The type of agreement you have will depend mainly on:
- The date you moved in
- Who you live with (i.e. whether you live with the landlord)
- Who your landlord is (private landlords, University etc)
- the type of housing you live in (for example if services are provided by the landlord)
If you pay rent to a private landlord you will either have a tenancy or a licence. Both of these can be either written or verbal.
An agreement should tell you the type of tenancy you have, however, just because the landlord or letting agency says you have that type of agreement, the law may suggest otherwise. An agreement can give you additional rights, but it cannot take away from any rights that the law gives you. These rights will depend on the type of tenancy or licence you have.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
Most students who do not live in the same property as their landlord will have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. If you have any doubts about what type of agreement you have you can check using Shelter’s Tenancy Checker or visit the Advice Centre to discuss this with an adviser.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) can be for either a ‘Fixed Term’ (a specific period of time e.g. 12 months) or a ‘Periodic term’ (a term that has to be continually renewed, normally weekly or monthly – usually the continual payment of rent is considered enough to renew the agreement). A periodic tenancy is usually in place when you have a fixed term AST that has now run out but you are still living in the same property without signing a new agreement.
Resident landlord (Also known as Excluded occupier)
If you share your accommodation with your landlord you have fewer rights and are an unprotected tenant, known as an Excluded Occupier – your landlord only needs to give you ‘reasonable notice’ to cease your tenancy and there is no limit to the rent which can be charged.
If you are living in University owned student accommodation, in legal terms you are considered an ‘Occupier with basic protection’. You can find more information about University Accommodation here.
Generally speaking, if all tenants have signed the same agreement for use of the whole property, it is likely that a joint agreement is in place. This means that all the tenants are equally responsible as occupants of the property and are equally liable for the rent and repairs/damages. This can have serious consequences for example, if one tenant doesn’t pay their rent all the tenants would be liable even if it was only one student who had not paid.
You may be an Individual tenant if each member of the group has signed their own individual contract for a room in the property with access to shared facilities. This would limit the joint liability of the tenants.