Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements are the most common type of tenancy agreement used for letting a residential property. You will sometimes hear them called an ‘AST’ or a ‘Shorthold Tenancy’.
But, what is an Assured Tenancy Agreement? What are the benefits of using one? And what are the rights of a landlord and tenant under a standard AST agreement? Keep reading to find out.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement is an agreement to let out a rental property. It is normally arranged for a six month period but can be agreed for a longer period, for example twelve months. This type of tenancy allows the tenant to remain in the property for the first six months or for the initial fixed period of the tenancy - if this is longer.
The main requirement with this type of tenancy agreement is that the landlord and tenant agree on the minimum term and the rent. And, an Assured Shorthold Tenancy also enshrines the main rights and responsibilities of both the tenant and the landlord.
For example, an Assured Shorthold Tenancy ensures that the tenant is protected in terms of the amount of rent that is charged. This means that the tenant has the right to challenge excessively high rent or substantial changes to the agreed rent.
Landlords also have rights under an AST. For example, a landlord has the right to guaranteed possession after the initial fixed tenancy period.
The Housing Act 1988 defines several main criteria for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy to be set up. These are:
- The property must be let as separate accommodation
- The property must be the tenant’s main home
- The tenant should be an individual (or individuals)
The vast majority of private rented tenants are assured shorthold tenants. You automatically have an assured shorthold tenancy if all of the following apply:
- You pay your rent to a private landlord who does not live in the same building as you
- You moved in on or after 28 February 1997
- You have control over your home so your landlord and other people cannot enter whenever they want to
Some types of tenancy cannot be assured shorthold tenancies. These include:
- Tenancies where a very low rent is paid
- Business tenancies
- College or university accommodation
- Tenancies of agricultural land
- Holiday lets
ASTs have proved to be popular as, according to the Investors Chronicle, ‘because they meet the needs of both tenants and landlords’. "The reality is that tenants don't want to sign up longer," claims Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association.
So, if you’re letting a residential property or you are a tenant of a flat or house, it’s likely there will be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy in place. But, what rights does this give you? Keep reading to find out.
Your rights as a landlord
An AST contains a number of rights that landlords retain. If you’re a landlord, your rights include:
- To guarantee possession of the property at the end of the initial fixed tenancy period
- To seek possession of the property if the tenant has damaged it
- To repossess the property is the tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy (set out in the Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement)
- To enter the property after giving the tenant a reasonable notice period – for example to carry out repairs or maintenance for which you are responsible or to conduct an inspection of the property
- To dispose of any items left at the property that are unclaimed by the tenant (within a specified period of time)
- To repossess the property if the rent remains unpaid for fourteen days or more
- To repossess the property if the tenant becomes bankrupt
As well as setting out landlord’s rights, an Assured Shorthold Tenancy also sets out the rights a tenant has when renting a property. We examine these next.
Your rights as a tenant
If you’re a tenant, you have a number of important rights under as Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement. Your main rights are:
- To be aware of the full terms of the specific tenancy agreement
- ‘Quiet enjoyment’ – to live in the property as if it is your home. An AST will give you the right to enjoy peaceful and quiet residence in the property and that any demands from the landlord for access are notified prior
- That the landlord must give a reasonable notice period if they want to end the tenancy
- To know the name and address of your landlord
- To live in a property that is in suitable condition for rental purposes
- That any maintenance and repairs should be carried out promptly
- To have your deposit returned within thirty days of the end of the tenancy agreement (as long as your rental payments are up to date)
- For the property to be safe. All equipment should meet safety standards and a Gas Inspection Certificate should be produced at the start of the tenancy and annually thereafter
- To have any deposit returned within thirty days subject to rental payments being up to date
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it’s extremely important that an Assured Shorthold Tenancy governs your letting. So, to help, you, we have produced a blank Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement template for you to read and use. Find out more here link