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Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) are the most common type of tenancy in the UK. The majority of new tenancies are automatically Assured Shorthold Tenancies, so it is vital that all landlords understand them and the legalities around them. Here, we delve into the intricacies of Assured Shorthold Tenancies so you are fully informed and can embark on a successful tenancy between you and your tenant.

You can also download our full Landlord’s Guide to ASTs, here.

What is an AST?

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is a legally binding agreement between you as the landlord and your tenants. Guided by the Housing Act 1988, a typical AST agreement specifies the amount of rent to be paid each month, the duration of the tenancy agreement and the responsibilities of both the tenant and landlord.

Legalities of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement essentially sets out the legal structure for both tenant and landlord and generally lasts for a fixed period of time – typically 6 months or 12 months – after this period, the agreement automatically becomes a periodic tenancy agreement unless another fixed term AST agreement is signed.

There are some simple criteria an assured shorthold tenancy agreement needs to adhere to:

  • • You are a private landlord or housing association
  • • The tenancy started on or after 15th January 1989
  • • The property is your tenants’ main residence
  • • You do not live in the property

What should be included in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement?

All parties involved in the tenancy should receive a copy of the assured shorthold tenancy agreement to sign. This should include the following:

  • • Full names of everyone involved
  • • Address of the rented property
  • • The start and end date of the fixed term
  • • Rental price, how it’s paid and any information on rent review
  • • All obligations of both the tenant and the landlord
  • • The deposit amount and how it is protected
  • • When the deposit or part of the deposit can be withheld
  • • any tenant or landlord obligations
  • • which bills your tenants are responsible for
  • • notice periods for both the landlord and tenant

Tenancy deposits

At the start of an AST, you should take a sum of money (up to a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent) from the tenant as a security deposit, in case the property is damaged, or rent is unpaid when they leave.

By law, you as the AST landlord should protect this deposit within 30 days of receiving it using one of three Government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes:

  • • MyDeposits 
  • • Tenancy Deposit Scheme
  • • Deposit Protection Service

ASTs and the Renters Reform

The government has introduced the Renters Reform Bill which aims to improve the rental system for both renters and landlords and it has recently passed its third reading in parliament.

Touted as one of the most comprehensive set of reforms for the private rented sector in a generation, the Bill is currently in legislative proceedings but is set to bring transformative changes in the coming years, including the abolition of the Section 21 Notice and strengthening Section 8 rights for landlords, a shift to Assured Tenancies as the standard as well as a change of law affecting both tenants and landlords. Find the latest updates to the Bill, here.

Download the full guide

Our downloadable Landlord’s Guide to Assured Shorthold Tenancies gives a more comprehensive overview of what they are, the legalities and how to end a tenancy should you need to. Grab your copy here.

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