This article explains what a housing contract is and your rights. If you are looking for information on the different sections in the housing contract see this article.

When you have found a property that you are happy with, you will be expected to pay a deposit and then sign a contract.

What a housing contract is

A contract is a legally binding document. It details the terms of the property you will rent and the amount and period you are expected to rent it for. So once you have signed one, you have committed yourself to meeting the rental payments for the period the contract states - you do not generally get the chance to change your mind.

You should not feel pressured into signing a contract straight away – it is quite common for landlords to say that they have got several groups waiting for the house, but this may not always be true. Always ask to see a copy of the contract before agreeing to sign.

A contract will also include ‘tenant responsibilities’ - how you are expected to maintain the property, and ‘landlord responsibilities’ – what the landlord is expected to do and ensure, so that you can live comfortably and safely in your home.

The Tenancy Agreement (contract) should have the full name, address and contact detail of the landlord and clearly state the rental amounts and period of occupancy. The tenant details should also be clearly indicated on the contract.

Understand your rights when signing a contract

  • Make sure you are protected: get a copy of the contract and the inventory and keep them somewhere safe.
  • Ask for 24 hours to read through any contract.
  • Do not sign anything you do not understand.
  • If you are not sure about any of the clauses in the contract, please feel free to pop into the Student Housing office (or attach it to an email and send it to student.housing@port.ac.uk) and ask for advice before you sign it. It’s no good querying something once you have signed the agreement as you won’t be able to break your agreement! The housing team can give advice but do not take responsibility for private listings.
  • Do not feel pressured into signing for a property you know is not right for you! Be wary of owners/agents who want you to sign on the spot. There are a lot of properties available for students so never feel pressured (by your potential housemates, agencies, landlords, parents etc.)
  • Be aware that you may be signing a joint tenancy contract*, so make sure you really trust the other people you are renting with.
  • Think before you sign.

*A joint contract means all housemates are liable for rent payments and damages in the event one housemate, or more, leave the property. This will also potentially include your guarantor, so double-check it before signing anything.

Factors to consider when looking at the housing contract

See this article on the factors to consider when looking at a housing contract.

Ending a tenancy

  • Walking away or posting the keys through the letterbox is called 'abandonment' and will not end a tenancy agreement. The agreement will continue even if the tenants have left and the landlord has the right to continue to charge rent.
  • A landlord can apply for a court order to make tenants pay what is owed. It should be noted that if the property has since been let out rent can only be claimed for the period of time before a new tenant has moved in/or until when the term ends.
  • If you chose to leave the property at the end of the tenancy, the tenant has the right to leave on the last day of the fixed term. If they stay even one day over the fixed term (without any notice) they will automatically become a periodic tenant and will have to give proper notice unless the landlord agrees to them leaving.

For more information on housing contract contact Student Housing team.


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