Your landlord should provide you with a tenancy agreement when you agree to rent their property. A tenancy agreement is an agreement between landlord and tenant where, in return for rent, you can live in their property as your home. Tenancies are normally Assured Shorthold and must have an initial fixed term of a minimum of six (6) months, although this can be for longer than this if your landlord prefers. Your landlord should give you a copy of the agreement and should keep a counterpart copy for himself.
You should read the tenancy agreement through carefully before signing it. It is a legal document and legally binding and you are agreeing to abide by the terms written in it. Any changes to the agreement should be decided between yourself and the landlord and written into the document before signature. Do not be afraid to ask questions and make sure you understand what you are signing.
Agreements should contain information such as:
- the name of the landlord
- where he can be contacted
- how much the rent is
- whether it is to be paid weekly or monthly
- when the tenancy begins and how long it is for
- whether property is furnished or unfurnished
- and any rules regarding such things as whether pets are allowed or not, who is responsible for decorating etc.
Once the fixed period of the tenancy has expired, your tenancy will then become a "periodic tenancy" whereby you have the right to continue to live in the property and all the terms and conditions of your original agreement still stand. Alternatively, your landlord may grant you a further tenancy on a fixed-term basis. If you wish to leave the property you should give the landlord four weeks notice.
If the landlord wishes you to leave he must give you two months notice that he requires possession. He can give you notice during the fixed term but the notice period cannot end before the end of the fixed term, provided you do not break the rules of the tenancy agreement.
Remember - a tenancy agreement is a legal document. Make sure you read it thoroughly, understand it and are prepared to stick by its terms before you sign it. If you have any concerns seek legal advice.