What Is An Assured ShortHold Tenancy Agreement (AST)?

Watch our video which explains an assured shorthold tenancy agreement in England and Wales.

What is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST)?

An assured shorthold tenancy agreement, or AST, is a written rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant that gives the tenant exclusive possession of a rental property for a fixed period of time, usually six or twelve months.

An AST is used for residential properties and can be for either a furnished or an unfurnished rental property from a private landlord.

Almost all new private residential rental contracts in England and Wales are assured shorthold tenancy agreements.

What are the conditions of an AST?

In order to have an assured shorthold tenancy, the property has to be the main accommodation of the tenant, the landlord cannot live in the same property. The tenancy must have started after the 15th of January 1989.

You cannot use an AST if the property is a holiday let or owned by a local council, if the rent is less than £250 a year or more than £100,000, or if the tenancy is for a business.

Photo of a house in England with an AST contract.
An assured shorthold tenancy can be used for a private rental where the property is the main residence of the tenant and not the landlord. Photo © Joseph Jones (cc-by-sa/2.0)

What is the difference between an AST and an assured tenancy?

The main difference between an AST and an assured tenancy agreement is that an AST has a fixed term, whereas an older assured tenancy agreement does not.

Having an AST means that the tenant can stay in the property for the agreed length of time, but cannot stay beyond that point unless they renew the AST or reach another agreement with the landlord.

An assured tenancy, often used before 1989, had no time period associated with the rental contract and essentially the tenant had an open-ended permanent tenancy of the property.

Do you need an assured shorthold tenancy agreement for letting a residential dwelling?

Our assured shorthold tenancy agreement template is perfect for landlords looking for a document that is straightforward and easy to use. It has been designed to protect both the landlord and the tenant, and includes all the necessary information you need to get started.

We know how important it is for landlords to find the right tenants, and our AST tenancy agreement template will help you do just that. With this document in place, you can feel confident that both you and your tenant are protected by law.

Download your AST tenancy agreement today!

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What is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

An assured shorthold tenancy agreement, or AST, is a written rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant that gives the tenant exclusive possession of a rental property for a fixed period of time, usually six or twelve months.

How long is an AST usually for?

An assured shorthold tenancy agreement in England and Wales is usually for six or twelve months. Almost all new tenancy agreements in England and Wales are AST’s.

Where can I download an assured shorthold tenancy agreement template?

You can download an AST template in Word Doc or PDF format by visiting our website and purchasing our comprehensive landlord pack for England and Wales. The AST PDF allows you to print and sign while the AST Word Doc allows you to make changes to the document.

What protection does an assured short-hold tenancy agreement give?

AST agreements also have other protections for tenants that older tenancy agreements do not have. For example, an assured shorthold tenancy cannot be ended simply by the landlord giving notice to the tenant.

The landlord can only end an AST if they have grounds to do so, such as the tenant not paying rent or causing damage to the property.

In other words, the landlord must wait until the end of the tenancy agreement, hence the word “assured”. The term “short-hold” is used because most assured shorthold tenancy agreements run for six months and then need to be renewed.

What should be included in an AST?

Certain details should be included in an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. These are:

  • the names of the landlord and all tenants
  • the amount of rent and how the rent should be paid
  • details about when the rent will be reviewed
  • the amount of rent deposit and how the deposit protection scheme used
  • details of when the deposit can be fully or partly withheld, such as damage
  • the address of the property being rented
  • the start and end date of the tenancy
  • any obligations on the part of the landlord or tenant
  • a summary of bills the tenant is responsible for

Additional resources:

Photo of stone rented houses in a row.
As a landlord you can include extra clauses in you AST but you are still bound by the law regardless of the contract. Photo © Graham Robson (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Additional and optional clauses in an AST

There may also be additional causes included in an assured short-hold tenancy agreement, such as when and how the tenancy agreement can be terminated early, details about property access and subletting, and who is liable for minor repairs outside the responsibilities of the landlord.

Assured shorthold tenancy notice

As a landlord there are two situation types for ending an AST with a tenant. These are with no reason or with a good reason.

Ending an AST with no reason

An assured shorthold tenancy can be ended for no reason if the period of the tenancy agreement has ended and:

  • the rent deposit has been protected in a deposit protection scheme
  • the date you ask the tenant to leave is at least six months after the tenancy agreement began, usually when they first moved into the rental property

Ending an AST early with a reason

As a landlord you can only end a tenancy early which is covered by an assured shorthold tenancy agreement if:

  • The tenant has breached the agreement (such as not paying the rent)
  • The tenant has used the property for illegal reasons
  • The tenant has caused real damage to the property

As a landlord in England, you must give at least two months’ notice to the tenant in accordance with the Housing Act of 1988. In general, you cannot end an AST early within the first six months of the tenancy.

Photo of some small ow cost houses rented to tenants in England.
If you do intend to end an AST early, take legal advice before taking any action. Photo © Trevor Littlewood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Break clause in an AST

Even if there is a break clause, as a landlord you must wait until the clause comes into effect before giving the required notice to the tenant. You do not have the automatic right to take possession of the property within the first six months of an AST.

We highly recommend you take legal advice before attempting to terminate any assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

It is critical that, as a landlord, you stay within the bounds of the law. In addition, you are bound by the law, as are the tenants rights, regardless of what is in any tenancy agreement.

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