This is a new series looking at different types of tenancy agreements.
Assured shorthold tenancies
If you are renting a property – either as a landlord or as a tenant, most likely it is an assured shorthold tenancy, or AST.
Under the Housing Act 1988 most new tenancies will be an assured shorthold tenancy, unless it comes within one of the exceptions set out in Schedule 1 of the act (I’ll be looking at those later).
So YOUR tenancy will probably be an AST too.
Anatomy of a tenancy agreement
As this is the first article in this series, I will quickly outline the various parts of a tenancy agreement which need to be present. These are:
1. The preamble
This is not necessary but is often useful. In the old days it used to be prefixed with the word ‘Whereas’. Its purpose is to make general statements about the tenancy.
The start of the tenancy is also a good place to put general things or clauses that you really want people to notice, as they are more likely to read them there. I generally use it to state what type of tenancy it is (in this case an assured shorthold tenancy).
2. Tenancy specific information
By this I mean things which will be different from tenancy to tenancy, such as the address of the property, the length of the fixed term, the names of the parties, the rent, the deposit etc
3. Landlords and tenants ‘covenants’
These are things which the parties promise to do or not to do.
For example tenants covenants include paying the rent, looking after the property, not using it for running a business etc. Landlords covenants include the covenant of quiet enjoyment and the statutory repairing covenants (both of which will actually be part of the tenancy whether they are written in the document or not).
Generally the list of tenants covenants is MUCH longer than the list of landlords covenants!
Although actually in my tenancy agreements I generally organise clauses according to the subject matter of the clause (payment, deposit, health and safety, ending the tenancy, etc) rather than just having a long list of all the landlords and then the tenants covenants in no particular order.
4. Other clauses
There will usually be quite a lot of other clauses, generally about how the tenancy is to work, for example regarding arrangements at the end of the tenancy, dealing with the deposit, and so on.
5. Signature clauses
These appear at the end and are very important as by signing a tenancy agreement (or ‘executing’ it to use a bit of legal jargon), landlords and tenants agree to be bound by its terms.
You need to be very sure you are happy with a tenancy agreement before you sign it as once this is done you may not be able to cancel it. For example tenants only get a cooling off period in very limited circumstances.
Note by the way that reading a tenancy agreement will not always give you the full picture and they can sometimes be misleading – I explain why here.
It is good practice to try to ensure that your tenancy agreement is NOT misleading and has all the proper things in it.
Points about Bog Standard AST agreements
- They are intended for situations where one person rents a property or
- Where several people sharing all sign the same tenancy on a ‘joint and several’ basis
- Most tenancy agreements that are given away for free will be bog standard ASTs
- But be careful as they will not always be suitable for YOUR particular tenancy
Next time I will be looking at ASTs for a room in a shared house.
NB If you want to check what tenancy type is suitable for YOUR property visit my Which Tenancy Agreement Guide. All Landlord Law members can create unlimited tenancy agreements via our Document Generator service.