Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST)
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When should you use this tenancy agreement?
This is the most commonly used form of tenancy agreement and will usually be the appropriate tenancy agreement for a landlord's needs.
It can be used for houses and flats as long as they are self-contained. It can also be used where a house or flat is rented as a whole to a group such as groups of students, young professionals, etc, even though these properties are houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs).
Do I need a different tenancy agreement?
Where you are protecting your tenant's deposit through DepositGuard, you should use the DepositGuard Compliant Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement instead.
If you are renting out individual rooms then normally the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement - Room Only is the appropriate form. If you are renting out an individual room and protecting your deposit through DepositGuard, then you should use the DepositGuard Room Only Tenancy Agreement.
In some circumstances, an assured shorthold tenancy agreement of any type would be the wrong type of agreement. The RLA has a number of other types of tenancy agreement to cover these circumstances so where you are letting your property to a company, you are thinking of getting a lodger for your own home, or you need a non-assured tenancy agreement we have the right tenancy agreement for you.
My tenancy is running out. Do I need to give my tenants a periodic tenancy at the end of it?
No. Once you have given the tenants a tenancy they are entitled to stay in the property until they serve notice on you or you get a possession order.
If you wish to change the terms of the tenancy at the end of a fixed term you may give the tenants a new tenancy with updated terms if they agree to it. Many landlords prefer to give a new term of 6 months to a year on these renewals. However if you would rather leave the tenancy on a periodic basis, then just create a tenancy agreement for one month. That will then roll on as a periodic tenancy.
What type of tenancy does this create?
The tenancy created by this agreement is an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) within the Housing Act 1988.
Do I need to protect the deposit?
Any deposit paid must be protected under one of the Government approved tenancy deposit schemes.
How do I end this tenancy?
You can use the Section 21 procedure to obtain possession. In the event of tenancy arrears or other tenancy breach you will need to serve a Section 8 notice (e.g. relying Ground 8 for rent arrears).
Why should I use the RLA Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement?
The RLA Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) offers the following benefits:
- Complete On-Screen - Fill in all your information on your PC using Adobe Reader and save it so you always have a record for your files.
- Easy to Understand - The agreement is in plain English, meaning there is no jargon, gobbledygook and other confusing language.
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme Ready - The RLA tenancy agreement includes information relating to the handling of deposits.
- Proven Protection - The RLA tenancy agreement is in widespread daily use and is widely acknowledged in the industry. It has protected landlords for many years.
- Constantly Developed - As soon as Housing Law is changed, our tenancy agreement is updated by the RLA. Use in confidence that you will not fall foul of legislation.
- FREE Telephone Support - Advice on any aspect of the tenancy lifecycle is available to RLA members
- Completion Instructions - are available to assist you in completing the tenancy agreement.
What's new in the 2019 tenancies?
- From June 1st 2019, landlords in England will be barred from charging most fees to tenants. The fees ban will come into force in a slightly different form in Wales from September 2019. The penalties for this can be severe, with fines of up to £30,000 or ban on serving section 21 for landlords or agents who try and charge a prohibited fee.
- The RLA's 2019 tenancy has been amended to reflect the tenant fee ban. A number of clauses have been adjusted or removed so that landlords will not be in breach of the legislation.
In addition we have introduced a rent review clause. This clause allows landlords to agree how much the rent may increase by every 12 months. The landlord then serves a simple letter every 12 months rather than potentially having to go to tribunal to decide what rent is fair.Do I need a privacy notice?
From May 25th 2018 you must provide all of your current and new tenants and/or guarantors with your privacy notice. The RLA has created guidance on this, along with a sample privacy notice for use exclusively by our members.
What else do I need before I sign this tenancy?
Many experienced landlords and agents get into the good habit of providing a welcome pack for their tenants to sign prior to them moving in. This lets the tenant know all of their responsibilities, but it also protects the landlord by covering everything they are legally required to do beforehand.
A good welcome pack should include:
- a copy of the check-in inventory for the tenant to approve. Without a good inventory, it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to make deductions from the deposit for damages. A high quality inventory is something that the landlord can perform themselves if they wish and the RLA offers an eLearning course to help landlords learn how to do this. We also recommend landlords use the Inventory Plus app to produce detailed inventories with pictures.
