Which tenancy agreement do I need?

You’ve got your rental property and found your tenant – all you need to do is get them to sign a tenancy agreement. But which one do you need.

If you’re a landlord who thinks tenancy agreements are unnecessary, think again! A tenancy agreement is vital as it sets out the rights and obligations between you and your tenant and, as a result, protects your property and your finances. But you must use the correct tenancy agreement for the right type of tenancy concerned.

Lawpack has a wide range of tenancy agreements, including assured shorthold tenancy agreements, non-assured shorthold tenancy agreements, short assured tenancy agreements, company let tenancy agreements and lodger agreements. But which tenancy agreement should you use?

ENGLAND & WALES

AST or non-AST?

Most tenancies in England & Wales are assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) and are regulated by the Housing Act 1988.

Some tenancies are exceptions, however, and you may need to use a non-assured shorthold tenancy agreement if any of the following applies:

  • The rent is at the rate of over £100,000 a year
  • The tenant is living in self-contained premises in the same building as you
  • The tenant is a limited company
  • The property isn’t the tenant’s main home (e.g. a weekend cottage)
  • It’s a holiday let

Find out more about non-AST tenancy agreements and which one you need to use below.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

Assuming your tenancy is an AST, slightly different forms of tenancy agreement need to be used depending on whether:

  • there is one or more tenants living in the whole flat or house, or
  • there are a number of tenants who all have separate tenancy agreements for their own room, with shared use of the rest of the property

Lawpack has the following AST tenancy agreements you can use:

Unfurnished Tenancy Agreement / Furnished Tenancy Agreement

You can use either of these AST tenancy agreements if you, as the landlord, don’t live at the property. Both tenancy agreements can be used for a single tenant who occupies the property on their own, or a group of tenants who jointly occupy the property and share responsibility.

If the tenants are sharing and sign this tenancy agreement as a group, it’s best if they are all family or friends as problems can arise if you’re letting to people who don’t know each other and they want to leave the property at different times. 

Tenancy Agreement for a Room

It may be preferable for you to get them to sign a tenancy agreement for their individual room, which gives them shared use of the rest of the property. When giving your sharing tenants a separate tenancy agreement, it’s best to use a non-resident house share/flat share agreement.

This tenancy agreement can be used if the tenant is living in a room in the property where you, as the landlord, are not resident.

Under this AST tenancy agreement, the tenant has exclusive occupation of their designated room and will share the use and facilities of the house or flat (e.g. bathroom, toilet, kitchen and sitting room) with other occupiers of the furnished property.

Non-Assured Shorthold Tenancy

In England & Wales non-assured tenancy agreements are also known as ‘common law’ tenancy agreements as they are governed by underlying common law and are not regulated by the Housing Act 1988.

Lawpack has the following non-AST tenancy agreements you can use:

Contractual Tenancy Agreement (Non-Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement)

This non-AST tenancy agreement (for England & Wales) should be used if:

  • The annual rent exceeds £100,000 a year
  • The premises being let is self-contained accommodation in a property that has been converted from a single property to multiple units (e.g. a house converted into flats), where you (the landlord) live
  • The property isn’t the tenant’s principal home (e.g. a weekend cottage)

This common law tenancy agreement can be used for a single tenant who occupies the property on their own, or a group of tenants who jointly occupy the property and share responsibility.

Company Let Tenancy Agreement

This Company Let Tenancy Agreement should be used if you want to let a house or flat in England or Wales to a company.

This common law tenancy agreement should be used where the tenant is a company and the occupier of the property is an employee or visitor of the company, with their family.

What if I use an AST by mistake?

If you accidentally use an AST instead of a common law tenancy agreement, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean that your tenant isn’t entitled to live in the property and doesn’t have a proper tenancy. But some parts of the tenancy agreement – those relating to the AST – will be misleading and could cause problems later down the line (e.g. you may have difficulty evicting the tenant at a later date).

