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Assured shorthold tenancy agreement: what do landlords need to know?

3-minute read

Assured shorthold tenancy
Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones

27 October 2023

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A tenancy agreement is something every landlord should consider having in place. It sets out all the key information of the tenancy, such as when the rent’s due and who’s responsible for maintenance.

Read on to find out what your tenancy agreement should include, why you need one, and how to make sure it complies with the law.

What is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement in the UK is a contract between a landlord and their tenants, which sets out the legal terms and conditions of the tenancy.

Most tenancy agreements will automatically be assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreements, also known as an assured shorthold tenancy agreement for letting a residential dwelling.

They’ll likely be this type of tenancy agreement if:

  • you're a private landlord or housing association
  • the tenancy began on or after 15 January 1989
  • the property is your tenants’ main residence
  • you don’t live in the property

A tenancy can’t be an assured shorthold tenancy agreement if:

  • it started before 15 January 1989
  • the rent is in excess of £100,000 a year
  • the rent is lower than £250 a year (lower than £1,000 if the property is in London)
  • it's a business or licensed premises
  • it’s a holiday let
  • the landlord is a local council

How long is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

An assured shorthold tenancy is an agreement between the landlord and tenant that lasts for a minimum of six months.

An AST can have a set term, such as six months or 12 months, or it can be periodic. A periodic tenancy is a rolling agreement between the landlord and tenant with no fixed end date.

The different types of tenancy agreement

Assured shorthold tenancies are the most common type of tenancy. However, there are a range of other tenancy types, including regulated tenancies, company lets, and non-assured tenancies.

Read our guide to the different types of tenancy agreements in the UK for an overview of all the different options.

Why do I need an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

Even if you don’t have a written contract with your tenant, a tenancy agreement will still be in place. Under s54(2) of the Law of Property Act 1925, a tenancy will exist as soon as a tenant starts paying rent.

However, having a written tenancy agreement allows you to make certain stipulations, such as how and when you’ll review rent or the circumstances under which you may withhold all or part of your tenant's deposit.

Without a written agreement you won’t even be able to prove how much rent the tenant owes you, and may find yourself caught out.

What to include in an assured shorthold tenancy agreement

There are a number of things that you can include in a tenancy agreement. Our free tenancy agreement template covers:

  • the names of everyone involved in the agreement
  • how much the rent will be
  • how often the rent will be paid
  • how much the deposit will be
  • reasons you may withhold all or part of the deposit
  • the address of the property
  • the start date and length of the tenancy
  • the tenants' responsibilities, such as paying Council Tax and maintaining the property
  • your obligations, such as repairs to the property

There are other agreements and obligations you may want to consider, including things like:

  • how and when you'll review the rent
  • whether the property can be sublet
  • whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done

If you want to add to or remove parts of the tenancy agreement, you should work with a legal professional to do this.

Making sure your assured shorthold tenancy agreement complies with the law

If you're considering making amendments to the assured shorthold tenancy agreement, you need to make sure that those changes comply with the law.

It’s illegal to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of:

  • age
  • gender reassignment
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • disability
  • race, including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

If you have any concerns about what you can or can’t include in your assured shorthold tenancy agreement, you should talk to your solicitor.

Meanwhile, our guide to DSS tenants explains more about discrimination and what you can’t include in rental property adverts.

Quick tenancy agreement tips for landlords

Here are some things to consider when organising your tenancy agreement:

  • make sure any clauses around subjects like subletting, smoking, and tenants with pets are clear
  • assured shorthold tenancy notice periods should be set out clearly and comply with the law
  • once signed, give your tenants a copy of the agreement so they can refer to it throughout the tenancy
  • if you want to make changes to the agreement, make sure you have permission from your tenants

What happens at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy?

If you want to regain possession of your property, you’ll need to let your tenants know and give them a notice period. An assured shorthold tenancy notice period must be set out in your tenancy agreement.

You could also receive an assured shorthold tenancy notice to quit by the tenant which means they want to leave the property.

Your assured shorthold tenancy agreement notice period must fit in with legal guidelines.’s guide to ending a tenancy gives you an overview of what you need to know.

You can also include an assured shorthold tenancy break clause in your agreement, but it’s best to get legal advice to make sure it’s compliant.

Deposit schemes for assured shorthold tenancy agreements

For properties in England and Wales you have a choice of three deposit schemes:

Scotland has its own choice of tenancy deposit schemes, as does Northern Ireland.

Our guide to deposit protection schemes for landlords explains everything you need to know.

Deposit-free renting

Tenants with assured shorthold tenancies can also use a deposit-free scheme.

This deposit alternative allows tenants to pay a small upfront fee (usually around one week’s rent) to take out an insurance policy.

The insurance covers any damage or loss to the landlord’s property, with renters responsible for any outstanding payments at the end of the tenancy.

Read our guide to deposit-free renting for more information.

Tenant Fees Act 2019

The introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 means that landlords and their letting agents can no longer charge tenants fees for things like inventories and referencing.

Read our article to understand which fees landlords can still charge their tenants.

Do you have any unanswered questions about creating a tenancy agreement for your rental property? Let us know in the comments below.

More useful guides for landlords

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Photograph: smolaw11/
Zach Hayward-Jones

Written by

Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones is a Copywriter at Simply Business, with six years of writing experience across entertainment, insurance, and financial services. Zach specialises in covering small business and landlord insurance. He has a particular interest in issues impacting the hospitality industry after spending a number of years working as a pastry chef.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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