The paperwork can feel like one of the most daunting aspects about taking on a tenancy and although it can feel like there is lots of information, the information is there to protect you and help your tenancy go well.


Before signing into the contract you may need to apply to book or ‘hold’ your accommodation before being given your contract. As this stage nothing is legally binding, and this is more of an administrative step and to help the landlord or agent check that you are able to rent and to prepare the contract. They will also need to check your identity so you will need to provide ID.


Before renting out a room or a property, private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of the applicant. You have the right to rent if any of the following apply:

  • you're a British or EEA citizen
  • you have indefinite leave to remain or settled status
  • you have refugee status or humanitarian protection  
  • you have permission to be in the UK, for example, on a work or student visa
  • the Home Office has granted you a time limited right to rent  


Landlords now need to provide the following at the outset of a tenancy:

  • Latest version of the government’s How to rent: The checklist for renting in England
  • Confirmation that your deposit has been protected along with the prescribed information for the deposit scheme
  • Up to date Gas Safety Certificate
  • Valid Energy Performance Certificate
  • Electrical Safety Certificate for new tenancies created from 1 July 2020 and all tenancies from 1 April 2021
  • Privacy notice in line with GDPR
  • Valid HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) licence, if applicable

Exeter City Council have created a handy Checklist which shows what your landlord needs to do before your tenancy begins.


This will usually be a member of your family living in the UK who will sign a contract agreeing to cover your financial obligations for the tenancy if you fail to do so. If you have a joint tenancy where a guarantor is present the landlord should ask them first before the other tenants.

If you do not have anyone UK based to act as a guarantor then you will have to negotiate with the landlord. Some landlords may insist that you pay all the rent in advance; this is often the case for our international students. If you are not happy with the terms offered, do not sign up to the terms. If you do have a guarantor it would be wise to ensure that their contract is just for your share of the costs, particularly if you have a joint tenancy with your housemates.


There are companies that will act as Guarantor. As we are here to give impartial advice, we are unable to recommend or endorse a particular company, but an internet search will bring up some options for you. If you are still struggling, please email or submit an enquiry.