The overwhelming majority of private landlords in the UK use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement – or AST – to let out their residential properties.
ASTs are governed by the Housing Act 1988, which offers buy-to-let investors the following legal protection…
- ASTs are usually issued for six or 12 months, which gives landlords the opportunity to decide whether or not to renew the agreement at the end of the fixed period.
- Landlords can evict a tenant after an initial fixed term of six months without a legal reason. If a landlord decides not to renew the tenancy, they need to issue a Section 21 Notice to Quit, so-called because it operates under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
- Landlords can also terminate a tenancy before the fixed period elapses. To do this, they must obtain an order for possession from a court. Before applying to the court for such an order, the landlord must issue the tenant with a Section 8 Notice to Quit. This notice, which takes its name because it operates under section 8 of the Housing Act, needs to state that the landlord intends to seek possession of the property and the grounds on which possession is sought.
- For the majority of 17 grounds covered by section 8 of the Housing Act – including rent arrears, antisocial behaviour and breaches of the terms of the agreement – a landlord is required to give the tenant just two weeks’ notice to quit.
- ASTs are not usually subject to rent controls, which gives landlords the right to increase the amount they charge tenants after they have signed the rental agreement.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement forms part of a landlord’s raft of necessary paperwork. This is why Property Division is pleased to offer you a free AST agreement. Simply print off two copies, sign one and hand it to your tenants, then get your tenant or tenants to sign the other and hand that agreement to you.
However, ASTs do not cover agreements where tenants pay more than £100,000 in rent per year or when a limited company rents a residential property.
The latter often involves companies renting residential accommodation and letting the property to their employees, usually under a licence agreement (as opposed to a tenancy).
While the employee will usually pay rent and other costs to the landlord, ultimately the company is liable.
If you like a custom, completely personalised assured shorthold tenancy agreement, use the link below. It takes about 5 min to create and you will end up with an agreement, tailored to your specific property.
Alternatively, if you just want to download a generic template, use the link below.
Key Provisions in a Tenancy Agreement
It’s crucial to be mindful of the terms outlined in your tenancy agreement, as violating them can result in eviction. To avoid this, it’s important to adhere to the agreement at all times.
Your landlord may adjust the rent you pay when your fixed term tenancy expires. This could be for various reasons, such as keeping pace with the local property prices or the Retail Price Index (RPI). The tenancy agreement will contain a rent adjustment clause that explains this process.
If your landlord intends to increase the rent, they will send you a written notice before the end of your fixed term. During the fixed term, the landlord cannot raise the rent.
If you plan on subleasing the property, pay close attention to the subleasing clause in the tenancy agreement. You must obtain your landlord’s permission before subleasing the property. There may be a clause that prohibits subleasing altogether, so be sure to check the agreement.
The tenancy agreement will state if you are allowed to have pets in the rental property. Landlords who permit pets cannot demand a higher security deposit or professional cleaning services at the end of the tenancy, but they may charge a higher rent. The higher rent must be clearly indicated to you prior to signing the tenancy agreement.
You may want to add personal touches to the property, such as hanging pictures or removing fixtures, but it could be a violation of the tenancy agreement. Landlords may include clauses that prohibit you from making any alterations to the property, such as drilling holes in the walls or painting the walls, without their consent. Be sure to check with your landlord or agent before making any changes.
The tenancy agreement may include a clause that prohibits smoking inside the property. It’s important to seek clarification on where you’re allowed to smoke on the premises.
Garden and Common Areas
The tenancy agreement may have provisions for maintaining the garden and shared areas, such as keeping the grass trimmed, hedges trimmed, and ensuring there’s no excessive litter. You should not be expected to do more than the average person, and if you don’t have the necessary tools, check if your landlord can provide them.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
By law, landlords must test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on the first day of the tenancy. If the tenancy agreement specifies that they’re your responsibility, you must regularly test the detectors, replace the batteries, and not tamper with them.