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Residential tenancies - overviewResidential tenancies
It is extremely important to understand exactly which type of tenancy has been granted. When bringing a possession action, the type of tenancy will determine which notices need to be served, and which (if any) statutory regime applies to protect the tenant's occupation. Lettings in the public sector are known as 'secure tenancies' because they generally provide the tenant with a high degree of security of tenure compared with private sector tenancies. Secure tenancies were introduced by the Housing Act 1980 and its provisions have since been consolidated into the 1985 Act. Many local authorities have transferred their housing stock to registered social landlords (RSLs) such as housing associations.
Assured and assured shorthold
Most RSL tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs).
With effect from 28 February 1997, the AST is the default or automatic tenancy, and it is no longer necessary to serve a separate s 20 notice on the tenant. If the landlord lets a property on an assured shorthold, it is entitled to, and guaranteed, the right to regain possession at the end of the term as long as it follows the statutory notice requirements:
the landlord must give two months' notice that possession is required
possession will only be awarded after six months
where notice is given in respect of an AST that has become a statutory periodic tenancy following expiry of the initial contract, or where the tenancy was granted as a periodic tenancy, the landlord's notice must expire at the end of a period of the tenancy
The AST tenant may apply to a rent assessment committee to have the rent reduced if they consider the rent to be significantly higher than the rent for comparable tenancies in the area.
With the ordinary assured form of tenancy, the tenant enjoys greater security of tenure and this type of tenancy is still used by many public sector landlords such as housing associations. The tenant has the right to remain in the property unless the landlord can prove particular grounds for possession. There are 17 such grounds provided by the Housing Act 1988. The most common grounds that may be utilised are that:
the landlord wishes to move back into their own home
the tenant is in arrears with their rent
the tenant is in breach of one or more of their obligations under the tenancy
the tenant (or their visitor) is guilty of causing a nuisance
Unlike an AST tenant, an ordinary assured tenant has no right to refer the rent to a rent assessment committee during the initial agreed tenancy. Tenancies set up after 15 January 1989 and before 28 February 1997 were automatically deemed to be ordinary assured unless the landlord served a s 20 notice on the tenant.
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