Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST): a Landlord’s guide

Update: Assured Shorthold Tenancies and the Renters’ Reform Bill

Before we delve into the details of Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), it’s crucial to highlight a significant legislative development on the horizon. The upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill, currently in legislative proceedings, is set to bring transformative changes to the private rental sector. Among these reforms is the planned abolition of ASTs. This proposed shift is part of broader changes aimed at providing increased security and fairness to renters. As such, while this article provides an overview of ASTs as they currently stand, it’s important to be aware that this landscape is likely to undergo significant changes in the near future. We will provide updates as the Bill progresses and the implications for landlords and tenants become clearer.

In your role as a landlord, the term “Assured Shorthold Tenancy”, or AST, is bound to crop up in your conversations with tenants. An AST, guided by the Housing Act 1988, is a widely utilised type of tenancy agreement and operates as the default legal contract. This guide intends to offer a comprehensive understanding of AST, its advantages, the legal necessities, and suggestions for landlords on safeguarding their interests.

Understanding Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

An AST is a kind of tenancy agreement that presents landlords with a legal structure for letting their property to a tenant. It’s the most frequently used type of tenancy agreement in the UK, usually employed for residential properties. Generally, AST agreements last for a fixed term, typically 6 or 12 months, providing landlords with a significant amount of flexibility regarding setting rent, renewing tenancies, and reclaiming possession of the property.

AST agreements afford landlords a degree of certainty and predictability concerning rental income. They also confer tenants with security of tenure, meaning that, provided they adhere to the terms and conditions of the agreement, they have the right to stay in the property for the length of the tenancy agreement.

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Legal Essentials of an AST

Compliance with the legal necessities of ASTs is vital for landlords. These requirements cover aspects such as deposit protection, rent increases, evictions, and maintenance duties. Not adhering to these legal obligations can lead to expensive legal disagreements and even penalties.

For instance, it’s a legal requirement for landlords to protect a tenant’s deposit within a government-approved scheme. Furthermore, landlords are obligated to present tenants with specific legal documents at the tenancy’s onset, called Prescribed Information.

Forming an AST Agreement

When drafting an AST agreement, it’s crucial to include certain essential elements to safeguard your rights as a landlord. These elements include outlining the tenancy’s terms and conditions, such as rent payments, deposit protection, and termination notice periods.

It’s equally crucial to outline the tenant’s responsibilities, including keeping the property neat and tidy, promptly reporting any necessary repairs, and avoiding causing damage to the property.

By clearly defining terms and conditions within the AST agreement, you can prevent disputes and legal issues further down the road.

You can find templates for assured shorthold tenancy agreements on numerous websites. Here are a few options: The UK government’s website offers a standard assured shorthold tenancy agreement template that you can download and modify for free to suit your unique needs. 

LawDepot: LawDepot provides a free assured shorthold tenancy agreement template that you can download and alter. They also have a premium version with additional features. 

Rocket Lawyer: Rocket Lawyer gives a free assured shorthold tenancy agreement template that you can download and modify. They also have a premium version that includes legal advice and support. 

Simply-Docs: Simply-Docs provides a variety of legal documents, including an assured shorthold tenancy agreement template. You can download and adjust the template to suit your requirements.

Home Made serves as an excellent solution to your letting requirements, ensuring complete legality and comprehensive coverage.

Advice for Landlords

To safeguard your interests and guarantee a smooth tenancy, it’s important to heed some practical advice as a landlord. This includes rigorous tenant screening, regular property inspections, promptly addressing repair requests, and maintaining open communication with tenants.

Thoroughly screening tenants can help you avert potential issues down the road, like unpaid rent or property damage. Regular inspections can help you detect any problems early and rectify them before they become serious issues.

Maintaining open communication with tenants helps establish a positive relationship and ensures any issues are promptly and effectively addressed.


For landlords, comprehending AST agreements is crucial to safeguard their interests and guarantee a smooth tenancy. By meeting the legal necessities of AST agreements and clearly defining terms and conditions in the agreement, landlords can avert disputes and legal complications in the future.

If you’re uncertain or concerned about your legal responsibilities as a landlord, it’s essential to seek professional advice. Following the advice laid out in this guide can contribute to a successful tenancy for both you and your tenants.

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Sam has a wealth of experience across the private landlord and Build to Rent sectors. He has advised a wide range of clients across the whole of London on how to find great tenants, improve their assets and effectively market their properties for the best returns.

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