AST start date when it's signed 2 weeks before occupation date

I am looking to get the tenant to sign the OpenRent AST 2 weeks before move in date and hand over of keys.Because there is a medium risk with the tenant payments I have agreed 4 months rent upfront on a 7 month AST all guided by Open rent.Once the tenant signs the AST two weeks before actual start date there any risks with tenant pulling out before the start date.In summary is the AST binding from the date they sign ?

Once you hand over the keys, then its arguable that the tenancy begins immediately. Why do you want to do this?

The question relates to the legality of someone signing a contract two weeks before moving in - is it binding.I am trying to avoid a time waster who I have committed to (I’ve stopped advertising) pondering on life over the next two weeks before moving in and just saying ‘I’ve changed my mind’.

I read somewhere on this blog site that someone had signed a contract and then the tenants wanted to get out of it.

So any help on AST legality and it being actually binding would be helpful.

We live in a world where no one has scruples or integrity; the tenants would have no idea that I stand to waste time and lose 2 week’s rent because of their potentially fickle interpretation of a signed agreement.In my opinion an signed agreement should be binding … not sure whether it would be legally enforceable.

If they have signed a contract then the contract is binding.

Enforcing it would be another matter.

If they have paid a deposit, you would have an argument for keeping it. If they have not paid a deposit then you’d likely struggle to get any money out of them.

But, better to let them pull out officially so you can relet and lose 2 weeks rent than hold them to the tenancy and get nothing for months until it is sorted legally!


Many thanks most helpful.That was my interpretation.You never know with some people these days - they get excited by the prospect of being a new tenant - we honour it wait weeks only to find they change their mind.Thanks again

Its not advisable and if you ever need to evict them, their legal rep could argue in court that you have the wrong start date for the tenancy in order to frustrate the process.

there speaks the voice of experience and pragmatism couldnt have put it better

if you have the money and you have given them all the paperwork and signed up why not they can pick up the ctax bill. some say no but i have done it lots of times and they can maybe move some stuff in early. i assume it is vacant of course

I don’t understand this. If you use Rent Now the contracts ARE signed before the start date, surely. I am about to organise a tenancy today that will have a move in date of 8th April, agreed with both parties. The tenants have notice to give on their old place and I am advised to not hand keys over until the AST starts.

Thanks to all who have commented,Several people identifying with same scenario.The tenants don’t want to move in until the agreed start date in April.

The original query was whether having signed a legal document (ie Open Rent AST Template) on a date 2 weeks before move in date.

My concern was can they change their mind between the signed document date and the agreed start/move in date 2 weeks later ?

The tenants are paying 4 months rental up front and the deposit all within a 7 month AST.I’m happy to proceed but I did see something on here with a similar question but I can’t seem to find it with any definitive answer.Thanks to all who have commented.

They can theoretically change their mind at any time and some people do. Unfortunately, you are subject to the whims of folk and there is nowt stranger than them. Cross that bridge if you come to it, because you certainly cannot control it.

Some very knowledgeable LLs already commented here. I would summarise by saying a tenancy starts once the tenants have (unhindered?) possession of the property. Every tenancy I’ve ever given was signed and money transferred before possession granted. Sometimes up to a three weeks beforehand. Deposit money lodged with DPS on the day the tenant takes the keys. You’re just going to have to ride out the two weeks of will they/won’t they. Or, choose tenants that don’t cause you anxiety even before they’ve moved in.

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Very helpful reply - many thanks.I see it all comes down to trust in the end.

In a situation where there is a chronic shortage of houses/apartments to rent, I can’t see why you allow the tenant to dictate such a long move-in date. My stance is that if you want to rent my property you’ll have to rent it from now or else it will go to someone else. I would certain not hold the property for someone unless I really like them and willing to take the risk of a change of mind. So bottom line is, the property is let to you and I don’t care when you move in as long as the vacancy period does not affect my Building and Landlord insurance.

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In an area where potential tenants are often on low wages and/or topping up with UC I think making them have a crossover where they effectively pay double rent is unfair.

I have just set up a tenancy where the chosen applicants quite rightly wanted to give 4 weeks notice on their current place. As it happens, the actual start date we have negotiated is about a week early thus enabling them the flexibility to move their stuff over slowly. I wouldn’t have insisted though.


My view is its fine to sign early, and I do that all the time…but NEVER hand over the keys until the date the tennancy agreement states as the ‘rent from’ date. I’ve never had anyone want to cancel, so do not know of the enforceability of the contract in the circumstance

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