Housing rights and contracts
You do not need a written contract to rent in the private sector.
If you do not have a written contract, the terms you agree orally (verbally) with the landlord count as your contract. This makes it very important to be especially clear about key terms such as how much the rent is and when and how it should be paid.
In almost all cases, unless you live with a resident landlord, if you do not have a written contract you will be an assured shorthold tenant.
Assured and assured shorthold contracts
Most people who rent from private landlords have assured or assured shorthold contracts. These can be:
- fixed term (eg 12 months)
- periodic (no fixed term) or
- statutory periodic (when a fixed term has expired and no new fixed term has been agreed).
Most students have fixed term assured shorthold contracts.
The Union produces a model fixed term assured shorthold contract. Copies are available free to students from the Student Advice Centre.
Joint contracts are very common in private sector housing and in Sheffield it is very likely that you will be asked to sign a joint tenancy if you move into shared student housing.
If you sign a joint contract you are normally liable for the whole rent on the property. Additionally, you cannot normally get out of a joint fixed term contract without the consent of the landlord and your joint tenants. For more information click here.
Assured and assured shorthold contracts can both be joint contracts.
The section applies to people with assured or assured shorthold contracts, including joint assured or assured shorthold contracts. If you have a resident landlord you do not have the same rights.
Tenants with assured and assured shorthold contracts:
- cannot be evicted without a court order
- are protected against harassment and illegal eviction
- are entitled to 24 hours notice of non-emergency visits by their landlord or anyone working for him/her
- can expect their landlord to deal with major repairs
- cannot have their rent increased during a fixed term contract unless the contract allows
In addition, tenants with assured shorthold contracts:
- must have their deposits protected
- can apply for a rent reduction within the first six months of the letting
- are entitled to written confirmation of certain key terms of the tenancy. These are: the start date; the amount of rent payable and the dates of payment; details of any provision for a rent review; and the length of the fixed term (if applicable).