Guide to tenancy agreements
Whatever the type of property you rent you'll be asked to sign a contract. Here's some information on the main types of agreement you'll encounter as a tenant.
The Different Types of Tenancy Agreements:
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
Assured Shorthold Tenancies are the most common form of rental in the UK when the landlord doesn't live in the property - it's the default agreement if you don't specify another type when letting your property. An Assured Shorthold Tenancy allows the landlord or tenant to end the tenancy after an initial six month period, by giving notice to quit.
If you rent a house or flat in the UK this is the form of tenanct you'll probably end up with. ASTs (for short) are the only type of tenancy the Tenancy Deposit Scheme currently applies to.
These aren't so common any more - they're usually only issued by housing trusts and assiciations. Basically, unless you break the terms of your agreement, you can stay in an Assured Tenancy property as long as you like. This was the main reason for the switch to ASTs as they give the landlord more reasonable rights to evict tenants.
Taking in a lodger has fewer legal requirements than letting a whole property. However, if you're going to live with your landlord we'd always recommend you get something in writing as it'll protect you both and give you a basis for reference should any disagreement arise.
Under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, landlords wanting to claim money from their tenants' deposits now have to prove that damage has been caused. This means every tenancy agreement should now be accompanied by a property inventory that details everything in the flat (as well as the condition it's in).