A tenancy agreement is usually agreed and signed before a property is let out. It is a contract between landlord and tenant(s) that sets out the terms and conditions of their rental agreement.
The type of tenancy you have is often printed on the front of your tenancy agreement, which will contain more details about your tenancy.
There are many different types of tenancy agreements and If you’re uncertain about the type of tenancy you hold, there is an excellent breakdown of the various types here.
The most common type of tenancy is the Assured Shorthold tenancy agreement:
Assured shorthold tenancy (AST)
The most common, standard form of tenancy in the UK is the AST. If you rent from a private landlord and there are not special circumstances surrounding your stay, you’re using this type of tenancy.
You can tell if your tenancy is AST, if the following is true for you:
- Your landlord does not live in the same property as you
- The property you rent is private and you pay rent to a private landlord
- You have control over your home and who visits your home
- You moved in on or after 28 February 1997
You do not have an AST if the following is true for you:
- It is a business let, holiday let, college accommodation, or tenancy of licensed premises
- It began on or before 15 January 1989
- The rent is more than 100,000 pounds per year
- The rent is less than 250 pounds per year (or less than 1,000 pounds in London)Your landlord is a local council
Assured Shorthold tenancies always start with a fixed term. Hence the “assured” part. The fixed term will be clearly described in the tenancy agreement. Usually, six or twelve months, the fixed term guarantees the tenancy for both the tenant and the landlord. Ending the tenancy in it’s fixed term can only happen two ways:
- If both parties agree to terminate the contract.
- If the tenant breaks the terms of the tenancy agreement, for example, if they stop paying their rent, the landlord can begin eviction procedures against them, using a Section 8 notice.
When the fixed term expires, the landlord can reclaim their property by serving the correct notice with sufficient time for the tenant to arrange their move, hence the “shorthold” part.
- The tenant can also choose to move out on their own with no obligation to stay past the fixed term.
- If both parties agree, the fixed term can be renewed.
- If no action is taken, the fixed term tenancy converts into a periodic tenancy which is more flexible for both sides.
- A periodic tenancy would continue indefinitely so long as the tenant and landlord both agree.
During the periodic term, the landlord can reclaim their property by serving a Section 21 notice, giving the tenants two months to arrange their move.
For an extensive breakdown of your rights and responsibilities using the Assured Shorthold Tenancy, please read The Tenant Voice’s guide here.