Safe Way of Property Lettings

When it comes to properties, legal documents and agreements shouldn’t be confusing. Yet frequently agreeing on tenancy terms can be a real headache. Let’s try to understand the basic concept of assured shorthold tenancy and discuss the situations when it can be used.

Assured shorthold tenancy or AST is the main form of tenancy for England and Wales. Its main purpose, when it was introduced back in 1997, was to give an equal amount of rights to both the tenant and the landlord. The idea behind the AST is to provide the tenant with at least 6 months of undisturbed living and the landlord with an easy way to recover his property. The Housing Act of 1996 also made it easier for a tenant to chase the landlord for certain repairs necessary to the property.

What is Covered?

Majority of tenancies fall under the AST terms easily. An AST doesn’t cover business lettings, tenancies where the annual rent exceeds £25,000, lets for a low rent or mutual benefit, holiday lettings and agricultural lease.

Although the law doesn’t require that the AST is bound by a written agreement, it is very important to use a recent and professional contract. Usually three copies of tenancy agreement are made; the third copy is held by the lettings agent for further reference.

A professionally drafted AST agreement must include correct names and contact details of both parties, it should clearly indicate the starting and ending date of the contract, the rental price, the amount of deposit and the way it is handled, the main responsibilities, party responsible for repairs and servicing, rules regarding the behaviour, pets, smoking and other important clauses.

After The Assured Shorthold Tenancy

When the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy comes to an end, it either terminates or transforms into a periodic tenancy. This is always to be agreed between the landlord and the tenant. If both parties are happy with the arrangements, they usually sign a formal agreement. Normally, this new agreement that follows your expired assured shorthold tenancy is drafted by the landlord and signed by both parties.

Often people decide to settle for a mutual oral agreement. This is not advisable, especially in cases when the amount of rent would be different or there would be some additional requirements. For example, the landlord needs to repair something or the tenant is required to pay any damages. Neither a lawyer nor a property agent is required to assist the signing of the new agreement but you have to make sure the agreement is made in two copies.

Periodic tenancy usually runs on monthly cycles, rolling from month to month without the necessity to renew the agreement constantly. Probably, the next time you contact your landlord will be to give him the notice before leaving. The notice period is usually a month but can be agreed a quarter or any other period of time suitable.

In some cases an assured shorthold tenancy can be prolonged by signing another AST agreement for another 6 or 12 months. Please be aware that the new AST that follows the initial tenancy agreement doesn’t guarantee your stay for the agreed period, as the initial agreement did. Your landlord can give you a notice before the expiry date. That’s why there is usually no point in following one AST with another. A periodic agreement is probably a better way to continue the tenancy.

An AST is an easy and fair way to direct the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. Make sure you use only the most recent legal documents to avoid unwanted hassle.


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