Most residential lettings in England and Wales are arranged as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) – an agreement introduced by the Housing Act 1988, and subsequently updated by the Housing Act 1996. When an AST is established, the document everyone signs to agree terms is often referred to as an AST as well.
You can download a OpenRent’s free AST here:
Despite being defined in law, not all ASTs are the same. Although tenancy agreements tend to look broadly similar there can in fact be quite a lot of variation in language and structure. The reason for this is that there’s often a trade-off between being broad enough to cover all aspects of a tenancy, being specific enough that there aren’t any loop-holes which inadvertently permit bad behaviour, and having a contract that is understandable and reasonable for all parties.
There’s also a lot of variation in price: a search on Google turns up a few free ASTs, WHSmith sell a template for 7 quid, and some high street letting agents charge several hundred pounds. So is it worth paying big bucks in order to get a quality document, given that the future of your property could be at stake?
As if often the case in property, the answer is no. Price is a pretty poor indicator of quality – and a much better indicator of how much someone thinks they can get away with charging you at a particular point in time!
The OpenRent AST draws on industry best practice to balance the considerations above – it’s broad reaching, protects the interests of both landlords and tenants, and is currently in force in hundreds of tenancies across the country. Feel free to download a sample copy of our Free Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement – For Entire Premises, or if you use our Rent Now service you’ll also benefit from digital signing, which makes the process secure, convenient and much faster! Once your tenancy is under way you can also access all your tenancy documents including the AST from your OpenRent Manage tab.
Individual Tenancy Agreement
If you’re renting out rooms in a shared property and are renting to individuals who don’t already know each other or who will be moving in on different dates, you might be interested in our Individual Tenancy Agreement for Shared Houses.
A regular (Joint Tenancy) AST names all tenants on the same agreement and no tenant has exclusive possession of any part of the property – they are all jointly liable for looking after the property and paying the rent. This is easily the most common form of AST used today. With an Individual Tenancy each tenant signs their own, separate agreement with the landlord. This means each tenant has exclusive possession of a specific room in the property, as well as access to shared facilities like the kitchen, bathroom, lounge, etc.
If you advertise an individual room on OpenRent, we’ll assume you want to create an Individual Tenancy, but you should only use this type of agreement once you’ve understood the considerations for doing so. These are a brief summary of the pros and cons of using an Individual Tenancy rather than a Joint Tenancy:
- Flexibility and convenience – tenants can move in and out on different dates without the need to sign new agreements with all tenants each time, re-register deposits, etc.
- Higher rent – the ability to rent out each room separately as well as the flexibility to allow shorter term contracts can often increase rental yield
- Right to enter – unlike a Joint Tenancy, the landlord has the right to enter common areas for inspections and repairs
- No joint liability – the joint and several liability created by a joint tenancy (whereby any one tenant can be held legally responsible for the unpaid rent, damage caused, or any other breach of contract by any or all of the other tenants) is its major strength; this is lost in the case of individual tenancies
- Tenant turnover – the flexibility for tenants to move in and out independently cuts both ways; a bad or incompatible tenant can drive out good ones who are free to cut them loose and move elsewhere
- Council tax and bills – these are the landlord’s responsibility under an individual tenancy so are usually factored into the rental amount – however if a tenant falls into arrears or defaults on their rent entirely, the landlord is still reponsible for paying for these under an individual tenancy
You’re of course very welcome to print out our tenancy agreements and use them offline. Alternatively why not list on OpenRent for free and benefit from digital signatures on these contracts, free referencing and deposit registration services? All that in addition to free listing on all of the UK’s biggest property portals! We’re committed to finding high quality tenants and handling all the admin to make the landlord experience as straightforward as possible.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions – you can reach our team on firstname.lastname@example.org.