When you sign a contract, it forms a legally-binding agreement between you and the landlord. The contract is not just the final document - it 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 acceptable. Most agents and landlords will use a professionally-written agreement/contract, but some may write their own which do not always reflect the laws relating to renting. This is why it is important to get it checked by someone independent if you have any concerns over the agreement/contract you are being asked to sign.
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, while the landlord is making money from you.
The SU Advice Centre team can go through your contract with you – please contact us to make an appointment.
Before you sign, make sure:
- You have seen the accommodation.
- Your group is one that you are confident will ‘work’.
- You have read and understood the contract.
- If the landlord/agent has promised that 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 stated add up correctly.
- The deposit figure is correct, and there are details for the deposit protection scheme the landlord will use.
- Agreed renovations are confirmed in writing by the landlord/agent – these can be included in the contract or via the 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 on this, please see: Which or Government Guidance.
- 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 or the Shelter website.
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 (e.g. the deposit), so make sure you understand what your agent/landlord will expect from you once you have signed.
If you have signed an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement, the landlord has specific legal obligations – further information about these can be found on the Shelter page.
If you are signing an agreement with a resident landlord, please see our information on Resident Landlords. If you are signing with Warwick Accommodation, see our page on University Accommodation here.