Most people who rent from private landlords have assured shorthold tenancy contracts. This is the standard contract for private renters.
You should get an assured shorthold tenancy contract to sign before your tenancy starts. The contract tells you how much rent to pay, who is responsible for repairs and how long the tenancy lasts. You are committed to pay the agreed rent for the length of your contract, which is usually six months or a year.
At the start of an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord takes a sum of money as a deposit in case the property is damaged or rent is unpaid when you leave.
Your landlord has to protect your tenancy deposit in a government approved scheme.
Make sure you and your landlord agree a thorough inventory of your rented home. Get photos of the interior and exterior, and any existing damage. This can help resolve any disputes about deductions from your tenancy deposit at the end of your stay.
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Your landlord cannot increase the rent set out in your contract during the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy (unless your contract sets out when it can be increased). Once the fixed term ends, your landlord can increase your rent.
Your landlord is responsible for most repairs. This includes repairs to:
- the roof
- walls, windows and doors
- wiring and plumbing
Inform your landlord or agent if repairs are needed. You must allow your landlord access to your home to carry out repairs but your landlord must give you reasonable notice.
You are entitled to a copy of the gas safety certificate your landlord has to get each year.
Take care of the property and carry out day-to-day tasks. You might need to:
- unblock a sink
- change lightbulbs
- clean windows
Check your contract for any extra responsibilities such as who has to maintain the garden or communal areas.
Leaving or staying on
You have a number of options when your contract comes up for renewal:
1. Ask your landlord for a new fixed term contract if you would like to stay longer - if you do this you may have to pay renewal fees and your landlord has the right to increase your rent.
2. Leave at the end of the fixed term - you have to give your landlord at least a month's notice in writing as specified in your contract.
3. Stay beyond the fixed term even if you don't sign a new contract - your agreement becomes 'periodic' and rolls from month to month with the same rent.
4. Leave before the end of the fixed term - some contracts include a 'break clause' which gives you this option, otherwise you'll need to negotiate with your landlord.
You have some protection from eviction as an assured shorthold tenant. You don't have to leave straightaway because the landlord tells you to. The landlord must get a court order. Landlords must also follow set procedures to evict.
Find out more about eviction procedures and your rights.
Do you have an assured shorthold tenancy?
You will probably have an assured shorthold tenancy if you rent from a private landlord. But if you moved in between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 your landlord had to give you a notice before your tenancy started saying you have an assured shorthold tenancy.
You probably have a regulated tenancy if your private tenancy started before 15 January 1989.
Ask an adviser if you have any questions or concerns about your tenancy or contract. Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.
Read the government's guide How To Rent for more information on finding and renting a home.