Assured Shorthold Tenancies
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy is the most common form of tenancy agreement in the UK. The reason for their introduction was that landlords felt the Assured Tenancy was still too favourable to tenants even though they offered less protection than the protected tenancy. The Assured Tenancy also hadn’t resulted in the desired recovery of the private rental housing market even though they could only be implemented with a minimum term of six months and if not renewed they became a periodic tenancy with the duration depending on whether the rent was paid monthly or weekly. It was the Housing Act 1996 that abolished this minimum rule by inserting a new section into the Housing Act 1988 (s19a) (assured shorthold tenancies: post Housing Act 1996) which meant that all assured tenancies entered into on or after 28th February 1997 are automatically assured shorthold tenancies with no minimum term.
An AST is granted under the following circumstances;
- The original tenancy started on or after 28 February 1997;
- The tenant is an individual;
- The dwelling is let as a separate accommodation;
- The dwelling is the tenant’s main or principal home;
- The Landlord does not live on the premises.
The tenancy won’t be an AST under the following circumstances as they are what are known as ‘common law’ tenancies and are outside the Housing Acts:
- The rent is more than £100,000 a year;
- The rent is less than £1000 a year in London or £250 a year outside London;
- The tenancy began before 15th January 1989;
- The tenancy was previously a protected tenancy;
- Business tenancies;
- Tenancies of licensed premises;
- Holiday let;
- The landlord is a local council;
- The landlord lives on the premises;
- Tenancies of property let with more than two acres of agricultural land, or an agricultural tenancy.
If there is no tenancy agreement then, if the tenant requests it, information in the form of a statement of terms must be provided by the landlord containing the following;
- The date on which the tenancy began;
- The rent payable under the tenancy and when the rent is payable;
- Any rent review term applicable to the tenancy; and
- In the case of a fixed term tenancy, the length of the fixed term.
ENDING A TENANCY
If the landlord wishes to evict a tenant who has a fixed term tenancy there are two ways to do it: either through serving a s21 notice (where the tenant has not breached the agreement) or, if the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement, by serving a s8 Notice.
If the tenant wishes to leave and has a fixed term tenancy, it can only be ended if the agreement says it can which means it has a ‘break clause’. The agreement will state when it can apply and it may have some conditions that have to be met such as not having rent arrears. Alternatively the landlord may agree to end the tenancy early.
If the fixed term has ended but and a new fixed term has not been agreed then the tenancy is a periodic tenancy where the rent can be paid weekly or monthly and notice can be given to the landlord at any time but again, the agreement will state what period is required.