When you decide to rent a property, you’ll be asked to sign a contract called a Tenancy Agreement. The type of tenancy you’ll be entering into is usually an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, which has a fixed term (i.e. a specified start and end date). It's usually either a 12 month or 9 month contract.
Remember the contract is legally binding once signed and very difficult – often impossible – to get out of if you later change your mind. You remain bound to the contract even if you drop out of Uni, can’t afford the rent or fall out with prospective housemates.
There are two kinds of contract in shared houses – joint and individual. Most landlords will offer you a joint contract (where you all sign the same contract) in the first instance – this means that you’d share liability with your housemates for the whole property’s rent (i.e. if a housemate didn’t pay their share of the rent then you might have to pay for them). For this reason, we suggest insisting on individual contracts (where you each sign your own individual contracts) if you don’t want to risk sharing liability. Under individual contracts, you are liable for your own rent only, no-one else’s.
If you’re about to sign a new contract, we strongly recommend getting it checked at the LTSU Student Welfare Service first. Our trained Adviser can check the contract for unusual, unfair or illegal terms, check out the background of the property and landlord / managing agent, and make sure that you understand what implications the contract has for you. This is a really useful service , especially for students signing a contract for a house for the first time.
A Unipol Code landlord must, upon request, allow you at least 24 hours to take a copy of the contract away to get it checked (and hold the property for you for that time) before you sign it – so use this time to get it checked. The Student Welfare Service has a drop-in every Tuesday & Thursday 11am – 2pm (term time), and has additional special contract checking surgeries during House Hunting Season. Alternatively you can contact Student Welfare to make an appointment for a different time.