What should be in your Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement?
One of the most crucial pieces of the lettings jigsaw for self-managing landlords is a good Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement that features fair and workable terms for both tenant and landlord. Here’s our top tips outlining some best practice of what your AST should contain once you have managed to find a tenant.
Signed, sealed, delivered? Ensure each of your tenants has signed the agreement once it has been drawn up and agreed and that they also each get a copy – that way they can’t claim ignorance later.
Rent Be clear about how much the rent will be and most importantly when it will be paid – exact dates are best; avoid vagueness such as ‘first week in the month’. Also, make it clear how and when the rent may be put up.
Fixed term State what the ‘fixed term’ of the agreement is – most run for either six months or a year.
Bills Say who is responsible for the bills – for tenants it’s normally the water, electricity, gas, telephone, internet, TV channel subscriptions and council tax. Also set out how these bills are to be settled before they move out.
Joint tenants If your tenants are signing a joint assured short term tenancy agreement then ensure the contract highlights how they are each responsible for each the other’s rent. Also, make it clear what happens in the agreement if one of the joint tenants wants to move out early.
Lodgers Set out whether your tenant/s can have other people living with them other than the signatories on the agreement – otherwise you may soon have their partners/friends/nieces etc staying and your property will get heavy use.
White goods Be clear about who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of a property’s fridge/freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher. These may be considered essential these days in lettings but just because a landlord supplies them doesn’t mean they should be responsible for their upkeep.
Penalty charge clauses An example would be one requiring the tenant to pay the landlord’s overdraft fee if the rent is not paid on time. These are common, but watch out; if unfair or designed to make money out of the tenant then your agreement may be in breach of The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.
Garden State who is responsible for the upkeep of the garden/outside space and that is must be kept ‘as was’ when they moved in and any tools supplied will be part of the inventory.
Access Insert a clause allowing you to conduct an inspection of the property every six months – rather than you the landlord having to ask permission, which if they are not looking after the property may prove difficult.