Quick guide to tenancies

Tenancy Quick Guide

When renting in the private sector, it may be a formal agreement with written contracts, or it may be more casual. The governing laws are still the same.

Here are some of the questions asked most often:

What is a Tenancy?

A tenancy is a legal interest in land where an occupier has the exclusive possession of premises for a period of time and pays rent.

What information must you provide at the start of a tenancy?

  • The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Gas Safety Certificate (if applicable)
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme details (if applicable)
  • How to Rent Guide.

Failure to give these can result in invalidating a Notice to Quit!

Important things to know


A property must have an EPC of at least band E to be legally rented. If the property can not reach band E an exemption must be sought. A landlord could receive a penalty for this. Where there is no EPC at all, a Section 21 notice to quit is not valid.

Eviction notices

There is a strict legal procedure to follow. This includes the correct paperwork, followed by court proceedings (the notice to quit date is not when occupiers have to leave). Only a court appointed bailiff with a warrant can end legal occupation. The most common notice to quit is a Section 21.

Section 21

This is the ‘No Fault’ eviction notice. A landlord needs no reason to serve this. Tenancies starting after October 2015, must use form 6a. Tenancies starting before October 2015 do not need to use this form. The end date is not when an occupier has to leave. The court process after the notice date must be followed. A Section 21 is a mandatory notice for possession. This means a guaranteed possession order from the judge.

Section 8

This notice is reason based on specific legal grounds. For example, for rent arrears. The court requires proven evidence of the grounds.

Rent Increases

A landlord must use the official 'Section 13' rent increase form. A rent increase is an agreement not a demand and both parties can counter until an agreed amount is settled on. If there is no agreement, then a first tier tribunal application can be made. Rent increases can only happen once a year and cannot be back dated. A 5% increase is the normal but that can depend on the circumstances particular to the case.

Repair works

A tenant must always inform the landlord/agent if there are any repairs needed. If the work falls within the landlord’s duties and they do not action repairs, it could leave the tenants exposed to serious hazards. Private Sector Housing (PSH) work to ensure that private rented properties are in a good state of repair and are safe for occupants to live in. If repairs are serious enough that a tenant must move out during the work, they are entitled to an abatement of their rent.

Retaliatory Eviction

If a tenant has put in writing concerns of disrepair to the landlord and at a later stage an Improvement Notice is served, the landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 for 6 months. Any notice to quit served after the complaint may also be invalid.

If a dwelling is sold

If the tenant is still in situ, the new owner becomes the new landlord. If it’s sold whilst a tenant is under notice, the new owner would need to continue the legal eviction process if required.

What if there is no written agreement

Where there is no written agreement, it all falls to statutory law. Where there is a written agreement that is far from tenancy law, for example, calling the occupation a ‘license’ when in fact it is a tenancy, statutory law will override.

Renting from a family member

Where rent is paid and there is exclusive occupation of the property, a tenancy has been created. The correct lawful process must be followed to end the tenancy. 
Rent includes cash, Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

Tenancy deposits

Deposits are not mandatory. If paid they must be placed in one of the 3 schemes:

  • Deposit Protection Service
  • MyDeposits - including deposits held by Capita
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Deposits must be registered within 30 days and the details given to the tenants. Not doing so will result in a landlord being unable to use a Section 21 notice for possession.

For further guidance on these, visit:

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