At what stage to sign AST and accept payment of deposit/first month's rent

I am a long distance landlord and will get the new tenants to sign the AST electronically. I will do the check out of the old tenants myself but the checkin of the new tenants will be done by the inventory clerk.

My new tenants have passed all references and paid a holding deposit. Now have to proceed to AST signing and payment of deposit and 1st month’s rent.

When do landlords actually sign the AST - as soon as referencing is completed or do you wait till the day they move in (conflicting advice on other forums)? Also when do you accept payment of the 1st month’s rent/security deposit - before the move in or on the move in day?

I ask because I have seen conflicting advice and wondered how experienced LL on this forum do it.

Many thanks

Don’t sign until they are about to move in
Once signed there is a point of no return ( I have had a tenant turn as soon as I signed the contract and then it’s too late… 6 months of hell ensued)
Take all payments upfront before anything is signed

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Thanks. I wonder how tenants feel about paying upfront without signing the contract first? Seems a bit difficult to justify taking everything upfront without signing AST. Just wondering how you explain it to the tenants

I am in the room with them
The money is handed over or transferred. As soon as it is I sign
They can take it or leave it but don’t sign until you have the money
If you feel anything underfoot pull out and walk away
I have sit in the living room and refused after doing all the paperwork and it’s turned very aggressive. I have still refused
They tell you a story and if it changes from what they originally told you that’s a red flag
The truth does not change. People don’t remember their lies
When they call back to ask me to change my mind I remind them of how they spoke to me and ask them not to call back and I block them
This is your investment and it is down to you to protect it
If you sign you are legally bound and you have to give the key if the payment of rent and or deposit is not made
You will be the victim of their scam
The law is not in your favour so you have to do everything to protect yourself


A-A totally correct be very sure all monies first No excuses. No lies.

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So just to clarify…you take the holding deposit beforehand then agree a move in date. On the day of move in, you get them to pay 1st month rent and deposit then sign AST?

My concern would be that

a) you haven’t given the tenants time to look through the agreement and read it properly before signing. It presumably has to be signed there and then as you will be handing over keys

b) what if there is a guarantor and they are not present at move in ie can’t sign the AST in your presence? Does that backup of a guarantor completely change the process ie make it less risky?

If they want to read a contract first then send a specimen blank one to them… I take CASH rent CASH deposit both sign and I give keys . WHEN you do this is up to you.

Legally you send the contract in advance
I asked my solicitor this the other week
He replied 3 days is a push 5 days is reasonable
I actually give it a couple of weeks (they are signing 20 pages of stuff!)
The guarantor should come to the property too ( you should check their equity etc too)

The guarantor should get as much time as the tenant to read the contract
I intentionally delay the signing so they get a week and email correspondence offering them more time to read and mull over the contract so there is no comeback
Ideally all parties should be physically present
Email the contract in advance so you know when the got it
I ask a neighbour to witness the signatures
I am reticent to digital signatures as their has been a lot of associated fraud
I do with students as obviously a parent miles away may not come to sign
That being said most parents turn up with their children
If we use docusign I do it through the estate agent
Tessa S advised to get wet signatures
If they can’t they come with a witnessed signature wet and a copy of their passport so you can match the signatures

The NRLA have a foundation course
I would advise you to attend

I send the tenants a draft of the contract a week or so before they are due to move and ask if they’re happy with it. I make clear in the email that any tenancy is subject to contract.

I ask for funds in advance in my account before they move in and send them proof of ownership of the property to give them confidence in this. Only one tenant has ever questioned it and I made clear that I would accept cash on the day, (although I prefer not to have to do this)…

The final version of the documents are signed on the day and the keys handed over.

Being a long distance landlord doesn’t work unless you or an agent you trust completely can be there to sign everything and take them through the check-in process.

ap2048 I am a tenant and I would have no problem sending it over before contract was fully signed however I will admit I once had a long distance LL and I asked if I could pay by PayPal and he agreed. It was just to cover myself in case he wasn’t genuine because you can get rental scammers in the form of bogus landlords and they don’t even own the property. It’s a shame you don’t have anyone you trust to take receipt of the deposit in person.

It shouldn’t be that hard for any genuine tenant to follow due process:

1 If they want the property the holding deposit lasts one week
2 They receive the AST 5 days in advance at the start or during the holding period and ending at the end of the holding period. This means they receive, read and return the signed AST within the week of the holding period.
3 They pay all due monies
4 If the property is empty they receive the Inventory. If tenancies are more or less an out/in with time for inventory , they receive it on moving in.
5 You only hand over keys which have been agreed
6 I normally set the scene by adding a welcome letter inside and a bottle of wine.
7 It is reiterated they call you for anything property concerns (or your agent) and inspections will be quarterly in the first year. (you may decide 6 monthly) but as I do not know the tenant, this tends to ensure we all take the same road to a successful tenancy. After the first year you make your decisions on the periodicity of the inspections, but do at least one.
8 I have my independent website with individual property / tenant access where all documentation and links to appropriate websites is kept should they be unable to find the paper copies provided. They sign on the AST to acknowledge this which helps us all and ensures there can be no question of any documentation provided or where to look for many things appropriate to the property.

With a tenancy it’s a two way contract, looking after the tenant provides better relationships and longevity of tenancies, hence less voids.