Law guide: Landlords

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What's in a tenancy agreement?

What's in a tenancy agreement?

The tenancy agreement should clearly set out the terms of the contract between you and the tenant. It should include all the terms that you and the tenant have agreed (as long as they don't conflict with the law), such as how long the tenancy will run for.

Main clauses in a tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement should state the type of tenancy (for example, an assured shorthold tenancy or an assured tenancy in England or a private residential tenancy in Scotland).

A landlord must give the tenant their name and an address at which the tenant can send or give documents to the landlord. It's best to state the landlord's name and address in the tenancy agreement; if this isn't done, the landlord must give the tenant a separate notice of their address (in Northern Ireland this will be contained in the tenancy information notice).

These are the most important terms and other information to include in a tenancy agreement:

  • Landlord's full name and address
  • Full name of the tenant(s)
  • The address of the property being let
  • The type of tenancy (except in Northern Ireland, where it is not required)
  • The duration of the agreement (i.e. whether the tenancy will be fixed term or periodic) (Scotland no longer has fixed-term tenancies)
  • Details of the tenancy deposit, including the amount and which tenancy deposit scheme it is protected by
  • The amount of rent to be paid, when it's due, how it should be paid, and what it covers (for example, whether it includes the cost of any utilities or services)
  • For a fixed-term tenancy, whether the landlord or the tenant can end the tenancy before the end of the term (i.e. whether there's a break clause) and if so, the required notice period and how notice may be given

An inventory of any furniture and fittings supplied with the property should be attached to the tenancy agreement – see Inventory of furnishings and fittings.

Other terms you could include

You might also want to include in the tenancy agreement:

  • The name and address of an agent (for example, if the tenant must pay the rent to the agent)
  • Any express terms about the landlord's obligations to keep the structure and exterior in repair (although these will be implied by law if not specifically stated); if included, these terms mustn't be less generous to the tenant than the law provides
  • The tenant's obligation to allow the landlord access to inspect and repair the property and to allow viewings by new tenants/purchasers or to enter the premises in an emergency
  • Other agreed rules (for example, about children, pets, guests, smoking)
  • Information about the deposit scheme being used – see Registering the deposit
  • Breaches of the agreement by the tenant that will allow the landlord to recoup any losses caused by the tenant from the deposit paid at the start of the term
  • Rent review provisions (for longer-term tenancies), stating when (and how frequently) the rent can be reviewed, and how the rent will be reviewed. You could then reference the tenancy terms if you want to increase the rent during the tenancy – see Rent and deposits.

Implied terms in a tenancy agreement

Some terms apply automatically by law (as a result of custom, past decisions in court cases and sometimes by statutes). They are not necessarily stated in the tenancy agreement and may even override terms that you and the tenant have agreed in the tenancy agreement. They're called implied terms.

These are some common implied terms:

  • Landlords must carry out basic repairs
  • If the property is furnished, the furniture must be safe and fit for use by the tenants
  • Landlords must keep installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and water heating in good working order
  • Tenants have an obligation to use the property in a way that a reasonable tenant would do, such as not causing damage and using equipment provided by a landlord in a proper way (known as using the property in a 'tenant-like manner')
  • Tenants have an obligation to pay rent and provide access to the property for any repair work
  • Tenants have the right to live peacefully in the property without intrusion or disturbance from the landlord (known as the right to 'quiet enjoyment')
  • Tenants have a right to expect that the property and any common parts will be fit for human habitation from the time the tenancy starts until it ends.

The landlord can't reduce their obligations by using a term in the tenancy agreement to do so. The same applies to health and safety requirements under the law – see Overview of landlord obligations.

Does a tenancy agreement have to comply with any laws?

Tenants are entitled to have tenancy agreements that strike a fair balance between the tenant and the landlord. The terms of the agreement must be fair and be set out in plain, intelligible language.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 protects tenants from unfair terms that may favour the landlord in a tenancy agreement. The only exceptions are for price-setting terms and for terms that give details of the property and the length of the tenancy – but these must still be in plain and intelligible language.

Prospective tenants should be given every opportunity to read and understand the terms of a tenancy agreement before becoming bound by them.

There are also laws that govern any deposit paid by the tenant to the landlord. The landlord can't reduce the rights of the tenant by including contrary provisions in the tenancy agreement. See Registering the deposit for more information on deposit requirements.

Note also that, for properties in England, Wales and Scotland, you can't include anything in a tenancy agreement that goes against the Fees ban.

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