A tenant is someone who is the occupier of a leasehold estate, someone who occupies land or property that they rent from a landlord, and a tenancy is the agreement between the landlord and the tenant giving them the right of occupancy.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) are most commonly used by landlords to let residential properties to private tenants. ASTs are typically for a period of six months but can be longer. After this initial period landlords are able to evict their tenants without any legal reason given.
The criteria that is set for ASTs can be found in The Housing Act 1988 which are:
- The property must be the tenant’s main place of residence.
- The landlord must be a private landlord or housing association and not live in the property.
- The tenant must be an individual not a business or other non-person.
- The property cannot be let as separate accommodation.
A tenancy cannot be an AST if it is more than £100,000 a year, less than £250 a year (£1,000 in London), a holiday let, or if the landlord is a local council.
The AST contract must be signed before the tenancy starts and should inform the tenant of the rent payable, the duration of the tenancy and who is responsible for the repairs.
At the start of an AST the tenant would pay the landlord a deposit which would be returned in full or part at the end of the tenancy. The deposit must be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.
The landlord would not be able to increase the rent during the fixed term of the AST unless it is agreed with the tenant, or there is a rent review clause included in the contract. This clause will state when the review will take place, the amount of notice the tenant will receive, and how the increase of rent will be calculated.
In contrast, an Assured Tenancy (AT) provides tenants with much greater security in the long term, as they are able to stay in the property until they choose to leave or the landlord gains possession on one of the grounds listed in The Housing Act 1988. This would mean for the landlord to wait for a certain condition that has not been met which enables them to seek a possession order, for example rent arrears.
The main difference between the two tenancies is that an AST gives the landlord an automatic right to regain possession after the initial fixed term period, as long as they provide reasonable notice. Whereas, with an AT the landlord does not have this right which provides the tenant with greater security.
Prior to February 1997, ATs were the most common types of tenancies used by landlords, but now they are rarely used as landlords prefer to use AST as it allows them to gain possession without giving any legal reason and no need to show proof of a condition not met in the contract.
This said, some ATs can be created inadvertently if the right procedure is not followed when entering into an AST.
If you are a landlord and wish to know more about your eviction rights and proceedings, please do contact our team who can assist you.
By Tauyabba Mohammed