Other letting agreements

Holiday Letting Agreement

This rental agreement can be used if you’re letting out a furnished property in England & Wales on a holiday let basis (e.g. for a limited period or holiday). It can be used with most types of holiday let properties (e.g. a house, apartment, flat, caravan or cottage).

The Holiday Letting Agreement is specifically excluded from the Housing Act 1988, so tenants have no security of tenure and must vacate the property at the end of the fixed term, or if found to be in breach of the terms of the Holiday Let Agreement.

Lodger Agreement

You can use this Lodger Agreement when you want to rent a room in your furnished home and are happy for the lodger to share the common parts of the property (e.g. bathroom, toilet, kitchen and sitting room) with you. But this Lodger Agreement can only be used in situations where the property is your principal home.

SCOTLAND

Short Assured Tenancy (SAT)

SATs are similar to ASTs in England & Wales. You can use a short assured tenancy agreement if you, as the landlord, don’t live at the property.

Lawpack has the following Scottish SAT tenancy agreements you can use:

Unfurnished Tenancy Agreement / Furnished Tenancy Agreement

Both of these SAT tenancy agreements can be used for a single tenant who occupies the property on their own, or a group of tenants who jointly occupy the property and share responsibility.

Included with these tenancy agreements is Form AT5 (Scottish Notice of a Short Assured Tenancy) and a Repairing Standard provisions template letter. Under Scottish law, you must give your tenant both these documents before the SAT tenancy agreement is signed and dated.

Tenancy Agreement for a Room

This tenancy agreement can be used if the tenant is living in a room in a furnished property where you, as landlord, are not resident.

Under this SAT tenancy agreement, the tenant has exclusive occupation of their designated room and will share the use and facilities of the house or flat (e.g. bathroom, toilet, kitchen and sitting room) with other occupiers of the property.

Again, this tenancy agreement includes Form AT5 (Scottish Notice of a Short Assured Tenancy) and a Repairing Standard provisions template letter.

Other letting agreements

Holiday Letting Agreement

This agreement can be used if you’re letting out a furnished property in Scotland on a holiday let basis (e.g. for a limited period or holiday).

It can be used with most types of holiday let properties (e.g. a house, apartment, flat, caravan or cottage).

The Holiday Letting Agreement is specifically excluded from the Housing Act 1988, so tenants have no security of tenure and must vacate the property at the end of the fixed term, or if found to be in breach of the terms of the Holiday Let Agreement.

Lodger Agreement

You can use this Lodger Agreement when you want to rent a room in your furnished home and are happy for the lodger to share the common parts of the property (e.g. bathroom, toilet, kitchen and sitting room) with you. But this Lodger Agreement can only be used in situations where the property is your principal home.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Private Tenancy

Lawpack has a Northern Ireland Tenancy Agreement which complies with the regulations that apply to private residential tenancies in Northern Ireland. 

This private tenancy agreement can be used for a single tenant who occupies the property on their own, or for a group of tenants who jointly occupy the property and share responsibility.

The terms and conditions included in this tenancy agreement meet the legal requirement in Northern Ireland that a ‘Statement of Tenancy Terms’ must be given to the tenant. Plus it includes a Property Inventory of Furnishings, which all tenancies are required to have by law in Northern Ireland.

TENANCY AGREEMENT TIPS

Are they valid?

Tenancy law does not stay still, so it’s important that your tenancy agreement is up to date. All of Lawpack’s tenancy agreements are revised quarterly and as all the forms are downloads, you can download the latest changes instantly.

Completing the tenancy agreement

You need two copies of the tenancy agreement - one signed by you and one signed by the tenant (although generally both landlords and tenants sign both). 

If the tenancy agreement is signed before the date the tenant is due to go in, it should be signed as a deed – this means that the signatures should be witnessed by someone independent.

Keep it safe

Once the tenancy agreement is signed, make sure you keep your copy of the tenancy agreement in a safe place. If you ever need to take your tenant to court, you will need it!

Published on: March 28, 2012

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