility).
- If another tenant moves out you will have no say over who replaces them.
- If you wish to move out before the end of your contract, the landlord may agree to release you, but you may have to find a replacement.