Since 2014, the British government has supplied a Model tenancy agreement for an assured shorthold assured tenancy (AST) for use in the private rented sector in England and Wales. The tenancy agreement is available free of charge and is accompanied by guidance. Whilst it is a useful reference for private landlords and tenants, it is not always an appropriate solution. This article will explain when the government’s model agreement isn’t suitable and offer alternatives.
1. The model agreement is not suitable for all rental situations
The model agreement should not be used in the following situations:
- Social housing (local authority or housing association properties);
- Business lets (i.e. where the tenant is a company renting residential accommodation for its employees);
- Holiday homes;
- If none of the tenants will occupy the property as their only or principal home;
- Renting a room in shared premises, such as a bedsit (i.e. if the tenants are not, together, renting the whole of a house or a self-contained apartment within a block of flats);
- Lodger living in the landlord’s own home;
- Commercial properties (shops, offices, etc.).
If you fall into one of these types of tenancies, you can use Legislate to create:
- an assured shorthold tenancy which can be tailored for bedsits and hmos
- a licence agreement which is suitable for landlords taking on a lodger in their own home
- a holiday letting agreement for holiday lets
2. The model agreement is optimised for longer tenancies
The model agreement has been designed for landlords and tenants seeking a longer term tenancy of at least 2 years. The model agreement can be adapted for shorter 6 or 12 month fixed term tenancies by identifying and removing the relevant clauses but this is error prone and risky if you are not a solicitor or if you are not familiar with tenancy agreements. Legislate’s assured shorthold tenancy agreements are suited for all tenancies including shorter ones which have the option to convert to rolling periodic tenancy agreements. Legislate's AST also offers the option to introduce break clauses which are compatible with the other terms of the tenancy.
3. Tailoring the model agreement to your situation
Whilst the government’s model agreement provides clear guidance on what each clause means, it can be difficult to know how to then tailor the agreement to your specific situations. As a result, if you are not comfortable removing clauses yourself, it can be safer and easier to have an expert or a system tailor the agreement to you based on your situation for example if you would like to permit certain occupiers or pets. Legislate will configure the correct agreement for you based on your answer to simple questions. Legislate also provides easy to understand explanations of the clauses so that you understand the agreement which has been generated from your answers.
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4. Key dates and reminders
The model agreement includes a helpful checklist at the start with key dates such as the start date and end date. However, you will not be reminded of these dates unless you proactively extract them and put them in a calendar. It is also much harder to keep track of these dates if the contract stays in paper or scanned form. Expiry reminders are automatic when you use a platform like Legislate to create your tenancy agreements and these reminders can be configured based on your notification preferences. Moreover, Legislate helps both the landlord and tenant understand the number of months' notice required by each side to terminate the agreement.
5. Suite of documents
The suite of documents you’ll need to create for a tenancy agreement is broader than the model agreement. For example, a landlord will have to provide a how to rent guide as well as serve a section 21 to seek repossession of the property. Amendments are not uncommon which is why Legislate also offers a tenancy amendment letter which is automatically connected with the tenancy agreement. A private landlord might sometimes require a guarantor if the tenant's income is not secure. Whilst the government provides these templates, it is more convenient to generate them from the same platform so that the information is seamlessly shared between documents, and makes it easier for a tenant to locate their key documents in one place.
6. Additional tips for landlords creating an assured shorthold tenancy agreement
Letting out a property yourself or with letting agents is an experience which can be improved thanks to a great contracting experience from the get go. Using a simple contract management solution like Legislate ensure that the terms of the agreement and the landlord and tenant's obligations are clearly understood as legal terms are presented without the legalese. In particular, a landlord and tenant can easily access their documents from a browser and access key information such as payment due dates, the tenancy deposit scheme used to protect the deposit, council tax responsibilities as well as compliance documents such as the gas safety and EPC certificates for the property. Clear contracts help avoid surprises or misinterpretations of the use of the property in particular with regards to subletting and the maintenance of common parts.
Whilst the model assured shorthold tenancy agreement is a great reference for landlords in the private rented sector, it is not always suitable based on the nature of the rental, its term and willingness of the landlord to adapt the agreement to their situation. Legislate offers on no legal budget a convenient solution for creating assured shorthold tenancy, lodger licence agreements and all the related documents which are tailored to your specific situations. If you would like to find out for yourself why Tenants prefer contracting with Legislate, watch a demo, book an introductory call or sign up today.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.