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Short assured tenancies

This page explains what your rights are if you have a short assured tenancy with a private landlord or a letting agency.

What is a short assured tenancy?

If you rent your home from a private landlord or a letting agency then you will probably have a short assured tenancy if:

  • your tenancy started after 2 January 1989, and
  • the place where you live is rented as a home, and
  • it is your only or main home, and
  • you received a special notice (an AT5 form) before the tenancy started telling you that it is a short assured tenancy, and
  • your tenancy is for at least six months.

The City of Edinburgh Council have a sample short assured tenancy agreement on their website if you want to have a look at an example of what one looks like.

You don't have to rent the whole property, you may just rent a room or part of the property. However, if you are sharing the accommodation with your landlord, you will not have a short assured tenancy.

What is an AT5?

An AT5 is the special notice that your landlord must give you if they want your tenancy to be short assured rather than assured. You must be given an AT5 before you move into the property or it will not be a short assured tenancy. The form should be properly completed or it will not be official.

If there is more than one tenant on the tenancy agreement, each tenant must receive a copy of the AT5.

You can download a sample AT5 form

If you have not received an AT5 notice stating that you have a short assured tenancy or your tenancy is for less than six months, you will probably have an assured tenancy

Tenancy agreements

You have the right to a written tenancy agreement. It should:

  • state the length of time the property is being let for
  • state the amount of rent due and when it should be paid
  • tell you if the rent can be increased and how it will be calculated
  • say who is responsible for decoration and repairs to the inside and outside of the property
  • state if there are any conditions or restrictions to the use of the property
  • state that you have the right to have a market rent determined by the private rented housing panel.

In addition to these rights, you also have responsibilities. If you don't fulfill these you may face eviction.

Tenancy deposit schemes

Your landlord or letting agent must register your deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days of your tenancy starting.

Tenant information packs 

If you are a new tenant, from 1 May 2013, then your landlord will have to provide you with a tenant information pack.

The tenant information pack provides information about property condition, tenancy agreements, and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.

If your landlord  does not provide you with a tenant information pack at the start of your tenancy then they could be fined £500. 

What happens when my tenancy runs out?

Your tenancy agreement will say how long you have rented the property for, for example, six months or a year. At the end of that time, your tenancy will automatically renew itself unless:

  • you give the landlord written notice that you want to leave at the end of the tenancy (see 'what if I want to leave' below), or
  • your landlord gives you written notice that they want you to leave the property.

If your landlord has given you notice saying that they want you to leave, please see the section on eviction.

If neither you nor your landlord has given notice, your tenancy will renew itself. This will be for the same length of time, unless your tenancy agreement says that it will be for a different period.

For example, your tenancy agreement might say 'the property is let for a period of six months and then monthly thereafter'. This would mean that your tenancy agreement would be for six months and that it could renew itself one month at a time after that.

If the tenancy was for more than a year, it can only renew itself for a year.

There is no need for a new AT5 each time the tenancy renews itself.

What if I want to leave?

Before you can leave, you must give your landlord written notice.

If you want to leave before your tenancy has run out or you are in a period when it has renewed itself, you will need to check if you can arrange to leave before the end of the tenancy. It should state on your tenancy agreement whether you can do this and if so, how much notice you have to give.

Even if this is not mentioned on the tenancy agreement, you may be able to come to an arrangement with your landlord.

If you cannot reach an arrangement with your landlord, you will have to give notice stating that you wish to leave when the tenancy runs out.

The minimum notice you have to give is (if the notice is not stated on the lease):

  • 40 days if your tenancy is for six months or longer
  • 28 days if your tenancy is continuing on a month to month basis after the original period has expired.

The minimum notice is based on how long it says the property was let for on your tenancy agreement. It is not based on how long you have lived in the property.

If you leave the property without giving notice or before your notice has run out, you will still be responsible for the property and for any rent that you are due to pay. If your landlord has to take any legal action, you could also be responsible for any costs that they have to pay.

Can my landlord come into my home without warning?

Your landlord can only come into your home at times that have been agreed on your tenancy agreement, or by giving reasonable notice.

There are special rules if your landlord needs to come in to do repairs or to inspect the condition of the property. They or someone acting on their behalf must give you at least 24 hours notice in writing that they intend to come round.

If you do not agree to having work done in the property, your landlord can go to court to ask the sheriff to grant a court order telling you to let them in.

Rights to repair

Your landlord is responsible for keeping the property wind and watertight and in a condition that is safe and comfortable to live in, and for ensuring that the repairing standard is met. This is a basic level of repair that is required by law. Your landlord must also provide you with information about the repairing standard and what you can do if your home is not up to standard. The section on repairs explains this is more detail, and looks at what you can do if your landlord refuses to carry out repairs.

If you wish to carry out work on your home, such as redecorating or installing a second phone line, you must get permission from your landlord first. Some tenancy agreements will include a clause telling you if you can carry out any work. If you rented your home as furnished you might find our page on furniture and equipment helpful.

Rights to information

If you rent from a letting agency or an agent, you have a right to know who your landlord is. If you want to know who your landlord is, you should request this in writing. You should receive a note of your landlord's name and address within 21 days. It is a criminal offence for the landlord or letting agency to withhold this information.

If your landlord changes, you should be given the new landlord's name and address before the next day that the rent is due or within two months of the change, whichever date is later.

Can I sublet my home or take in a lodger?

Your tenancy agreement might state whether or not you can sublet part of your property. If this is not mentioned in your tenancy agreement, you must ask your landlord for permission.

If your tenancy agreement says that you can sublet, you should still contact your landlord to discuss this with them.

Can I pass my tenancy onto anyone else?

There may be a clause in your tenancy agreement stating whether you can pass on your tenancy to someone else. This is called assignation. It may also state what steps you must follow before you can pass your tenancy on.

If you cannot find this in your tenancy agreement you must get permission from your landlord first.

What happens to the tenancy if the tenant dies?

If the tenant dies, you can take over the tenancy if:

  • the tenant was your husband, wife or civil partner.
  • the tenant was someone who was living with you as your husband, wife or civil partner.

This is called succession.

There are some restrictions to succession:

  • You must have been living in the property as your only or main home when the tenant died.
  • The tenancy can only be passed by succession on one occasion.

The landlord can ask the new tenant to leave when the tenancy runs out.

What if I have a complaint?

If you have a complaint about a private landlord, try talking or writing to them first. If this doesn't work, you may want to get advice from a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice, your local council or other local advice centre. Use the Advice Services Directory to find an agency in your area. Some councils have a tenancy relations officer who may be able to help.

Joint tenancies

It is possible to have a joint tenancy with other tenants so long as one of you lives in the property as your only or main home. However, it's up to your landlord to decide whether or not to grant a joint tenancy.

The important points

  • If you received an AT5 form, before you moved in, and the lease is for at least six months then you have a short assured tenancy.
  • If you are a new tenant then your landlord will have to provide you with tenant information pack.
  • You must give your landlord written notice if you want to leave the property.
  • Your landlord can only come into your home at times that have been agreed on your tenancy agreement, or by giving you reasonable written notice.
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