Student housing – assured shorthold tenants
Many students rent self-contained accommodation from private landlords.
If your tenancy began recently, and your landlord doesn’t share any accommodation with you, you are likely to have an assured shorthold tenancy.
This page summarises the key rights and responsibilities of assured shorthold tenants.
Most students who rent from a private landlord are assured shorthold tenants. You automatically have an assured shorthold tenancy if:
- your tenancy started on or after 28 February 1997, and
- you pay rent to a private landlord, and
- you don't share any accommodation with your landlord.
Assured shorthold tenants have a number of important rights. However, as long as your landlord follows the proper legal process, you can be evicted quite easily. You should bear this in mind before trying to enforce your rights. For example, some landlords may decide to evict a tenant rather than doing repair work which is being complained about.
Information about your tenancy
You have a right to a statement of the main terms of your tenancy. This includes the date it began, the rent due and when it must be paid, how and when the rent can be changed and the length of any fixed term.
You should be given a copy of the tenancy agreement before you move in, and it would normally include this information, but if it doesn't, you can ask for it in writing and your landlord must respond within 28 days.
It's always a good idea to ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement and to check it carefully before you sign it.
Your landlord’s name and address
Your landlord must provide a name and an address in England or Wales where you can write to them.
Protecting your tenancy deposit
Deposits paid on or after 6 April 2007 must be protected in a government-approved scheme and certain information must be provided to you. If the landlord or agent doesn’t do this, or doesn't do it within the required legal timescales, you can take legal action and your landlord may have to pay you compensation.
Living in your home undisturbed
You have the right to enjoy your home. This means that your landlord doesn’t have the right to enter your home unless you invite them in. It is against the law for your landlord to harass you or illegally evict you.
Your landlord or their agent does have the right to access your home to check any repair work needed and to carry out the repairs. Unless it’s an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours' notice in writing.
Repairs and safety in your home
You have the right to have repairs done. Your landlord is responsible for doing most repairs except very minor things, such as changing fuses. You should report any repairs to your landlord as soon as you notice them.
Your landlord also has certain responsibilities for gas and electrical safety, furnishings and asbestos.
If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) your landlord has to meet extra responsibilities around things like fire and general safety.
- More about your landlord’s repair responsibilities
- More about your landlord’s responsibilities for gas and electrical supplies
- More about what is an HMO and what it means to live in one
Your landlord can only evict you by serving notice and getting a possession order from the court. You have the right to stay in your home until the court bailiffs enforce that order and evict you. However, you may have to pay some of your landlord's legal costs if you do stay on after the notice has expired.
- More about evictions at www.gov.uk
If you have a fixed term tenancy
If you have a fixed term tenancy, for example, for twelve months, you don’t have to move out when that term ends. If you don’t sign a new agreement, your tenancy automatically becomes a ‘periodic’ assured shorthold tenancy. Periodic means that it runs from one rent period to the next. Your landlord can only evict you by serving notice and getting a possession order.
If you want to end your fixed term tenancy early, you can only do so if your tenancy agreement contains a break clause, or if your landlord agrees to you ending the tenancy early.
Your tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. As well as giving you legal rights, it also means that you have certain responsibilities.
Paying the rent
You must pay your rent otherwise your landlord can take legal action to evict you. Your tenancy agreement will normally state how much the rent is, what it includes, to whom it should be paid, when it should be paid and how it can be increased.
If you pay your rent weekly, your landlord must give you a rent book. If you don’t pay weekly and don't have a rent book, it's best to keep proof of your rent payments.
Looking after your home
You must use your home in a tenant-like way. This generally means:
- doing minor repairs yourself, such as changing fuses
- keeping your home reasonably clean
- not causing any damage to the property and making sure your visitors don’t
- using any fixtures and fittings properly.
Your tenancy agreement may also set out what your responsibilities are for repairs.
Reporting repairs is often a condition of your tenancy agreement, so you may be obliged to report any problems even if they seem quite small or if you’re not too concerned about getting them fixed.
You must give your landlord access to your home to carry out repairs.
The tenancy agreement
Your tenancy agreement may set out other obligations which you must keep to, for example, whether pets are allowed in your home. However, in line with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, your tenancy must not contain any terms which could be held to be unfair. A term may be unfair if it creates a 'significant imbalance' between you and your landlord.
- 'Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements’ - GOV.UK at www.gov.uk
- Using a letting agent
- Using a guarantor
- Deposits for private rented accommodation
- Sharing accommodation
Other useful information
- 'Assured shorthold tenancies: top tips for tenants' - GOV.UK at www.gov.uk
- Renting a home - NUS at www.nus.org.uk
- Gas safety for tenants - HSE at www.hse.gov.uk
- 'How to rent - The checklist for renting in England' – GOV.UK at www.gov.uk