- the energy performance certificate (EPC) for the property. Landlords are required to provide their tenants (and anyone who comes to view the property) with an EPC at the earliest opportunity. If they don't, they may face a fine and in England they cannot serve the section 21 form until it has been served. If you have lost your copy of your EPC you can get a replacement copy for free from epcregister.com. Alternatively, if you need an EPC, you can order one for just £65 + VAT.
- the gas safety certificate for the property. By law, all landlords must ensure their gas appliances are safe every 12 months by having a Gas Safe Registered Engineer inspect the property. The landlord must provide an up to date copy to the tenant or face a fine and/or criminal sanctions. In England, landlords also cannot serve the prescribed section 21 form until the gas safety certificate has been served on the tenant.
- the deposit certificate, prescribed information and scheme leaflet. If you take a deposit, you are required to provide all of the deposit information to the tenant and anyone who has paid towards the deposit within 30 days of receiving the money. Each scheme has different information and your first step should be choosing which scheme you want to use as it will dictate what goes in your welcome pack, as well as what goes in your tenancy agreement!
- a copy of 'How to rent: a checklist for renting in England'. In England, landlords are required to give this document at the start of any tenancy beginning or renewed on or after October 1st 2015. This does not apply to Wales.
- your contact details if you are managing a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO). Landlords who rent out a property to 3 or more people, where at least two are not related, should provide their name, address and any telephone contact number to every tenant. They should also display this prominently somewhere in the property.
- the electrical safety certificate. Currently, only HMOs are required to get an electrical safety certificate every 5 years. However, this is set to change to cover all rented properties in the near future and you may want to get ahead of the curve.
- instructions on how to use any appliances. The best way of making sure your tenant doesn't break your washing machine is letting them know how to work it properly!
- Details on the current utility providers. It can be a pain for landlords when they find out that the tenants have not notified their utility providers when moving out or in. The RLA has partnered with Utilitease to provide a free service for our landlords to make utility switching easier, as well as helping to protect you from being chased for a tenant's unpaid bills.
- Confirmation the tenant has received any documents they are legally required to have. It is vital that landlords get some evidence that they have complied with their legal responsibilities. To assist with this, the RLA has prepared a start of tenancy checklist for the tenant to sign to show the landlord has performed all their legal requirements.
In addition to the welcome pack, you should never sign the tenancy agreement, or hand over the keys, until you have successfully completed your referencing and credit checks of the tenants or guarantors. The tenant should also pay the deposit and their first rent period in advance before you agree to sign the agreement.
You must perform the right to rent checks for everyone over 18 who wants to move into the property. If you don't do this before signing, you could go to jail!
I want to use a guarantor. What do I need to be aware of?
To avoid potentially successful unfair terms challenges, the RLA recommends that a new guarantor form should be provided to the guarantor for their signature prior to every new tenancy. This includes renewing an existing tenancy (or when you expressly agree to extend a tenancy).
You must send an unsigned, but completed, copy of the proposed assured shorthold tenancy agreement alongside the deed of guarantee. You should also allow the proposed guarantor sufficient time to read the document and take legal advice if necessary. This will typically be at least 7 days before the start of the tenancy agreement. Failure to do so will likely make your guarantee unenforceable.
For more information on guarantor obligations and cancellation rights please see the explanatory guide attached to the RLA guarantor forms.
Renting out a property with a Green Deal charge?
Are you entering a Tenancy Agreement with a new tenant for a property for which a Green Deal charge is payable?
If so - the Tenancy Agreement must contain a prescribed form of acknowledgement under which the tenant agrees to pay off the Green Deal charge.
If you fail to comply you may well have to repay the full Green Deal charge at once rather than repaying via a charge on the electricity meter.
Where a new tenant becomes the bill payer, they must be given a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) giving details of the Green Deal before they view the property or at the first viewing and then sign the required acknowledgement in the Tenancy Agreement itself to say that they agree to pay the ongoing Green Deal charges.
Unsure whether your tenant is over 18?
If there is any uncertainty as to whether the prospective tenant is aged 18 or over you must check. Obtain a copy of their birth certificate/other proof of age. If you let someone under 18 use this agreement it could be much more difficult to obtain possession (e.g. due to rent arrears or because the tenancy has run out, whilst they remain under the age of 18).
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