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Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) Agreement: This is the standard tenancy agreement used for most residential lettings in England. It sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy, including the rent, the length of the tenancy, and the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant.

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At the Tenancy Agreement Service, we are committed to helping landlords and managing agents confidently navigate the legal aspects of tenancy agreements. We offer the most up-to-date and legally compliant documents and forms at an affordable price, empowering our customers to save time and money and take control of their tenancies. 

Our mission is to provide trustworthy and easy-to-use resources and support to simplify the process of managing a tenancy agreement. We are passionate about giving our customers peace of mind and the assurance that they are meeting their legal obligations.

We have entire sections of this website dedicated to some of the top questions below, but we thought we would help you by providing great summaries to the big areas on the home page, (with links to the sections).

What is a Tenancy Agreement?

A Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant that outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy. It sets out the rights and obligations of both parties and is governed by the Housing Act 1988 and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

The agreement will include the length of the tenancy, when rent is due, how much rent is due, how deposits are to be held, and what you can and can't do during the tenancy. It also covers the landlord's and tenant's responsibilities for repairs and maintenance, as well as what happens when the tenancy ends.

The Tenancy Agreement is an essential document that allows both parties to understand their rights and responsibilities. It should be read carefully, and any questions or concerns raised before signing. This agreement is legally binding and should be adhered to throughout the tenancy.

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What expressed terms does an assured shorthold tenancy agreement include?

We recommend landlords always provide tenants with a Tenancy Agreement as it makes the landlord /tenant relationship clearer from day one.  

If there is more than one tenant , each tenant should receive a copy of the agreement and it should be signed by all parties. 

About Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) Agreements 

This agreement provides the tenants with certain rights and responsibilities, as well as clarifying the terms and conditions of their tenancy.
  • The agreement must include the names of the landlord and tenant, along with their contact details.
  • It must also state the address of the property, the amount of rent, how often it is due, and how it should be paid.
  • The agreement should also include the length of the tenancy, the date of commencement, and the notice period.
  • The agreement needs to explain the tenant’s responsibility for paying bills such as utilities and council tax, as well as for any repairs or damage caused by them.
  • It should also outline the landlord’s right to enter the property and any restrictions on the tenant’s use of the property.
  • The agreement should also include details of any deposits the tenant has paid, along with information on how this will be protected and any deductions that may be taken from it. This is in accordance with the Tenant Fees Act 2019 and The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) regulations.
  • Finally, the agreement must include details of the parties’ rights and responsibilities under the Housing Act 1988 and the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. 
It is essential that both parties read and understand the agreement before signing it in order to ensure that their rights and responsibilities are fully understood. We provide landlords and/or their agents robust, legally up to date,and landlord friendly, online tenancy agreements which are suitable for any property whether furnished or unfurnished, with or without pets.  

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What is an Assured Shorthold tenancy and is that the right Agreementf or a 'normal rental'?

All tenancies that started on or after 28th February 1997 are now automatically Assured Shorthold Tenancies.

That is,  unless the required steps were followed to set up an Assured Tenancy or the circumstances are such that an Assured Shorthold Tenancy cannot be used. These circumstances include:

  • the property is to be let to a company,
  • the property is to be let as a holiday home,
  • the rent exceeds £100,000 per annum.

We have a free guide to Assured Shorthold Tenancies here.

You can either read more about Tenancy Agreements here, or  download a Tenancy Agreement here.

How long is a tenancy agreement for?

The length of a tenancy agreement in the UK typically varies, and there are a few different types of tenancy agreements. The most common is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) which is a legal agreement between a landlord and tenant governed by the Housing Act 1988. This type of agreement is typically for a fixed period of 6 or 12 months, however, it can be for any term agreed between the landlord and tenant.

As of 2020, the longest fixed-term tenancy a landlord can offer is five years when created through a written agreement. If a tenant remains in the property beyond the end of the fixed-term tenancy, after the agreement has ended, the tenancy automatically continues as a statutory periodic tenancy. In this situation, the tenancy period will be either monthly or quarterly, depending on the terms of the original agreement.

What is the law on tenancy deposits in the UK when starting a tenancy?

