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What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

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So, what is an assured shorthold tenancy? Most private tenants have one, but many are still unaware of the ins & outs. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know. 

What is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) are the most common types of tenancy agreement – if you rent from a private landlord or letting agency. You’ll likely have one if:

  • The tenancy started on or after 15 January 1989
  • The landlord doesn’t live in the property
  • The property is your main accommodation 

When won’t it be an AST? 

You likely won’t have an AST in the following circumstances:

  • If the tenancy began/was agreed before 15 January 1989
  • The rent is less than £250 a year (£1,000 a year in London)
  • The rent is more than £100,000 a year
  • It’s a holiday let
  • It’s a business tenancy
  • It’s a tenancy of licensed premises
  • The landlord is a local council

Two types of assured shorthold tenancy

There are two different kinds of AST:

Fixed-term

These run for a set period of time, such as a year.

Periodic

Periodic tenancies run week-by-week, or month-by-month, with no fixed end date. These are also sometimes referred to as a rolling contract.

How long is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement? 

ASTs are typically given for a period of 6 months, but can often be longer, such as 12 months. 

After this initial period, the landlord or letting agent is allowed to serve you notice to vacate and evict the tenant without legal reason. 

How do assured shorthold tenancies differ from other tenancies?

Other tenancies, such as an assured tenancy, offer more security of tenure in the long-term. This is because tenants can stay in the property until they choose to leave, or the landlord gains a possession order or Section 8 notice, for example if the tenant falls into rent arrears. 

It’s important you know your rights, and what your landlord can/cannot do. 

How to end an AST (in England and Wales)

With an AST, the landlord has the right to regain possession after the fixed term of the tenancy agreement has expired by serving a Section 21 notice

While the landlord must provide reasonable notice (2 months), many have called for increased protection for tenants when it comes to eviction. Section 21 has been heavily criticised, as landlords can essentially take their property back whenever, but some feel renters deserve more rights.  

To get out of the fixed term early, you’d need a break clause. Remember, both landlord and tenant have the right to implement this. 

Understand AST contracts 

You should be provided with a contract, but you can also ask your landlord for a written statement of the basic terms of your agreement. 

If requested, your landlord must provide you with the following information:

  1. Tenancy start date
  2. Rent due date
  3. Rental price
  4. Length of fixed-term
  5. Their name & address
  6. Any rent review clauses
    1. This must say when an increase can happen, how much notice you’ll get & the formula for calculating the new amount

What happens at the end of the fixed-term?

If you want to stay in the same property, you can agree to a new fixed-term, bearing in mind your rent may increase. Or, you could remain without signing a new contract, in which case the agreement becomes periodic and rolls on at the same rent.

Your landlord can’t increase the rent during the fixed-term unless you agree to it, or your contract contains a rent review clause. After the fixed-term comes to an end, they must give you 1 month’s notice of any rent increases.

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Last Updated: December 6th, 2021