Residential tenancy law in England and Wales is regulated mainly by the various Housing Acts. These Acts provide the legal framework on which residential tenancies are based. They provide extensive information relating to the regulation of Landlords and Tenants, the rules and procedures involved in tenancy law, as well as providing statutory protection to both Landlords and Tenants on matters such as termination of tenancy, eviction, possession rights, rent increases and rent arrears.
There are the following types of residential tenancies:
With residential tenancies, the Tenant is granted the exclusive use and possession of the Landlord's property in exchange for the payment of rent.
In order for a tenancy to come into effect, it is not necessary for the terms of the agreement between the Landlord and the Tenant to be recorded in writing (although this is always advisable). As soon as it becomes evident from the conduct of the parties that a tenancy has been created (i.e. once the Tenant has obtained possession of the property and the Landlord is accepting rent payments from the Tenant) it will become legally binding on the parties.
The tenancy may be either for a fixed term or it may be a periodic tenancy. A fixed term tenancy is where the tenancy is granted for a specific length of time, e.g. 12 months. A periodic tenancy is where there is no specified length of time involved but the tenancy will carry on for additional specific periods, usually determined by the frequency of rental payments, e.g. monthly or quarterly. A fixed term tenancy will automatically turn into a periodic tenancy once the specific length of time has expired, unless the parties reach a new agreement or terminate the tenancy.
Where more than one Tenant occupies the Landlord's property, it is standard procedure for all the adult residents to sign the Tenancy Agreement, with each Tenant being jointly and severally liable. This means that where one or more of the Tenant's default with payments and/or cause damage to the property, the Landlord need not proceed against each Tenant separately for their pro-rate share, but may proceed against just one of the Tenants for the entire outstanding balance. It is then up to this Tenant to claim from the other Tenants their pro-rata shares.