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GO TO:     HOUSING ACT - GROUNDS FOR POSSESSION

Please note that, unless otherwise stated, the contents of this page apply only to properties covered by the law of England and Wales, and is provided for general guidance only. Whilst every care is taken in compiling the answers Simply Rent cannot assume any legal responsibility for any inaccuracies, or for any loss or damage resulting from such inaccuracies, and readers should seek professional legal advice if necessary.

  1. What type of tenancy do I have?
  2. What is an Assured Tenancy?
  3. What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
    1. What is a Section 19A Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
    2. What is a Periodic Tenancy?
  4. What is a Licence?
  5. Are oral tenancies valid?
    1. Does my Landlord have to give me a written agreement?
    2. Does my Landlord have to confirm any details in writing?
  6. How can I end my tenancy and leave?
    1. What is a break clause?
  7. Does the Landlord or Agent have to return my deposit?
    1. How can I make sure I will get my deposit back?
    2. My Landlord won't refund my deposit - what can I do?
  8. What are my responsibilities for repairs to the property?
  9. Is the Landlord responsible for the gas appliances?
  10. Can the Landlord visit the property while I am renting it?
  11. Can I assign my tenancy (ie transfer it to someone else)?
  12. Can I have a joint tenancy with someone else?
  13. Can I take in a lodger or share the property?
  14. Can the Landlord increase the rent?
  15. Are there any good books you can recommend to Tenants?

1 What type of tenancy do I have?

This should be clear from the written agreement you have with your Landlord or agent. If you do not have a written agreement then the type of tenancy you have will be determined by the law.

If your tenancy commenced on or after 15 January 1989 your tenancy will almost certainly be one of the following:

If you are not sure what type of tenancy you have you should ask your Landlord or agent, but the following guidelines may help:

2 What is an Assured Tenancy?

Assured Tenancies are governed by the Housing Act 1988 and give Tenants security of tenure unless the Landlord is able to exercise one of the grounds for possession specified in the Act.

There is only moderate control over the rent which the Landlord can charge.

3 What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

Assured Shorthold Tenancies are a special type of Assured Tenancy.

Assured Shorthold Tenants have considerable security of tenure for an initial period, which will be six months unless a longer period is specified in the tenancy agreement, after which the Landlord has an absolute right to recover possession at two months notice. The Landlord can also recover possession if any of the grounds applicable to Assured Tenancies apply. There is only moderate control over the rent which the Landlord can charge.

3.1 What is a Section 19A Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

Section 19A of the Housing Act was introduced by the Housing Act 1996. New Assured Shorthold Tenancies are no longer regulated by Section 20 of the Housing Act 1988 although existing Assured Shorthold Tenancies will continue in operation.

Under Section 19A all new Assured Tenancies are assumed to be Assured Shorthold Tenancies unless they fall within one of the listed exceptions (one of which is that both parties agree it should not be an Assured Shorthold). The requirement to serve a Notice of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (normally called a Section 20 Notice) no longer exists, and there is no minimum length of the initial fixed term, although there are significant restrictions on the Landlord's right to possession within the first 6 months.

3.2 What is a Periodic Tenancy?

A Periodic Tenancy is a tenancy that is automatically renewed each "period" (normally each month) until either the Tenant or the Landlord does something to end it. Periodic tenancies are usually one of the following:

Statutory Periodic Tenancies

These tenancies usually come about when the fixed terms of Assured and Assured Shorthold tenancies come to an end but the Tenant stays on ("holds over") with the Landlord's consent. The terms of the tenancy remain the same. In the case of a periodic tenancy following on from an Assured Shorthold Tenancy the Landlord and the Tenant both have the additional right to end the tenancy by giving the required amount of notice
 

Contractual Periodic Tenancies

These tenancies usually come about when an Assured or Assured Shorthold tenancy is created with no initial fixed term. The tenancy runs on indefinitely until either the Landlord or the Tenant gives the required notice to the other (the Landlord can only end the tenancy in the first 6 months if he has grounds to do so.)

4 What is a Licence?

A licence permits the licensee to occupy the property.

If the property is transferred from one Landlord to another (eg by sale gift or death) the licence is not binding on the new owner. On the ending of a licence the Landlord has an absolute right to possession.

5 Are oral tenancies valid?

Oral tenancies (agreed by word of mouth) are valid providing that: It is always better to document a tenancy in writing so that there can be no doubt about the terms of the agreement.

