Tenancies and terms

Tenancy agreements

Contracts or tenancy agreements can be lengthy, and it might seem like a lot of effort to go through the whole document in detail, but it is definitely worth it in the long run. You should be aware of the obligations you may be signing up to, and also look out for terms that you think are unbalanced against you.

If you have a joint tenancy, you will all sign the same contract (tenancy agreement). You will each be jointly and individually responsible for the whole of the rent and/or damage to the property. This means, for example, that if one of your co-tenants left the property and stopped paying rent, your landlord could choose to pursue you or any of the remaining tenants for the shortfall in rent.

Visit the Shelter webpage on types of renting agreement to understand your tenancy type. 

Tenancy dates

You will normally sign a tenancy agreement for a fixed term - in student tenancies in Bristol this is usually for a year. Be aware that once you have signed, you are obligated to pay rent for the whole of the fixed term. Different agreements have different clauses about what to do if a tenant wants to leave early and it is not always possible for a tenant to leave an agreement early and escape their rental liability. Even where it is allowed, this would usually only be if a suitable replacement tenant is found to take your place. The replacement would need to be suitable both for the landlord and for the remaining tenants.

Find out more about leaving a fixed term tenancy early on the Shelter website. 


A guarantor is a person who agrees to pay rent or damages if the tenant does not make payment. Guarantors are required by most letting agencies and some landlords.

For students, this is often parents or guardians but this can be difficult for international students and staff as most agents require your guarantor to be UK based.

Housing Hand offers a thorough guarantor service.  A discount on Housing Hand's fees is available to University of Bristol students who apply from this page.

Some agencies or landlords will not accept a guarantor from Housing Hand. Alternatively, you might be asked to provide a rent payment of 6 months or a full year in advance.

Right to rent

Before allowing you to move into a room or a property, private landlords and agents are legally required to check your immigration status to ensure that you have a right to rent in the UK. This could involve an online or manual check. You may be required to apply for a share code online or you may need to provide a copy of your passport or visa to prove your right to rent. If you can’t access the relevant documents there may need to be a Home Office check. If you are applying for accommodation from abroad, the landlord can arrange the tenancy in advance but will need to obtain evidence you have the right to rent before you move into the property. You can view full information on Right to Rent on the government right to rent webpages and on the Shelter right to rent webpages.

Landlord rent reference

Before you move in, your landlord or letting agent might ask you to provide a rent reference. If you are a current student and have lived in University accommodation, we can provide you with a rent reference.

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