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Tenancy and lodger agreements

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A tenancy agreement is a contract between one or more individuals ('tenants') who pay an agreed sum to exclusively occupy property belonging to other individuals or businesses (the 'landlord'). It gives the tenants the right to occupy the property for a period of time, and the landlord the right to receive the rent among other rights and obligations of both landlord and tenants. For example, since the tenancy agreement also gives the tenants the right to 'exclusively occupy', they have the right to control who can come into the property.

The difference between a tenancy and some other form of agreement isn't always straightforward. Even if the agreement isn't called a tenancy agreement it may, in fact, be one – for example, a tenancy will exist if a tenant has the exclusive use of one room (such as a bedroom), but shares all the other accommodation.

Written versus oral agreements

The tenancy agreement can be oral; but it's better to have a written agreement so that the terms of the tenancy are clear to both parties. In England & Wales, it's also easier to end the tenancy if you have a written agreement.

In Northern Ireland if you are creating a fixed-term tenancy of more than 1 year, or in England & Wales for 3 years, you must provide a written tenancy agreement.

In Scotland you must provide your tenant with a written agreement. If you do not, the tenant can apply to the First-tier Tribunal to be given one.

Types of tenancy agreement

The type of tenancy you can set up will depend on where the property is located.

This section covers the types of tenancy you can set up depending on whether the property is located in England & Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

Note however that this guide only covers tenancies with a private landlord and not social or public tenancies.

What is the law guide

The Desktop Lawyer law guide aims to present the law to you in a comprehensive yet jargon-free and easy-to-read format. Our law guide is constantly kept up to date with changes in business and family law by our team of in house solicitors, and includes information across all the legal jurisdictions in the UK.

Our law guide is free to use. Where we provide documents related to this area of law, or where they may help you with any legal issue in this area, they will be listed to the right of this message.

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