Last edited 18 Jun 2018

Assured shorthold tenancy

A tenant is the occupier of a leasehold estate, that is, someone who occupies land or property that they rent from a landlord. Tenancy is the agreement between the landlord and the tenant giving them the right of occupancy.

Assured shorthold tenancy (AST) is the most common type of agreement used by landlords to let residential properties to private tenants. ASTs are typically given for a period of six months but can be for longer. After this initial agreed period, the landlord is able to evict the tenant without a legal reason.

See also: Difference between assured shorthold tenancy and assured tenancy.

The Housing Act 1988 defines the criteria under which a tenancy can be an AST:

  • The property must be the tenant’s main place of residence.
  • The landlord must be a private landlord or housing association and not live in the property.
  • The tenant must be an individual not a business or other non-person.
  • The property cannot be let as separate accommodation.

A tenancy cannot be an AST if it is more than £100,000 a year, less than £250 a year (£1,000 in London), is a holiday let, or if the landlord is a local council.

The AST contract must be signed before the tenancy starts and should inform tenants of how much rent is payable, the length of the tenancy, and where responsibility for repairs lies.

At the start of the AST, a sum of money is paid by the tenant to the landlord as a deposit, to be returned in full or part when the tenancy ends. The deposit must be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme.

The landlord is not able to increase the rent during the fixed term of an AST unless it is agreed by the tenant and/or if there is a rent review clause included in the contract. This clause will typically detail when the review will take place, the amount of notice the tenant will receive, and how any increase will be calculated.

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