You will normally be given an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) where the landlord does not live in the property with their tenants, this form of agreement is called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). ASTs can apply to joint or individual tenancies. ASTs give you certain rights during the letting period, especially with regards to notice periods. You also have statutory rights and common law rights to protect you. Your AST will be either an individual or joint agreement, it’s important to understand the difference.
With this tenancy you are only responsible for your own rent and any deposit you have paid. If another tenant doesn’t pay rent or damages the property, your landlord cannot ask you to cover their costs. You have exclusive possession of your bedroom and shared access to common areas.
If you rent a property with a group of friends, this is likely to be a joint tenancy. Each person named on the tenancy agreement is jointly and individually responsible for the rent for the whole property and any other tenancy conditions. For example, if one of your co-tenants leaves the property and stops paying rent, your landlord is entitled to collect the rent owed from the remaining tenants.
If you live in the same house as the owner and share facilities, then you have a resident landlord. As their tenant, you are an 'excluded occupier'. Excluded occupiers have limited rights compared to Assured Shorthold tenants. For instance, your landlord can give you 28 days’ notice to leave a property at any time. If you do share with a resident landlord it is very important you both understand the 'house rules' to avoid conflict, for example when it is appropriate to have guests to stay, or when to switch the heating on.
Any deposits paid to a landlord or agent by an Assured Shorthold tenant (most students in shared rented accommodation) are protected under a government authorised deposit scheme. Within 30 days of paying the deposit, your landlord or agent must give you details of how your deposit will be protected. If your landlord fails to protect your deposit they lose the right to automatically gain possession by giving two months' notice, and the County Court can order them to pay you three times the amount of the deposit. Make an inventory of the property when you move in. This can help avoid disputes about deductions from your deposit at the end of your lease.
Further information on the tenancy deposit scheme on the GOV UK website. Also, Coventry Law Centre can help people whose landlord has not protected their deposit.