Negotiating a Tenancy Agreement
Landlords/letting agents do not have a standard or model contract which they are required to use. If there are aspects of the tenancy agreement you are unhappy with you can ask that it is changed.
Agreeing to sign a contract is a two-way process between you and the landlord/letting agent.
You do not need to accept what you are being offered as the proposed terms are all negotiable. Landlords/letting agent are more likely to accept changes closer to the start of the academic year rather than risk leaving a property empty. You can negotiate yourself a good deal.
When and who to Negotiate with?
You need to negotiate BEFORE signing a housing contract. Once you have signed the contract you have agreed to abide by all terms within it. It becomes a lot more difficult, if not impossible to negotiate after you sign.
If you are signing a contract through a letting agent, you need to start negotiating with them. If negotiating with the letting agent does not work, you should contract the landlord directly and negotiate with them instead.
What can you Negotiate?
- Rent - If you think that the rent is too high, research similar properties in the area and compare them. Mention your concerns to the landlord/letting agent, as it could influence them to adjust the rent so that it is in line with the market. If the contract involves monthly rental payments, you can offer to pay termly in advance to get a reduced rent. This might help landlords with their cash flow.
- Rent payment dates - If the rent payment dates does not align with your student finance or other sources of income you can try to renegotiate the payment schedule.
- The length of contract - You are responsible to pay the rent for the full fixed term. You may want to renegotiate what this fixed term is, normally it is 12 months, but you may want 9 or 10 months if you will not be living in the property over summer. As an example, if you are paying £80 a week and you renegotiate the term to 9 months instead of 12, you could save over £1,000. Equally, you might want to include a break clause which allows a tenancy to be terminated before the end of the fixed term.
- Type of contract - If you are renting a property in a group, you can avoid joint and several liability for the whole rent of the property if the landlord agrees to grant you each a tenancy for your own room. If this is the case, you would only be liable for your rent.
- Inclusive/Non-inclusive bills - If you have inclusive bills, it is a good idea to make sure that you have a clear understanding of what the terms around inclusive bills are. Is there a cap? Are you liable for bills more than the cap? Will the difference be refunded? If you are not happy with the terms regarding inclusive bills, you can attempt to negotiate these aspects of the contract.
- Garden maintenance - Be sure to know who is responsible for maintenance in the garden. If it is your responsibility, will you be provided with the tools?
- Landlord to maintain and repair electrical appliances - Check the landlord’s obligations regarding repairs in the contract and if necessary, negotiate to add the following: “The landlord agrees to keep in repair and proper working the electrical appliances supplied by the landlord, including fridge, freezer etc”.
- Anything else - If you would like to negotiate any other aspect of the contract, this should happen as soon as possible.
Make sure anything you agree is put in writing.
It is essential that any changes you have negotiated are written into the contract to avoid any future issues regarding proving what was agreed on.
Last Updated: 28th September 2023