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Basic requirements: ASTs

This content applies to England

The basic requirements for an assured shorthold tenancy created after 27 February 1997.

Requirements

All tenancies that meet the requirements of an assured tenancy (see the section on Assured tenancies) and are created on or after 28 February 1997 will automatically be assured shorthold tenancies, unless they come under one of the exceptions listed. [1]

Unlike assured shorthold tenancies created between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997, tenancies created on or after 28 February 1997:

  • do not require a pre-tenancy notice (section 20 notice)
  • can be periodic from the outset because there is no requirement for a fixed term
  • can have a break clause (see the page on Break clauses and notices for more information about break clauses in tenancy agreements) during the first six months, even if there is a fixed term.

The landlord and tenant can agree to a fixed term of any duration or to a periodic tenancy from the start.

Although there is no requirement for a six-month fixed term, a landlord cannot evict an assured shorthold tenant within the first six months of the tenancy (unless there is a breach of the tenancy agreement and the landlord seeks possession under one of the grounds available against all assured tenants - see the section on Assured tenancies for more information).

A landlord can give notice and obtain a possession order within the first six months (using the assured shorthold tenancy notice-only ground), but the possession order cannot take effect until six months have expired from the start of the tenancy. See the pages on Ending an assured shorthold tenancy for information on a landlord's powers to evict assured shorthold tenants.

Written statement of terms

An assured shorthold tenant whose tenancy was created on or after 28 February 1997 may ask the landlord in writing to provide a written statement of certain terms of the tenancy.[2] These terms are:

  • the date of the start of the tenancy
  • the rent payable and the dates of payment
  • any provision for a rent review
  • if the tenancy is a fixed-term tenancy, the length of the fixed term.

The landlord has to provide the information within 28 days. If the landlord fails to do this, s/he can be fined up to £2,500; prosecution is by the local authority. The landlord does not have to provide the information if it has already been provided and the terms have not changed.

Provision of prescribed information

This requirement only applies to ASTs granted in England on or after 1 October 2015. 

A landlord must provide a tenant with a copy of the government guide How to rent: the checklist for renting in England. A paper copy of the guide must be provided unless the tenant has notified the landlord or agent that s/he is content to accept service of notices and other documents by email. A landlord is not required to provide a further copy if the tenancy is renewed or if the guide is updated.[3] 

A landlord who fails to provide a tenant with a copy of the guide cannot serve a valid section 21 notice to end an AST. The requirement to give the tenant the guide can be satisfied at any time before the notice is served. For further information see Restrictions on the use of section 21.

A landlord that is a private registered provider of social housing is exempt from the requirement.

Deposits

From 6 April 2007, if a tenant pays a deposit in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy, or renews an assured shorthold tenancy on which s/he has previously paid a deposit, the deposit must be protected under a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme.[4] If the deposit is not protected, the landlord may have to pay a penalty, and the section 21 notice procedure will not be available to her/him (see the pages on ending an assured shorthold tenancy for details).

See the pages on Deposits for more information on tenancy deposit protection schemes.

[1] s.19A Housing Act 1988, as inserted by s.96 Housing Act 1996.

[2] s.20A Housing Act 1988, as inserted by s.97 Housing Act 1996.

[3] s.21B Housing Act 1988, as inserted by s.39 Deregulation Act 2015; reg 3 Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/1646.

[4] s.213(1) Housing Act 2004.

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