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Tenancy Agreements: all you need to know

When it comes to renting, the most important advice we can give our tenants is to read the tenancy agreement! Many choose not to, and this can lead to complications during the tenancy and at the end when the deposit comes into question.

The tenancy agreement is in place to protect both parties throughout the course of a tenancy, so if you’re keen to know the ins and outs to ensure that all your renting experiences run smoothly, we’ve broken down all there is to know about the agreement between you and your landlord...

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a binding contract which allows the tenant to live at the property as long as rent is paid on time and the established rules are followed. It also details the legal terms and conditions that need to be adhered to by both parties - which in turn, protects specific rights of both landlord and tenant. Tenancy agreements can be written or verbal, but it’s advisable to request a written agreement.

The specific terms of your tenancy agreement will depend on the type of tenancy the landlord is offering. A tenancy can either be:

  • Fixed-term – The tenant will live in the property for a set period of time, although this can sometimes be renewed if the landlord agrees.
  • Periodic – The tenancy will run on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis.

Why you need a tenancy agreement in place

Without a tenancy agreement, tenants and landlords will have no written record of their contract, leaving both parties susceptible to an unresolvable dispute due to a lack of legal options and evidence. Rental agreements are a necessary measure to protect the legal rights of both landlords and tenants while also allowing the convenience of having all important documents related to the tenancy in one place.

A tenancy agreement is also used for clarity, and since it’s a binding contract between landlord and tenant, it enlists all rules and responsibilities without room for misinterpretation. It will also contain details about actions either person can do if the other person does not keep to their side of the agreement.

What should be included in a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement (depending on the property) should include but is not limited to:

  • The names of all people involved
  • The rental price and payment method
  • Details on how and when the rent will be reviewed
  • The deposit amount, and how/where it is protected
  • Details of when the deposit can be fully or partially withheld (i.e., for repairing damage that you are liable for)
  • The start and end date of the tenancy
  • The notice period required from landlord or tenant for terminating the tenancy
  • Any tenant and landlord obligations
  • An itemised list of bills you will be responsible for during the tenancy

Landlords have the right to tailor tenancy agreements to suit their needs and also the needs of their tenants. However, there are certain terms (known as implied terms) that landlords are legally obligated to include in tenancy agreements. These include:

  • Tenants are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the home.
  • Tenants must treat rental properties respectfully and not purposefully cause damage.
  • Tenants are required to provide access for any repair work or property inspections.
  • Landlords must carry out basic repairs, including keeping the installations for the supply of water, sanitation, gas, heating and electricity in good working order.

Other things to consider about your tenancy agreement

You should thoroughly check the terms of an agreement before signing, as this will be your last opportunity to let the landlord know of any specific requirements or queries you might have regarding the terms of the tenancy. Failing to fully understand all of the terms that you are agreeing to upon signing can lead to all kinds of disputes and complications. Some of the most common misunderstandings arise from:

Overnight guests

As mentioned above, tenants are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the rental home, which means that you are permitted to have the occasional guest stay over. However, as the tenant you will be responsible for the behaviour of your guests and you’ll need to make any visitors aware that ‘nuisance’ behaviour or damage to the property could result in a breach of your tenancy agreement.


The majority of landlords will prohibit smoking as the damage it causes is deemed too high. If this is the case, your tenancy agreement will clearly state this. Be wary of disregarding this rule, as your deposit may be used to offset any damage caused – or you could face penalties.


Every tenancy agreement will cover redecorating, and if you’ve read the rules but still aren’t sure which changes (if any) you’re allowed to make; always ask your landlord first. You will usually need to get their permission to make any substantial changes to the property. Most tenancy agreements also state that the property must be returned to its original state when the tenancy ends, while others will include clauses stating that tenants must pay redecoration costs if décor is changed without the consent of the landlord. So even if your agreement has some leeway for decorating, it’s advisable to stick to non-invasive décor to protect the property’s original state, as well as your deposit.

Further reading…

Top tips to ensure you keep your rental deposit

The dos and don’ts of renting a property

If you are renting through Martin & Co and have any questions about your tenancy, please get in touch with your local office.

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