Student Tenancy Agreements: All You Need to Know

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding agreement between a landlord and the tenant(s). But what exactly do they involve and what should students look out for?

If you are looking to move into a student property, then the chances are that you will need to sign a tenancy agreement. If you haven’t heard of this before or you aren’t sure what a tenancy agreement entails, then this guide can provide you with all you need to know!

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding agreement between a landlord and tenants that states all the details regarding the renting of a property. Tenancy agreements are essential when looking to rent a student property, and you won’t be able to move in until you have signed the tenancy agreement.

Types of tenancy agreements

Most student rentals consist of shorthold tenancy agreements that usually cover a period of 12 months, however there are two main types of tenancy agreements that may be offered by the landlord.

The preferred option for most people is an individual contract between each tenant and the landlord. Under this type of agreement, each tenant is individually responsible for paying rent. This helps avoid situations where one tenant drops out and the other tenants are left to foot the rent.

The other main type is a joint tenancy agreement, which holds all tenants responsible for collectively paying rent. Under this agreement, if one tenant drops out, the other tenants will still be responsible for covering the missing rent.

Tenancy agreement small print (things to look for)

Man signing a student tenancy agreement

Contracts can be daunting documents to look at when they are first put in front of you, but it is so important that you read through them carefully and always check the small print! The most important things to look out for include the following:

  • Ensure that the start and end date of the agreement is clearly stated
  • Make sure all tenants names are included on the agreement in addition to the landlord, and make sure names are spelled correctly
  • Ensure the rent amount is what you have verbally agreed to and that the agreement clarifies who is liable to pay it
  • Double check the obligations and what you can and can’t do during the tenancy
  • Check that the property allows for general wear and tear

Remember, before you sign anything, always bring up any concerns you have with the landlord or estate agent. If anything needs repairing or replacing, it is a good idea to bring this up as soon as possible so that problems can be sorted before you move in. If any segment of the tenancy agreement doesn’t sit right with you, then raise the issue before you sign it.

Deposit protection schemes

Tenancy agreements will always require you to put down a deposit which is usually equivalent to around one month’s rent. Deposits are legally required to be registered with a deposit protection scheme within 30 days of the landlord receiving the deposit.

There are three different government approved deposit schemes in the UK which are: the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), MyDeposits, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). You should check to make sure your landlord is a part of one of these schemes.


Guarantors are a necessity for landlords when it comes to renting out properties to students. A guarantor, who is usually a parent or family member, is basically someone who will cover a tenant’s rent payments if they are unable to pay for whatever reason.

This is always included within the tenancy agreement, and it usually requires a signature from the person acting as a guarantor to confirm. If a tenant misses a rent payment, the landlord can legally chase up the guarantor for the money and can even take them to court if necessary.

Holiday periods

This will differ depending on the landlord, the property, and the agreement in place. Some landlords will accept half the rent if you are spending two of the summer months away from the property. Whether you are going off on holiday or just moving back home for the summer, it is worth checking whether a clause like this can be inserted in your tenancy agreement.

Some landlords will organise maintenance work for the property over holiday periods and may require you to leave the property for this period. It is always worth discussing this in advance so both you as a tenant and the landlord are clear on the situation.


Before any tenants move into a property, it is standard practice for the landlord to create an inventory. An inventory is basically a checklist that lists all the furniture within the property, and notes down any faults and damage that is already there before a tenant moves in.

Tenants then have the chance to go through the inventory and note down any damages they have spotted or any missing furniture. It is best to do this and check all the details of the inventory thoroughly so that no blame can be put on you for any unreported damage.

Agency fees

Agency fees usually involved paying a sum of money to the estate agency for references and the handing over of the keys. Thankfully, these fees are now banned in England, Scotland and Wales so tenants no longer have to incur these costs.

Holding deposits

A holding deposit usually makes up around one weeks rent and is paid to the estate agents. A holding deposit essentially reserves the property for you whilst contracts get signed and finalised. Estate agents are only allowed to accept one holding deposit per property, so once you have paid this amount the property will be exclusively reserved for you.


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