Assured shorthold tenancies usually last for 6 or 12 months and give you the right to have your deposit protected and receive notice of eviction.
You should get an assured shorthold tenancy contract to sign before your tenancy starts.
Your contract tells you how much rent to pay, who is responsible for repairs and how long the tenancy lasts.
You are committed to paying the agreed rent for the length of your contract. This is usually six months or a year.
At the start of an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord takes a sum of money as a deposit in case the property is damaged or rent is unpaid when you leave.
Your landlord has to protect your tenancy deposit in a government approved scheme.
Your deposit should be returned at the end of your tenancy.
Your landlord can make reasonable deductions from your tenancy deposit if you cause damage or don't pay the rent.
Make an inventory
You and your landlord should agree an inventory of your rented home.
Take photos of the inside and outside of your home and any existing damage and repairs that are needed.
Having an inventory can help resolve any disputes about deductions from your tenancy deposit at the end of your tenancy.
Your landlord cannot increase the rent set out in your contract during the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy, unless your contract says when it can be increased.
You may be able to claim housing benefit to help pay some or all of the cost of your rent if you are working and have a low income or if you claim benefits.
Your landlord is responsible for most repairs. This includes repairs to:
- the roof
- walls, windows and doors
- wiring and plumbing
Tell your landlord or letting agent if repairs are needed.
You must allow your landlord access to your home to carry out repairs but your landlord must give you reasonable notice.
Taking care of your home
Take care of the property and carry out day-to-day tasks. For example, you might need to unblock a sink, change lightbulbs and clean windows.
Check your contract for any extra responsibilities, for example maintaining the garden or communal areas.
Leaving or staying
You have a number of options when your contract comes up for renewal.
- ask your landlord for a new fixed term contract if you would like to stay longer – if you do this you may have to pay renewal fees and your landlord has the right to increase your rent.
- leave at the end of the fixed term – if your contract says that you must give notice that you intend to leave, you should do this to avoid disputes
- stay beyond the fixed term even if you don't sign a new contract – your agreement becomes 'periodic' and rolls from month to month with the same rent.
- leave before the end of the fixed term – your contract may include a 'break clause' which gives you this option. If it doesn't you'll need to negotiate with your landlord
You have some protection from eviction. You don't have to leave immediately because the landlord tells you to.
The landlord must get a court order to evict you. Your landlords must also follow set procedures to evict you.
Do you have an assured shorthold tenancy?
You probably have an assured shorthold tenancy if you rent from a private landlord.
If you moved in between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 your landlord had to give you a notice before your tenancy started saying you have an assured shorthold tenancy.
You probably have a regulated tenancy if your private tenancy started before 15 January 1989.
Ask an adviser if you have any questions or concerns about your tenancy or contract.
Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.