When to Sign a Tenancy Agreement

Updated: July 9, 2018

I’m often asked by our landlords and tenant’s alike when to sign a tenancy agreement.  We’ve been working on a number of new tenancy agreements this week and we have a few excited tenants who’ll be moving home over what is predicted to be an ‘Indian summer‘ weekend.

Landlord handing keys over to tenants having known when to sign a tenancy agreement.

As soon as references have passed, we’d recommend this as a good time when to sign a tenancy agreement.

Before I’ve explained the pros and cons of when to sign a tenancy agreement, most landlords I talk to either sign the day before the start date or on the actual day of the tenant moving in.

In my opinion, leaving it to the last minute to secure the tenancy is a little too to risky for me.

Secure a tenancy in advance

Most tenants are required to give their current landlord a minimum of 4 weeks notice to vacate the property.  Before they do that, they usually try to find a property to rent to move to first before notifying the current landlord.

Once a property that is suitable has been found, they then start the application and the tenant referencing process will begin.  At this point, the tenant usually notifies their current landlord that they wish to move on and ask if they would provide a landlords’ reference.

As the new landlord you would be confident that the references are underway and your property is removed from the market as ‘Let Agreed’.

Referencing a tenant usually only takes around 3 – 4 working days.  We would obtain a previous landlords reference, an employment reference and a 6 year financial credit check.  Once the references are back and both parties are keen to progress, at this point we would draft up a tenancy agreement.

Best time when to sign a tenancy agreement

In the scenario above, the tenants are now looking to move in a few weeks time and the tenancy agreement has been drafted.   If the references are positive and it’s all green lights, I’d recommend to get your tenancy agreement signed as soon as possible.

Once the tenant and landlord signs the tenancy agreement it becomes far more difficult for either party to withdraw.  Without having a signed agreement, the tenant could withdraw anytime before the start date leaving you with weeks of lost rental income.

In terms of the first month’s rent and deposit funds, this can be paid to the landlord or agent either the day before or on the day of handover.   We always seek to have cleared funds in our client account at least 24 hours before the start day of the agreement.

Using digital tenancy agreements

Here at lettingaproperty.com we use a digital tenancy agreement that can be signed by all parties in a matter of minutes.

For new tenancies and renewals, we aim to have the agreements signed by all parties as soon as we have agreed a move in date or an extension of renewal.   This means that our landlords have peace of mind and a tenant secured.

We offer a digital tenancy agreement service within our Rent Collection, Guaranteed Rent and Rent on Time plans or we can provide a standalone tenancy agreement drafting service.

If you would like some assistance in drafting your next tenancy agreement, please call us on 0333 577 8888 – we’d be happy to help!

When to Sign a Tenancy Agreement
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When to Sign a Tenancy Agreement
When to sign a tenancy agreement? Asked by landlords and tenants alike, should you sign the tenancy agreement before the tenancy start date?
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  1. Beatrice Marwick July 4, 2018 at 4:33 pm #

    I signed the tenancy agreement and paid rent in advance plus deposit, a month before moving in day. The agency says they will not sign the agreement until the day of moving in because there is a tenant already in there! This seems ridiculous, and I cannot order furniture or get the utilities changed over, or many other things, because I have no signed tenancy agreement. (signed by the agency or landlord) Is there a law saying that they must give it to me as soon as I have signed and paid? Or can they just decide when to sign and give it to me, regardless of the inconvenience. thank you if you can advise.


    • Jonathan Daines July 9, 2018 at 10:32 am #

      Hi Beatrice, I can imagine this must be frustrating for you! Without knowing the full details I am only able to presume that as there is a current tenant who is signed into an agreement already, the agency is reluctant to sign a new tenant before the existing agreement comes to an end. Should the current tenant decide to stay and not hand the keys back to the agent, then you can imagine that they would be in a difficult situation with both you and the existing tenant running 2 agreements etc… On a side note, make sure you get confirmation from the agent that they have secured your deposit – they have 30 days to do so. I wish you the best with your move.


  2. Larissa June 27, 2018 at 7:34 am #

    Good morning, I’m letting a studio flat and I’m having trouble with the agent.
    In my opinion the agent is managing in very unprofessional way the situation, but I couldn’t do anything… I would like to know is it is normal and legal that the estate agent will give me the contract to sign for my letting only the day before the tenancy start as I already payed the rent and the deposit.
    I asked to have the key of the flat early in the morning the day that the tenancy will start because I’m in trouble with my job and I cannot have day off or any hour permission and he replied me that I only can have the key after 12 pm the morning or even later because of the paperwork…Is it normal and legal?
    I use to be a real estate in my country and the way to manage is quite different, I can understand that different countries have different rules and laws, however I think that this kind of job has to be done to help people and not to put them in trouble…
    Am I wrong? I will really appreciate your sincere answer and any kind of suggestions. Thank you for your help.
    Have a good day,


    • Jonathan Daines June 28, 2018 at 1:57 pm #

      Hi Larissa, thanks for your question. To my knowledge there is nothing “illegal” (perhaps just not best practice) about sending you the agreement to review a day before the start date – this happens regularly when time is of the essence and the agent is under pressure to have agreements signed from both parties. You do have to have ‘reasonable time’ to review the agreement before signing. If it is not too late, make sure you read through the agreement carefully before signing and if you have any questions about the terms you should a) direct them to the agent for clarification or b) contact https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ or c) seek legal advice from a solicitor. I hope it all works out for you.


  3. Lucia Soneira Varela May 12, 2018 at 9:04 am #

    Hi Katleen, I’d like to ask if it is normal to sign a tenancy agreement without seeing the property you want to rent. The landlord of the property asked me to do it even before agreeing a viewing. It doesn’t sound right to me at all and I am not willing to sign any document without seeing what I am renting. What do you think? Thank you, Lucia


    • Jonathan Daines June 28, 2018 at 2:01 pm #

      Don’t do it! Never give money over or sign an agreement until you have visited the property.


  4. Kathleen Pearson December 19, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

    Can I ask how you would proceed in the event that the tenant did not pay the deposit and first months rent by the tenancy commencement date? With a signed and dated tenancy agreement the tenant would seemingly be in a position to commence occupation of the property regardless wouldn’t they?


    • Jonathan Daines December 24, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

      Hi Kathleen, if the tenant hasn’t paid any money towards the tenancy then I would suggest that it would be difficult to enforce the agreement as no consideration has been received. Hope it worked out in the end?



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