Contracts are legally binding documents, ensuring both parties are clear as to the others’ responsibilities. Most contracts are for a fixed term of 9 to 12 months. If you have a longer contract, you may wish to request that a “break clause” be inserted into the contract.

Joint vs individual tenancies

Often students with an AST sign one contract with everyone’s names included. This means you are individually and jointly liable for the cost and state of the property

You could negotiate individual tenancies leaving you liable for the rent in your room only, but still jointly responsible for the shared rooms (e.g. kitchen) and all of the household bills.

Types of contract

Licence Agreement

If you live with a live-in landlord or a member of his/her family, it is likely you will have a Licence Agreement. Key aspects of this contract type are:

  • Your deposit does not have to be protected in a scheme
  • The landlord can enter your room without giving notice
  • The landlord does not have to go to court to evict you, but would be expected to give you reasonable notice

Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST)

This is a fixed term agreement between the landlord and tenant either individually or as a group. There are various clauses within the contract that both the landlord and the tenant(s) must abide by. The main obligations are:


Pay the rent on time and in the manner specified


Let you live in the property free from harassment (the landlord has to give reasonable (usually 24 hours) notice if he wishes to enter the property)


Keep the property clean and in good condition


To protect the security deposit in one of the government schemes


Not cause a noise nuisance

To insure the building and the landlord’s contents (the landlord will not insure your belongings).


Report any repairs or damage as soon as they occur (the landlord cannot be held responsible until they are informed)

To carry out repairs within a reasonable time unless it is found to be the tenant’s neglect or misuse


Return the property in the same condition as it was when you moved in (less fair wear and tear)

Summary of the table's contents