Landlord tenant

Assured Shorthand Tenancies & Disputes

Every sensible buy-to-let landlord should make sure their tenant signs up to an official contract before they move in. That even applies if your property is being rented out to a friend or family member, as it legally protects both of you.

The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) is by far the most common type of contract used in the UK’s private rental sector.

An AST sets out in writing the rights and responsibilities of the tenants and the landlord. It is a legally-binding agreement, laying out the length of the tenure, the amount of rent and when it is payable and whether or not pets are allowed, for example.

If a tenancy began on or after 28 February 1997, it is likely to be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Confusingly enough, tenancies starting before that date but after 15 January 1989, are more likely to be Assured Tenancies.

An AST should be used where you are renting a property to just either one person, or a couple or group of people who know one another. Under an AST they have ‘joint and several liability’, which means that if one party does not pay the rent, the others have to make up the difference – they are not just responsible for their own share.

The agreements are not suitable if you want to rent to a number of tenants separately, for example if they are strangers and have different rates to pay, or the rent is over £100,000 per year.

How long can the agreement last for?

An AST can be drawn up for any period of time of six months or more.  You may unofficially agree that the tenant will stay for less than six months but beware – they have the right to stay for six months once the AST is signed.

At the end of the term if the tenancy agreement is not renewed, it then becomes what is known as a Statutory Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. The terms of the original tenancy agreement still apply, but the tenancy continues on an agreed period by period basis.

Whether your agreement is for a fixed term or statutory, you still have to give the tenant two months’ notice to quit.


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