What is an AST?
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement is the most commonly used type of tenancy agreement in the UK. Most tenants have this kind of contract, unless certain exclusions apply – such as sharing a home with the landlord, tenancies that began before early 1997, and if the rent exceeds £100,000 per year or is under £250 a year (£1,000 in London).
So the chances are that if you’re renting a home in the UK, you have an AST agreement. What would happen if your letting agent lost the relevant paperwork, though?
A legally binding contract
When a tenancy agreement begins, this forms a contract between the tenant and the landlord. This is the case whether or not a written agreement has been signed, as an oral contract exists nonetheless. In England and Wales, landlords do not actually have to give tenants a written contract, but even without this they still have an oral contract.
A lost AST
The difficulty can arise if there is some sort of dispute regarding the agreement. If a written agreement either does not exist or cannot be found, then how would either side prove their case?
If a written agreement was drawn up, then it should have been signed by landlord and tenant. Each tenant should also have been given a copy. If this did happen and the landlord or letting agent did lose their copy, then the tenant should have their back-up copy to refer to. Even if this is not the case, both parties are still covered by the relevant law.