What is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

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An 'Assured shorthold tenancy agreement' (AST) allows a landlord to let out a property to a tenant while retaining the right to repossess the property at the end of the term of the tenancy. However, the landlord will need to give the tenant at least two months' notice of any reoccupation.

If the landlord and tenant wish to extend the original period of the tenancy, a new agreement should be drafted.

In an AST, the landlord can set out the terms and conditions under which the tenant can live in the property. For example, they can specify the amount of rent due and how and when it should be paid, the deposit required and the date the tenancy expires and they also make rules regarding the tenancy, such as no smoking or no pets in the property.

An AST is an important contract between the landlord and tenant and should be used to minimise the risk of disputes by making the terms and conditions of the rental arrangement clear from the start.

However, under the terms of the Housing Act 1988, a tenancy cannot be an AST under the following conditions: if the agreement is dated before 15th January 1989; the rent is more than £100,000 per annum; the tenancy is rent free or low rent (£250 per annum outside Greater London or £1,000 at year within Greater London); the property is being let to a business or is agricultural or agricultural holdings within the terms of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986; or the property is to be let for holidays only. If any of these conditions apply to your situation, you should seek legal advice.

We will guide you through the pitfalls of negotiating an AST and help you to protect your position while setting out both yours and your tenant's rights and obligations clearly.

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