Assured Shorthold Tenancies
The team of landlord and tenant solicitors at Percy Hughes & Roberts can help property owners with the drafting and creation of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) or other tenancy agreement. We have helped many landlords throughout Merseyside and the wider North West with all aspects of tenancy creation, and we are well-placed to offer advice on any residential AST agreement or contract.
From our offices in Birkenhead, we provide a comprehensive landlord and tenant service for clients in relation to residential leases. Whether you want to offer tenants a fixed-term tenancy or a periodic tenancy, we can help. Our experience means we understand the common pitfalls a landlord can encounter, and we can ensure that any assured shorthold tenancy agreement we create will deliver on your needs, meet your legal obligations, and secure your interests.
What is an AST?
ASTs are the most common form of tenancy. Most new tenancies are automatically this type, and fall into this category if all of the following apply:
- You are a private landlord or housing association
- The tenancy started on or after 15th January 1989
- The property is your tenants' main accommodation
- You don't live in the property
Since 1999, all new residential tenancies are treated as ASTs unless the landlord and tenant have agreed otherwise. If your tenancy started prior to 1999, the situation is more complicated, and it is best to speak to an experienced landlord solicitor for guidance on meeting your legal obligations.
In particular, the type of agreement between you and your tenant will affect the tenant's rights, the procedures you must follow to secure an eviction, the notice period you must give, and more. As such, it is vital to consult a solicitor before taking any action to ensure that you follow the necessary legal procedures and uphold the tenant's rights at all times.
FAQs About Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements
What common clauses should an AST include?
While an AST agreement can vary according to the individual needs of the landlord, there are some clauses that should be included and are common to almost all residential leases.
- Names and contact details: clearly specify the names of the landlord and tenant(s), along with their contact information and the address of the rental property.
- Term of tenancy: state the start and end dates of the tenancy and whether it is a fixed-term or periodic agreement. Fixed-term tenancies typically last six months to a year, while periodic tenancies are ongoing and can be terminated by either party with appropriate notice.
- Rent: indicate the rent amount, the due date, and the preferred payment method. Additionally, specify if there are any late fees or penalties for missed payments. It is important to consult a solicitor about your rights in cases where a tenant falls into rental arrears, as this will help to ensure your agreement is legally binding.
- Deposit: detail the amount of the security deposit, how it will be held, and the circumstances under which deductions may be made at the end of the tenancy.
- Maintenance and repairs: clarify the responsibilities of both parties for maintaining and repairing the property, including guidelines for reporting and addressing issues.
- Restrictions: include any restrictions on the property, such as limitations on smoking, keeping pets, or making alterations to the property without the landlord's permission.
- Termination and notice periods: outline the procedure for ending the tenancy, including the notice periods required by both parties. There are laws that govern notice periods and your lease agreement cannot include provisions that would break these laws. You might also consider including a break clause, which allows either party to end the agreement early, subject to specific conditions and notice periods.
- Governing law: indicate that the agreement is governed by the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland, depending on the property's location.
If you are unsure what to include in an AST agreement, speak to an expert landlord lawyer from Percy Hughes & Roberts today for support in drafting a residential lease.
Can a landlord end an AST early or make changes?
A landlord generally cannot unilaterally end an assured shorthold tenancy early or make changes to the agreement after it has been signed unless they have the tenant's consent. The only option for ending the tenancy early in such a case would be to evict the tenant, although there are legal restrictions on when and how a landlord can carry out an eviction.
In most cases, the landlord must rely on one or more legal grounds for eviction as specified under the Housing Act. These grounds include non-payment of rent, antisocial behaviour, or causing damage to the property; in some cases, a tenant breaching the terms of their tenancy agreement can also be grounds for eviction.
There are some specific circumstances in which a landlord may be able to end the tenancy early or modify the agreement without resorting to an eviction. For example, if a break clause is included in the tenancy agreement, the landlord may end the tenancy early, provided they follow the specified notice period and conditions outlined in the clause.
Further, if both the landlord and tenant agree to end the tenancy early or modify the agreement, the changes can be made, ideally documented in writing to avoid future disputes.
It is crucial for landlords to follow the correct legal procedures when attempting to end a tenancy or modify an agreement, as improper actions can result in legal consequences or financial penalties. Consulting a legal professional is vital to ensure you comply with the relevant regulations when pursuing your goals as a landlord.