What is a Tenancy Agreement?
A Tenancy agreement is also known as a Residential Tenancy Agreement, Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), Short Assured Tenancy and Letting Contract. This Tenancy Agreement is the most frequently used tenancy agreement in the letting of residential properties in the UK.
A tenancy agreement is a legal contract between a tenant and the landlord and sets out the obligations of both the landlord and tenant during the course of the tenancy. It does not have to be in writing but it usually is as it avoids disputes later on. The tenancy agreement gives a tenant the right to occupy the property for the period set out in the agreement (whether it is a fixed term or ongoing) and it gives the landlord the right to receive rent.
Express terms of a tenancy agreement
Whilst most tenants do not have a legal right to a tenancy agreement we recommend landlords always provide one 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.
The tenancy agreement should provide the name, address and contact details of the landlord and the agreement should at least cover the following points:
- The property address
- Start date
- Length of tenancy
- Who is allowed to occupy the property
- The amount of rent payable and the exact payment date (e.g. £750 a month paid on the 3rd of each month)
- What is included in the rent (council tax etc)
- Notice periods (should either the landlord or tenant wish to end the tenancy). These cannot be less than those provided by statute
- Repairing obligations of both parties
We provide landlords and / or their agents with 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. We provide excellent guidance notes with the agreement so you have a step by step guide to follow. You can download a tenancy agreement here.
What is an Assured Shorthold tenancy?
All tenancies that started on or after 28th February 1997 are now automatically Assured Shorthold Tenancies, 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.
Things you should think about before buying a Tenancy Agreement Online
Everyday about 1600 people come onto this website so we have a good idea about the questions and concerns landlords and property managers have before they buy or download legal documents. Top considerations include:
1. Who drafted the tenancy agreement? Not all documents are identical and the law is forever changing. Do you trust the legal author in terms of their legal background, experience and reputation among both lawyers and property owners? You will see that our legal documents have been prepared by legal experts. Not all documents give you this sort of reputational confidence. After all, the whole point of getting a lettings agreement is for peace of mind.
2. Is it legally up to date? The law changes (or is clarified by the courts) fairly regularly and clauses that were suitable 2 years ago may cause problems for landlords today. There are quite a few legal websites selling legal documents and they often do not say when the documents were last updated.
3. Be wary of the word 'FREE' An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is a very important document that governs a commercial relationship worth on average £8500 per year in rent and probably relates to one of your biggest capital assets. Are you willing to take risks with it?
There are a myriad of offers for 'FREE Tenancy Agreements', but when you take a closer look it is usually conditional on you becoming a 'member' of a club of some sort where you are probably sold something else alongside it that you were not originally looking for, such as property management services which can cost you £1000's per annum. The headline is eye catching but in this sort of scenario you may be better off simply paying one low price. Our approach is 'what you see is what you get'.
4. Are there clear guidance notes with the tenancy agreement?Without incredibly easy to follow notes which explain how to prepare the tenancy agreement, many landlords lose confidence and opt to pay a letting agent or solicitor £100. Make sure there are excellent notes and a money back guarantee should you change your mind. You can find both of these here:
This 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.
For further information read our introductory page to Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements.
The site also provides information on the steps that should be taken to legally End a Tenancy Agreement, such as correctly issuing a Section 21 Notice to Quit.
Tenants' rights include a certain degree of protection from eviction; however, a tenant who has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement can be evicted after being served a Section 8 Notice to Quit.
We also have what we believe is the best free guide to small claims in the County Court here.
We have also compiled a Landlord Legal Glossary to explain legal / property terms in plain English.
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