What is a tenancy deposit scheme?

The Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme is designed to ensure that any money paid as a tenancy deposit is secure and returned to the tenant at the end of their tenancy.

All deposits for assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. The deadline for this is 30 days from the date the tenant pays the deposit. If a landlord or letting agent fails to protect a deposit, they may have to pay the tenant up to three times the deposit amount.

The three approved deposit protection schemes in England and Wales are the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), mydeposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). All three schemes provide insurance-based protection and a free dispute resolution service.  If you have any questions about tenancy deposits or the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, you can find more information on the government's website.

What is a Section 21 notice and when is it used?

This is one of our top questions form landlords.  

A Section 21 notice is a document used in the United Kingdom when a landlord wishes to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement. It is an official document that must be served on the tenant and it informs them that the landlord wishes to end the tenancy. The notice must be in the prescribed form and contain certain information, which is laid out in the Housing Act 1988.

The document can only be served during the fixed term of the tenancy, or after the fixed term has expired. It cannot be served during the first four months of the tenancy, and it must give the tenant at least two months' notice. 

A Section 21 notice is usually served when the landlord wishes to regain possession of the property, either to sell it, or to let it to someone else.  In some circumstances, a Section 21 notice can be served in order to evict tenants who are in rent arrears.  The government has a helpful guide on section 21 notices here

What happens if a tenant breaches the tenancy agreement, (Section 8)?

If a tenant breaches the tenancy agreement, the landlord has the right to take action using Section 8. This might include seeking an eviction order through the courts.

Common breaches of tenancy include not paying rent, causing damage to the property, or breaking any other terms of the agreement. If the breach is serious or repeated, it could be grounds for eviction.

In this situation, the landlord must follow the correct legal process when evicting a tenant. This can include giving written Section 8 Notice, applying for an eviction order and having a bailiff remove the tenant.

The grounds for eviction are set out in the Housing Act 1988. We have a detailed guide on getting a court order using Section 8 of this Act here.

How do I end a tenancy agreement early?

Ending a tenancy agreement early in the UK is possible, however it is important to understand the legal obligations of both tenants and landlords. According to the UK government, if a fixed-term tenancy has a break clause included in the agreement, then either the tenant or landlord can end the tenancy early by giving 'notice'.

The amount of notice required and when it needs to be given will depend on the terms of your tenancy agreement. 

If there is no break clause, or if the break clause does not allow for the tenancy to be ended early, then the tenancy will continue until the end of the fixed term. In this case, the tenant must make the necessary payments until the end of the fixed term and then will be able to move out.

If the tenant wants to leave before the end of the fixed term, they can ask the landlord if they are willing to end the tenancy early. The landlord may agree to this if they can find a new tenant quickly, but they are not obliged to do this.

If the landlord agrees to end the tenancy early, both parties will need to sign a formal agreement detailing the conditions of the early termination and the date that the tenant must move out by.

We have an entire section dedicated to 'Ending a tenancy'.

It is advisable to get professional advice on this if you are unsure of your rights, as this will help to ensure that everything is done in accordance with the law.

About our Tenancy Agreements

As you will gather tens of thousands of people come to this website each year to get free help and guidance and end up downloading tenancy agreements they can use quickly and easily.

Our goal with our tenancy agreements (and all our documents) is:

1.         Simple, trustworthy and incredibly easy to use

2.         Up to date with the latest law

3.         Easy to edit in Word.  You can add or delete whatever you like but do get advice if you don't know what yo are doing.

4.         One payment for unlimited use, no subscriptions

Download your Tenancy Agreement Now

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A few other things we help with:

The site also focuses primarily on the obligations and rights of landlords and tenants in Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements such as complying with relevant Gas, Fire and Electrical Safety Legislation, the correct steps to be followed when applying Rent Increases, Landlords' and Tenants' Repairing Obligations as well as more general information such as what to look for when taking out Landlords Insurance.

We have what we believe is the best free guide to small claims in the County Court here and all the relevant Court Forms Landlords need.

We have also compiled a Landlord Legal Glossary to explain legal/property terms in plain English. 


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