An Assured Shorthold Tenancy or an AST is currently the default form of tenancy in England between private landlords and housing associations, and private tenants. They are in the process of being abolished by the Renters Reform Bill.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies at a glance
What are the requirements for an AST?
These are the requirements for a letting arrangement to be an AST in England:
- The tenancy started on or after 15 January 1989
- The property is the tenants’ main home
- The landlord does not live in the property
- The rent must be more than £250 a year (£1,000 in London), and under £100,000.
- It must not be a business tenancy or a holiday let.
- The tenant cannot be a company.
It’s not possible for the tenant to be a company or another organisation.
Fixed term v Periodic tenancies
Assured Shorthold Tenancies tend to have an initial fixed term period of six or twelve months, after which the parties can renew the agreement for a further fixed term.
However, they can also be a periodic tenancy from the start, running on a week-by-week or (more commonly) a month-to-month basis.
If a fixed term tenancy isn’t renewed for another fixed term, assuming the rent is paid monthly, the tenancy will convert automatically to a rolling monthly contract, called a periodic tenancy.
The tenant can then terminate the tenancy by serving one month’s notice, whereas the landlord needs to give a minimum of two months’ notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
Click here to find out more about periodic tenancies in England.
What’s the equivalent of tenancy agreements in Wales?
On 1 December 2022, tenancy agreements in Wales were replaced by occupation contracts. They’re pretty much the same as ASTs, apart from the nomenclature. But the devil’s in the detail and the transition arrangements are complex.
Click here to find out more about Welsh occupation contracts and the conversion and transition arrangements for landlords.
How will the Renters Reform Bill affect Assured Shorthold Tenancies?
The Renters Reform Bill published 17 May 2023 contains a clause abolishing assured shorthold tenancies.
What will happen when assured shorthold tenancies are abolished?
When the Renters Reform Bill comes into effect, all existing assured shorthold tenancies will automatically convert to assured tenancies on the second implementation date.
All private tenancies will also automatically become periodic (and not for a fixed term) after this date, and any clause in a tenancy agreement which attempts to create a fixed term will be invalid.
Government guidance says that the second implementation date will be at least 18 months after Royal Assent.
Click here for more details on the timetable of the implementation of the Renters Reform Bill.