Short-term letting agreements: finding the right document

Article reference: UK-IA-RES21
Last updated: September 2022 | 4 min read

As everyone knows, residential tenancy law is stacked against the landlord. One slip - and you might lose your right to repossession. At the very least, you may have to pay large legal fees to recover possession.

That is why it is important to use the right type of legal agreement - one that gives you as much control over your property as possible.

You can approach a short term let in several ways:

Use an assur​e​d shorthold tenancy agre​ement

The most commonly used document to let residential property is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (abbreviated to 'AST'). The reason is that an AST is built around certain conditions laid down by Parliament that aim to give the tenants certain rights that can't be withdrawn in the letting contract.

If the agreement complies, then there is a route whereby the landlord can be certain that a court will support them if they have trouble obtaining possession at the end of the term.

For that reason, almost every residential tenancy agreement is drawn as an AST.

An AST can be agreed for any period of time (known as the 'term'), as long as it is fixed for at least six months. During this fixed term, neither side can end the arrangement, except if both sides agree.

When the fixed term of the AST expires, the deal will continue under the same terms, until either the landlord or the tenant decides to end it. Two months notice must be given to the tenant, but depending on the agreement, the tenant may have to give less.

Most landlords enter into the minimum six month term, then allow the tenancy to continue until one party or the other wants to end it. 

Let to a limited company

A limited company is not protected as a tenant. So if you can arrange a letting to a company, you can make it for any length of time and always be sure that you will obtain possession.

Of course, it will not help you if you let to your own company that then sublets to your renters. That company of yours will still have the same problems as you would have had as an individual.

A company let is useful when the occupier is an employee for whom his employer is paying for his accommodation.

You can download a company let agreement template from our library.

Use a licence agreement

An agreement that gives a licence to occupy does not grant the renter the same rights as under a tenancy.

However, the conditions that create a tenancy are laid down by Parliament and cannot be circumvented by what is written in an agreement. In other words, the terms in your licence agreement do not matter if the situation is a tenancy.

The arrangement cannot be a tenancy if the landlord also lives at the property for the majority of the time. So licence agreements are ideal if you are taking a lodger into your own home. Your lodger may occupy the room while you are in the property, or you may grant use of the whole property while you are away for short periods of time (such as for three months).

You can download residential licence agreement templates for letting to a flatmate, housemate or lodger.

A holiday letting agreement

A holiday house letting agreement is a licence to occupy, but on terms that clearly indicate the nature of the agreement is temporary and short term.

It is suitable for letting for periods up to three months for holiday purposes. If the let property is or becomes the main residence of the occupier, the landlord may have great difficulty in obtaining possession if the occupier refuses to leave. It is therefore most important to make sure day occupier really does have a permanent home elsewhere.

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