What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
An assured shorthold tenancy (also known as an AST) is the most common type of tenancy and entitles a landlord to reposess control of their property immediately after the initial agreed period with the tenant, which is usually for minimum of six months.
The landlord at this point is therefore able to evict the tenant after the initial fixed term without a legal reason as long as a notice to leave has been served 2 months prior.
Most new tenancies are automatically this type, so if you’re looking to let out your property or have recently let it out, it’s likely that your tenants either have or will have an assured shorthold tenancy.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, you and your tenants should also have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, also known as an AST agreement or an AST contract. Here we look at what an assured shorthold tenancy is and what an assured shorthold tenancy agreement should look like.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies
Your tenancy will likely be an assured shorthold tenancy if:
- - The tenancy began on or after 15 January 1989
- - You’re a private landlord or housing association
- - The property is your tenant’s main form of accommodation
- - You don’t live in the property with your tenant
Crucially, it can’t be an assured shorthold tenancy if:
- - The tenancy began or was agreed before 15 January 1989
- - Your tenant pays above £100,000 a year in rent
- - The rent is under £250 per year (or £1,000 in London)
- - It’s either a holiday let, a business tenancy or a tenancy of licensed premises
- - You as the landlord are a local council.
An assured shorthold tenancy will usually last for either 6 or 12 months (but there is flexibility on this). In addition, it also gives the tenant a number of rights. All of these should be outlined in the assured shorthold tenancy agreement. If you’re unsure on any of these, you can get more information from the .GOV website and through charities such as Shelter.
The AST Agreement/ AST Contract
Both you and your tenant should sign the AST agreement prior to the tenancy commencing. The AST contract should tell both you and the tenant a number of things, including:
- - How much rent should be paid and how it should be paid
- - Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance in the property
- - How long the tenancy lasts and when it’s due to end
This then commits the tenant to paying the listed rent amount for the duration of the AST contract. However, in addition to this, the assured shorthold tenancy agreement also provides the tenant with a number of rights, too.
We’ll now take a more detailed look at what the AST agreement should include and what rights it gives both the tenant and the landlord.
Prior to the commencement of the tenancy, you should take a deposit from your tenant. This will cover you in case the tenant damages the property or fails to pay the rent. Again, the amount taken should be detailed in the AST agreement.
Once this has been provided, you must place the deposit in a government approved tenancy scheme and notify the tenant.
To document damage during the tenant’s stay, it’s recommended that you take an inventory of your rented home at the beginning of the tenancy, with both you and your tenant agreeing to it and signing a copy. This can prevent disputes at the end of the tenancy.
Repairs and Responsibilities
Within the assured shorthold tenancy agreement, it should clearly display the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant.
It varies between tenancies and contracts but, generally speaking, landlords are responsible for repairs while tenants are responsible for general upkeep. So, if the roof was leaking and it wasn’t caused by damage made by the tenant, the landlord would be responsible for repairs, whereas changing a lightbulb or unblocking a sink would be the responsibility of the tenant.
The End of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy
Your assured shorthold tenancy agreement will have an end date on it. When this is the case, it’s up for renewal and you have a number of options.
- You can ask your tenants whether they’d like another fixed term AST agreement. At this point, you have a right to increase the rent or change any terms.
- Ask your tenants to leave the property. You should give them fair notice for this to avoid disputes. This is usually a month.
- Allow your tenants to stay without signing a new AST contract. This is possible because, without a new AST contract being signed, the tenancy becomes periodic, rolling from month to month with the same rent.
Evicting a Tenant with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
If you’re looking to evict a tenant with an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, then you’ll need a court order, and there are also rules and procedures to follow before evicting a tenant. You can find these here.
Template Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement Form
As stated, if you’re renting out your home to someone, you really should have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement in writing. Although these vary from property to property, standard template forms are available, like this one on the Gov UK website which comes complete with guidance and explanations.
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