Assured Tenancy

An assured tenancy is a specific type of contract which regulates the occupation rights in property; it is recognised under the Housing Act 1988. A tenant who has entered into an assured tenancy is granted certain protections, in particular against eviction.

In order to qualify as an assured tenancy three conditions must be satisfied, they are:

That the property is a separate dwelling – this is to limit the scope of these type of leases to residential arrangements. Commercial leases are a whole different kettle of fish and cannot fall into this category. If the tenant is sharing the property with the landlord than it is not deemed to be a separate dwelling and they do not have an assured tenancy. If a tenant shares the property with other tenants they may have an assured tenancy for the part of the house which they enjoy sole occupation of such as their bedroom, but not for communal areas.

That the tenant is an individual – this does not mean that only one person can live in the property, there may be joint tenants if each of them are individuals. In other words a company or organisation cannot be the tenant.

That the property is let as the tenant’s principal home – tenants can own as many properties as they wish as long as the property in question in their principle home. This is a matter of fact which is decided on factors such as where most of their time is spent, where they keep furniture and clothing and the activities carried out in the property.

Types of assured tenancy

Fixed term tenancy – this does what is says on the tin, specifying a certain period of time, for which the tenant is bound to pay rent and the landlord to fulfil his duties. The usual period is 12 months but that can be made shorter or longer if the parties so wish.

Periodic tenancy – fixed term tenancies automatically become periodic tenancies after the term expires. These are rolling contracts each lasting one week or one month, they carry on indefinitely until one party takes action to end them.

Special rules

Sub-letting – this can only be done in a periodic tenancy with the permission of the landlord, who is under no obligation to say yes or to justify a refusal. Sub-letting without permission constitutes a breach of contract and the landlord may seek a possession order and ultimately eviction.

Death of a tenant – if this occurs during a fixed term tenancy the tenancy will pass, under the usual rules, to the tenant’s estate. If a tenant dies who is engaged in a periodic tenancy it will pass to their spouse if they were living in the property prior to the death.

Termination and eviction – this is the area where most protection is afforded to tenants. If the tenant has a fixed term tenancy the landlord must either wait until the end of the contractual term or activate a break clause. At such a time the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy and more hoops must be jumped through. If the tenancy has become periodic, or started off that way, then the landlord must obtain a possession order to evict the tenant. They must first serve a section 8 notice on the tenant which explains why they are seeking possession and allows a period of at least 2 weeks before starting proceedings.

Assured shorthold tenancies

These are a special type of assured tenancy, under which the granting of a possession order is guaranteed after the ‘shorthold period’ which is agreed between the parties.

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June 7, 2012