All the documents you need to let under an AST
Each of these documents creates an assured shorthold tenancy. There is little difference in the basic terms. We provide variations simply to make it easier for you to take the exact version you want and use with minimal editing.
To make property management easier, each of our agreements includes another eleven commonly used notices, forms and letters, each with its own notes and the notices with draft completed text.
That makes the pack extremely convenient for a landlord or an agent and extremely good value.
With each AST agreement template, we include:
Form 6A: which is gradually replacing Section 21(1) or (4) notice to terminate a tenancy
a Section 8 notice for possession
a security deposit rent receipt
a form to record the details of the deposit protection scheme
a letter warning of late payment of rent
a letter claiming rent arrears
a letter to the Housing Benefit Department
a draft inventory (with explanatory notes on how to use)
a cold weather letter to remind tenants to ventilate and heat the property
a smoke and carbon monoxide detector release letter and form
Strong legal protection for landlords
Residential tenancy law favours the tenant rather than the landlord. No agreement can get round that. So as a landlord, the key to letting safely is to have a document that protects your rights as strongly as possible within the framework of the law. That is what we provide in our agreements.
The documents are delivered to you in two Microsoft Word files, so that you can easily edit, print and separate the pages to use when you need them. The file format is compatible with most word processing software. We can also convert to other formats on request.
Help with editing the document
Each document has its own extensive and acclaimed Net Lawman notes.
At Net Lawman we are manic about using plain English. Your tenancy agreement is jargon-free, with punctuation, and in short sentences. That is what makes it so easy for you and your tenant to understand.
Using plain English in no way reduces the legal effect of the document. In many cases it strengthens it, since if your tenant understands, he will have no excuse not to comply.
For multiple use by the same landlord or letting agent
There is no restriction on your personal use of this document. By all means standardise it and re-use for every house or flat you let. Just keep an eye open for a change in the law. When that happens come back to us for the latest version.
Is an assured shorthold agreement suitable?
The basic qualifying conditions for an AST are:
rent between £1,000 and £100,000 per year
letting period: at least 6 months to a maximum of 6 years
the tenant is a private individual and not a company
the property will be used for residential purposes only (not business or agriculture)
the tenant has exclusive occupation of the property
Just in case your deal fails to qualify, here are the details of other agreements you might use instead.
a common law tenancy: that is an agreement which fails to qualify in some way as an AST
a letting to a company: a company is not protected so you can easily obtain possession if the tenant or occupier is in breach.
a residential licence agreement, commonly known as a lodger agreement
a holiday property letting agreement
The law relating to these documents
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 have changed residential tenancy law. The documents in this pack comply with those regulations, the Housing Act 1988, the Housing Act 1996 and the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme introduced in April 2007 amended by these Regulations. They are regularly edited by our team, led by a solicitor.
Our each AST agreement allows you to comply with the 2015 regulations. We have inserted notes and guidance as to what documents you are required to provide to the tenant: a booklet: “How to rent: checklist for renting in England”, an energy performance certificate and a gas safety certificate.
Setting up your tenancy agreement
Joint and several liability
Every tenancy agreement we sell specifies that if there is more than one tenant, they are jointly liable. That means any one or more of them is responsible for the whole liability in the agreement. In particular, your tenants are jointly responsible for the total rent, even if they decide between themselves how to split payment of it. None can wriggle out by saying he has complied as far as his own share is concerned.
The advantage to the landlord of renting on a joint and several liability basis is that he or she can pursue any of the tenants for any unpaid rent. Effectively, the risk that one of the tenants might not pay the rent is transferred to the other tenants, not the landlord.
Over 35 tenant promises (covenants) and other options
No letting is quite the same - each situation requires different terms. In these agreements we give you a choice of over 35 tenant promises and restrictions so that you can customise your agreement exactly as you want. Of course, you can also choose to keep in or take out terms that you would expect to be in such a template but might not need (such as a provision for guarantor and provision to use a separate managing agent) and you are given a choice to select which of the tenant deposit protection scheme you will be using.
Tenancy deposit protection schemes
These schemes were brought in to safeguard tenants’ deposits throughout the term. Provided that the terms of the agreement are met and that the property is not left damaged, the full amount of the deposit is returned to the tenant when he leaves the property.
A landlord using an AST agreement is required by law to comply with the deposit protection scheme. (You can also use the scheme if you are renting a room to a lodger in your own house under a residential license agreement. Not only will it reassure your lodger that his deposit is safe, but the schemes offer a free service to resolve disputes.)
To avoid arguments about what was in the property at the start, the parties should agree a detailed schedule of condition, listing every item of fixture, fitting and furniture and providing a note of its condition. Once you have agreed the inventory of the contents of your property, there is less room for dispute.
“How to rent: checklist for renting”
Under the 2015 regulations you are required to provide this booklet to the tenant. This is a guide that will help the tenant to understand what his rights are, what responsibilities he has and how to get help if things go wrong. This will help you create a positive relationship with your tenant.
The regulations have not defined a set procedure or format as to how you should provide it to the tenant. This is for you to decide. It could be in hard copy, soft format or through email.
Letting a single room
Thousands of rooms are let every year under a simple residential licence to occupy, rather than an AST. We can advise you categorically that this is a dangerous approach.
There are two reasons why you should not. In the first place, most of the obligations of a landlord also apply to a licensor - so there is no escape there. Secondly, single people are likely to be young and the personal circumstances of a young, single person are likely to be more flexible, fluid and uncertain than those of someone older. That means a student who finds himself with nowhere to go at the end of his term is more likely to claim that he has a tenancy and that, accordingly, the landlord cannot evict him. The moral for a landlord is: always use an AST.
We offer alternative agreements for letting a single room: one is explicitly for students and the other for anyone else.
The student version is constructed around the academic year, so that you ask for rent at a time when the student can pay. This is the best insurance against a student leaving before the final payment has been made and when you cannot re-let for a short period.
The student version also makes no provision for a deposit. To some students, an argument with a landlord about a deposit is a fair fight, leaving the landlord in a position where he has to choose between fighting back, probably over several months, or losing accreditation with university accommodation bureaux. What is more, the compulsory deposit system also tends to tie up the landlord’s money. If you take money up front and forget about a deposit, you know where you are.
The alternative single room version closely follows the model of the other versions.
Insist on a guarantor
There is no need for a separate guarantor agreement
The guarantor provides a promise to pay rent unpaid by one or more of the tenants and also for any loss or damage caused by the tenant. We include provisions for a guarantor within each document. You do not need a separate rent guarantee document.
In these agreements, we place the guarantor on the same basis as the tenants. So if the tenants are jointly and severally liable, the guarantor will be as well.
A guarantor is unlikely to be happy to guarantee the rent of tenants he or she does not know (such as in the case of parents guaranteeing the rent for a property in which a child lives with other friends). It is perfectly possible - and easy - to cap the amount guaranteed. But that only serves to transfer risk back to the landlord.
The landlord might prefer not to bring in the guarantor, but instead ask for more rent in advance, or a larger deposit.
Make sure you check tenant references thoroughly as well
Enforcing a guarantee is time consuming and costly. Landlords are better to treat them as a tool to remind tenants to pay than as full security. Including one doesn't reduce the need to vet tenants well before they sign an agreement.