When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Key terms in a tenancy agreement

Tenancy agreements are a legal contract. Make sure you read the agreement before you sign it.

Here are some issues your tenancy agreement should deal with.

Property and contact details

Make sure that your tenancy agreement includes

  • the address of the property
  • your name and the name of any other tenants
  • the landlord’s name, address and contact details
  • the name, address and contact details of any agent that the landlord is using
  • an inventory, or list of items in the property with the condition of each clearly marked.

Length of the tenancy

The tenancy agreement should explain

  • how long the tenancy will last
  • whether the tenancy will renew automatically
  • how much notice must be given in order to end the tenancy
  • what you and your landlord's responsibilities are.

Rent, rates and other payments

Your contract should tell you

  • how much the rent is and how often it is due
  • when and how you should pay rent
  • if you are responsible for paying rates on the property
  • if rates are included in the rent or you have to pay these on top of rent
  • if you have to make any other payments on top of rent and rates.

Your deposit

The tenancy agreement should have information about your deposit. It should say

  • how much the deposit is
  • what charges the landlord can take from your deposit
  • when you will get your deposit back
  • which scheme the landlord will use to protect your deposit.

Repairs information

Your tenancy agreement should include information about repairs. It should say

  • which repairs are the landlord’s responsibility
  • which repairs are the tenant’s responsibility
  • how the tenant should report any problems, including an emergency number
  • what happens if you do not report problems to the landlord.

The law says who is responsible for repairs if your tenancy agreement does not. Contact our helpline if you aren't sure who is responsible for repairs in your tenancy. 

Use of the property

Your tenancy agreement might say what you can and cannot do at the property. Some tenancy agreements might say

  • you have to be respectful of your neighbours
  • you are, or are not, allowed to rent rooms to other people
  • you need permission before you can decorate.
  • you need the landlord's permission to have a pet.

These terms have to be fair. It might be unfair for a term to say "no pets" without giving you an opportunity to ask the landlord's permission.

Your landlord's right to enter your home

Your tenancy agreement might explain when the landlord, or an agent, can enter your home.  It might say

  • how much notice the landlord has to give before they can visit
  • that you have to agree to let viewers into your home if the landlord markets it for sale or rent.

Unless there's an emergency you should get at least 24 hours' notice before any visit.

You have to let your landlord, or their agent or contractor into your home as long as,

  • you got at least 24 hours' notice, and
  • the visit is at a reasonable time of day, and
  • the visit is to do an inspection or to make repairs.

Other terms to look out for

Joint tenants often have a term that says the tenancy is on a "joint and several" basis. This means you are responsible for

  • your own actions, and
  • the actions of the other people in the tenancy.

This term means you have to pay your roommate's rent if they do not.