Landlords and tenants have seen legislation act like a giant pendulum when it comes to the rights of both parties and it was the Rent Act 1977 that really swung it to the side of tenants. However there were some unwelcome side effects. Freehold land costs increased as prospective landlords purchased instead of rented as they had no desire to risk never see their properties returned to them in their own lifetimes. By the late eighties, only 7% of all housing stock was privately rented. Added to all this was a major recession and it was easy to see why the private rental sector needed its fortunes reversing, not least to step into the gap left by councils who were not only selling their stock under Right to Buy but were not replacing them by building new stock.

So what did Government do to try and revive a stagnant rental market and entice landlords? They created the Assured Tenancy but landlords weren’t happy with this because a) they did not go far enough in reviving the rental market which is what they were created for and b) landlords didn’t didn’t get an automatic right to get their property back at the end of the tenancy agreement. So the Government created the Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is now the most common form of tenancy agreement in the UK with an initial fixed term of 6-12 months but if the tenancy is not renewed it becomes a periodic tenancy of monthly or weekly duration depending on how the rent is paid.

Landlords are now able to obtain what is called accelerated possession under s21 and if a tenant is in arrears it allows the serving of a s8 notice.

Tenants with this kind of agreement also have the right to have their deposits protected in an approved deposit protection scheme.

The tenancy is not an AST if:

  1. It began before 15th January 1989;
  2. Rent comes to more than £100,000 per annum;
  3. Rent is less than £250 a year – this becomes £1,000 in London;
  4. It’s a business tenancy;
  5. It’s a tenancy of licenced premises;
  6. It’s a holiday let;
  7. The landlord is a local council;
  8. The landlord lives on the premises.


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