Signing the Contract
When you sign a contract it forms a legally binding agreement between you and the landlord. The contract is not just the final document but can include all the discussions and information you have been given prior to signing the tenancy agreement. It is possible to have a verbal contract, but: if it is not in writing it may be hard to prove!
It is very important that you understand the agreement/contract you are signing, and whether it is an acceptable contract. Most agents and landlords will use a professionally written agreement/contract, but some may write their own contracts, which do not always reflect the laws relating to renting, this is why it is important if you have any concerns over the agreement/contract you are being asked to sign that you get it checked by someone independent.
Most student contracts are for a fixed term without a break clause, which means that once you have signed it you will have to pay the whole rent for the fixed term.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, renting accommodation is a commercial transaction. You are getting somewhere to live and the landlord is make money from you.
At the Students’ Union Advice Centre we can go through your contract with you, all you have to do is Contact Us asking for a contract check and we will arrange an appointment.
Before you Sign, make sure:
- You have seen the Accommodation.
- Your group is one that will ‘work’.
- You have read and understood the contract.
- If the landlord/agent has promised certain work will be done before you move in, make sure the details of the work form part of your contract.
- That everyone signing the contract understands it and their obligations.
Understanding and Reading the Contract/agreement
- Make sure you read it and check all of the details are correct:
- The names of all the people signing the agreement are correct.
- The name and address of the landlord is included
- The address of the property is correct.
- The length of the tenancy is what you have agreed.
- The rent is for the agreed amount, and that any figures add up correctly.
- The deposit figure is correct. There are details for the deposit protection scheme the landlord will use.
- Agreed renovations are in writing from the landlord/agent. They can be included in the contract or eg by exchange of emails.
- Everyone signing the agreement has read it and fully understands it.
- All contracts are subject to unfair contract terms guidance for information about this see our Unfair Contract Terms page.
- Most tenancy agreements are subject to implied terms from statute and common law, which cannot be contracted out of, for further information on the most important implied terms please see our page on Renting Accommodation and see Shelter
- If you are signing an assured shorthold tenancy (which will be most students) the deposit must be protected for information about this see our Deposit and how to get it back page. For these contracts you must also be given certain prescribed information within 30 days of paying the deposit. This includes:
- The address of the rented property
- How much deposit you’ve paid
- How the deposit is protected
- The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and Its dispute resolution service
- Their (or the letting agency’s) name and contact details
- The name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit
- Why they would keep some or all of the deposit
- How to apply to get the deposit back
- What to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy
- What to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit
If you have any questions or concerns do not sign the contract until you have had a chance to get further advice/information, don’t be pressured into signing until you understand it.
Signing your contract will usually trigger the need to make some payments eg deposit so make sure you understand what your agent/landlord will expect you once you have signed.
If you have signed an assured shorthold tenancy agreement the landlord has some legal obligations, further information on these can be found on the Shelter page
If you are signing an agreement with a resident landlord please see our information on Resident Landlord and if you are signing up with Warwick Accommodation see our on University Accommodation, for more information.
For further help and advice please contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre or see Shelter