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The Assured Tenancy was introduced under Part 1 of the Housing Act 1988 and between January 1989 and February 1997, nearly all new private lettings (whether by a private landlord or a Registered Social Landlord) were classed as such. The protections under the Rent Act 1977 were removed, controlled tenancies were converted into regulated tenancies, and rent controls were removed for property let after 1988. Unless any alternative agreement at the start of the tenancy were made then they automatically defaulted to an Assured Tenancy.

However, this didn’t satisfy landlords because a) it didn’t revive the rental market as it was  hoped it would and b) they didn’t get an automatic right to the property after the tenancy ended. So Government created the Assured  Shorthold Tenancy (AST) under the Housing Act 1996 which came into effect from 28th February 1997.

A tenancy can be an assured or an assured shorthold if the following conditions are met:

  1. The landlord agrees to rent out accommodation with exclusive use the tenancy will almost certainly be an assured or assured shorthold;
  2. The landlord lives in a purpose-built block and rents out another flat in the same block they will not be a resident landlord and therefore the tenancy will be either assured or assured shorthold;
  3. The tenant has exclusive use of part of the accommodation but can also use other parts such as a communal living room or kitchen with someone who is not the landlord then the tenancy is likely to be an assured or assured shorthold;
  4. The tenant moved in between 15th January 1989 and 27th February 1997 but the landlord did not give a notice saying that the tenancy is an assured shorthold. If the tenant moved in after 27th February 1997 the tenancy can be an assured tenancy but only if a) a written notice was provided by the landlord before the tenancy started or b) if the tenant had a previous assured tenancy in the same accommodation with the same landlord. The latter is however quite rare.

A tenancy can’t be an assured or an assured shorthold if:

  1. It began, or it was agreed to begin, before 15 January 1989;
  2. The rent is more than £100,000 a year (from October 2010);
  3. The tenancy is rent free or for which the rent is £250 or less a year (£1,000 or less in Greater London)
  4. It is a business tenancy or tenancy of licensed premises (where alcohol is sold or consumed);
  5. It is a tenancy of a property let with more than two acres of agricultural land or a tenancy of an agricultural holding;
  6. It is a tenancy granted to a student by an educational body such as a university or college;
  7. It is a letting by a resident landlord, i.e. a landlord who lives on the premises such as a converted house. Even if the landlord rents out another part of it to a tenant, then again, the agreement is not an assured or assured shorthold, even if exclusive use is granted. The landlord doesn’t need to share any accommodation with the tenant to be held as a resident landlord – the fact that he lives on the premises is enough.
  8. It is a tenancy where the property is owned by the Crown or a Government Department: however, lettings by the Crown Estates Commissioners, the Duchy of Cornwall or the Duchy of Lancaster may be assured tenancies;
  9. It is a tenancy where the landlord is a local authority, a new town, a development corporation, a housing action trust, or a fully mutual housing association.

WHAT ELSE DID LANDLORDS GET?

Under s21 of the Housing Act 1988 (recovery of possession on expiry or termination of an assured shorthold tenancy) landlords were also allowed to get their properties back by serving a 2 month notice under what was known as accelerated possession. No explanation by the landlord to the tenant was required and no breach of the tenancy agreement had to have been committed by the tenant. Or the landlord for that matter.

Under the 1988 Act landlords were also provided a number of grounds which they could use to evict the tenant if they had committed a breach of the tenancy agreement.  But what were these grounds? The answer can be read here.

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