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Contracts and negotiations

When thinking about renting private accommodation, it is important to carefully read your tenancy agreement and to ensure you are aware of the terms and conditions of your contract.

Types of tenancy agreement

You will normally be required to sign a written tenancy agreement in order to secure the accommodation. There are two types of written agreement:

Assured shorthold tenancy

This is the standard agreement used to let whole properties for a fixed period. It can be used for either individual or joint tenancies.

A joint tenancy is where the landlord provides one agreement for a whole property, which is signed by a group of people. Each person is jointly responsible for meeting the terms of the tenancy in full, including paying the rent. If one joint tenant leaves the property before the end of the tenancy, the remaining tenants are liable to pay the full rent.

Licence to occupy (Lodger agreement)

An agreement where exclusive possession is not granted. This is usually used for Resident Landlord accommodation.

The tenancy agreement should include:

  • How much and when rent should be paid and what it includes
  • Length of the agreement. It is usual for contracts to be fixed term for either ten or twelve months
  • The terms of notice. A clear statement of whether students can or can not give notice and move out early. Also any related conditions such as continuing to pay rent. 

If you are not provided with a written tenancy agreement you must ensure you understand the terms on which the property is offered. You should then ask for a written copy of these arrangements. For Resident Landlord accommodation there may be house rules which you should check. For example, use of telephone, visitors, meal times and curfew.

An agreement to move in and pay for the accommodation will create a legal tenancy and will impose certain legal responsibilities on both yourself and the Landlord – even when there is no written agreement. It is, therefore, very important to be clear on your rights and responsibilities before taking the accommodation. It may be difficult to be released from a contract if you change your mind and want to move out.


If you do choose to rent from a private landlord or go through a letting agency, you may be asked to provide a guarantor. A guarantor is an individual who agrees to pay costs should you be unable to pay your rent or utility bills for the duration of your tenancy.

The guarantor must be over 18, in full-time employment and a UK resident. If you do not have a guarantor, you may be asked to pay in advance, either a portion (usually three–six months) or the full amount of your rent.

Overseas guarantor

Overseas students need a UK-based, over 18 years old, employed homeowner. If an overseas student does not have a UK-based guarantor they can pay the rent for the full period up front.

Alternatively, you can use UK Guarantor, which is a service for international students. They act as your UK based guarantor if you are coming to study in the UK. This means that you can pay your rent in instalments rather than in advance.


It is usual for your landlord to ask for a returnable deposit equivalent to one month’s rent or up to six weeks' rent. This is held against damages and you should always obtain a receipt stating clearly the amount paid and the date the landlord received it.

At the end of the tenancy, if the landlord retains the deposit in part or full, a written list of damages and costs should be provided. You are entitled to ask to see receipts for work done.

View further information on the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme or watch this Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme tips film for students.


It is strongly recommended that an inventory is completed when you move into a property. All parties should sign the inventory to confirm the condition of the property when you move in. It is a good idea to note or photograph any existing damage. Both you and the Landlord should keep a copy of the signed inventory.


For independent advice about anything mentioned on this page, The Students’ Union Advice Centre can help:

Accommodation documents

Helpful information to support your time in University accommodation. Includes guides to keeping the peace and accommodating each other. View accommodation documents.

Learn more about UWE Bristol accommodation

Get in touch with our Accommodation enquiries.

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