Tenancy advice

As a tenant there are certain responsibilities which fall on you, much like there is with your landlord or letting agent. 

During your tenancy

It is important to understand that your time living in your accommodation should be as enjoyable as possible. With so much to think about from collecting your keys, arranging a moving van, setting up bills and knowing which day your recycling is collected, we suggest you look at our flowchart.

The way in which you treat your landlord/agency during your time at the property will play a part in deciding whether they allow you renew your tenancy, provide you with a reference or even the speed at which they return your deposit. Always act friendly, polite and professional.

There may be occasions where you become frustrated with your landlord/agency for whatever reason. Remember that every scenario is different and governed by its own unique circumstances and you can always contact the USL team for impartial advice.

Living with a resident landlord

If you are living with a resident landlord, you are a lodger and not a tenant. Therefore a very different set of rules apply.

We strongly advisable that you understand what your rights and responsibilities are as a lodger. Be aware that a resident landlord does not need to protect any deposit monies you pay. If you are unable to agree a refund amount at the end then you will have to pursue the resident landlord through the small claims court. This is often costly and not a practical solution.

A resident landlord does not require a possession order to evict you and can give you as little as 24 hours' notice to vacate your accommodation. Make sure that you have a signed agreement in place with the landlord to offer you a level of protection and that you have discussed all the house rules before you sign up and move in.

Ending your tenancy

You should notify your agency or landlord at least two months before your contract is due to end that you will not be staying on. Good practice would suggest that you notify them at least three months in advance.

For many tenants the moving out process can be almost as stressful as moving in with so many different aspects to think about. You should take a moment to review our flowchart for practical advice on the steps you should take to make this a seamless process.

Preparing to move out

  • Notify your utility providers (including the council) about your vacating date: you must provide final meter readings and a forwarding address
  • Read your inventory/check in as you must leave the property and items in the same condition
  • Agree cleaning arrangements, the whole house is responsible to ensure that all rooms and communal areas are cleaned, don’t forget about the garden
  • Agree with the landlord/agency who will represent the household regarding the deposit return


The household most likely paid a six-week deposit at the start of the tenancy and no doubt you will be keen to have the amount returned in full. Ensure you are proactive and have a good understanding of the timeframe and process involved with getting your money back.

There are three government-approved tenancy deposit schemes:

Each of these schemes have their own processes and prescribed information which outlines how deposit disputes are dealt with. You should always try to resolve any disputes with your landlord/agent first as the scheme may not rule in your favour and therefore leave you out of pocket if they find you are in the wrong.

Landlord ending your tenancy

If you want to stay on but your landlord does not wish to renew your tenancy they must issue notice in the form of a Section 21 notice. If you receive one of these contact the USL team to ensure it has been issued correctly as there is certain legal requirements for this document.

A landlord cannot evict you from a property nor are they allowed to change the locks without a possession order. Bailiffs (enforcement officers) are the only ones who should execute this order. If you are ever faced with such a situation it is advisable that you contact USL or the university security office 01483 682002 (out of hours) who can confirm if this is legitimate.

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University of Surrey Lettings (USL)
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University of Surrey