5.1 Does my Landlord have to give me a written agreement?

No. If your tenancy is an Assured or Assured Shorthold Tenancy you can, however, request a written agreement once the tenancy has started.

5.2 Does my Landlord have to confirm any details in writing?

If your tenancy is an Assured or Assured Shorthold Tenancy you can require the Landlord to confirm certain details of the tenancy in writing. You should make your request to the Landlord in writing, and he/she must respond within 28 days. The details which the Landlord must confirm in writing are:

6 How can I end my tenancy and leave?

If your tenancy is an Assured or Assured Shorthold Tenancy you cannot end it until the end of any fixed term which is specified in the Tenancy Agreement, unless the Landlord agrees.

On the last day of the fixed term (if any) you can leave the property, whether or not you have told the Landlord you intend to do so. However, you should give the Landlord as much notice as possible as a courtesy, and in order to avoid any bad feelings. Once the fixed term (if any) has ended the tenancy will become a periodic tenancy if you remain in the property and the Landlord does not agree a brand new tenancy with you. In this case you can end the tenancy by giving the Landlord one month's notice in writing (if the rent is paid monthly) or 4 weeks notice (if the rent is paid weekly). If your tenancy is a Company Let you cannot end it early unless the Landlord agrees. If your tenancy is a Protected or Regulated tenancy the method by which you can end it will be specified in the lease.

6.1 What is a break clause?

A break clause in a lease or tenancy agreement allows either the Landlord or the Tenant (or both) to terminate a lease even if it has not run its full length.

7 Does the Landlord or Agent have to return my deposit?

Note: the rules for Tenancy Deposits changed on 1 April 2007; deposits taken and held by landlords and their agents in respect of tenancies which commenced on or after 1 April 2007 are regulated by law.

Once you have handed back your property in a satisfactory condition your Landlord (or the Agent) should return your deposit, providing that the rent is up to date. Your deposit should be returned by the deadline specified in the Tenancy Agreement (or if no deadline is specified within a reasonable time of you vacating the property - say 14 days).

Reasons why a Landlord or Agent may not refund your deposit are:

7.1 How can I make sure I will get my deposit back?

The best way to ensure that you will get your deposit back is to have a good relationship with your Landlord. Most Landlord's will overlook small problems with a Tenant who has been friendly, helpful and co-operative during the tenancy.

Other things which will help are:

7.2 My Landlord won't refund my deposit - what can I do?

First of all you should find out why he/she will not refund your deposit, and do something about it if you agree that it is your responsibility.

If your tenancy commenced (or was renewed) after 1 April 2007 you should read the documents that you should have been given when (or soon after) you paid the deposit - these will explain the procedure for raising a dispute with the deposit protection scheme with which your deposit is registered. If you were not given any documents relating to the protection of your deposit you should ask your Landlord (or Agent) which scheme your deposit is registered with and then contact that scheme.

If your tenancy commenced before 1 April 2007 and has not been renewed since then if you agree that some of the deposit should be held by the Landlord say so straight away; you should then get the rest back promptly. If you can't reach agreement with the Landlord or Agent you should write to them, demanding the return of your deposit (or the part of your deposit which you think they should return) within 14 days, making clear that you will put in a claim to the local County Court if you do not receive the payment by the deadline. If you do not receive your deposit by the deadline you should then consider making a claim via the County Court. You should remember that your deposit belongs to you; providing you can prove that you paid the deposit in the first place it will be for the Landlord or Agent to convince the Court that it should not be returned. Making a claim via the County Court is easy and relatively quick and cheap. You will not need to employ a solicitor. You get form "N1" and the associated notes from your local County Court, fill it in (which you will be able to do on the spot), and hand it in with the appropriate fee (eg 50 for a claim of 500 - the fee is added to the claim and you get it back from the Landlord if you win). The counter staff at the Court, or your local Citizen's Advice Bureau, will help you fill it in if you ask.

8 What are my responsibilities for repairs to the property?

The respective responsibilities of the Landlord and Tenant for repair and maintenance of the property should be specified in the agreement between them. If they are not the responsibilities will depend on a number of factors including the length of the tenancy and the date it commenced.
In general the Landlord will normally be responsible for:
You will normally be responsible for:

9 Is the Landlord responsible for the gas appliances?

Under the Gas Safety Regulations Landlords must:

10 Can the Landlord visit the property while I am renting it?

Landlords have a statutory right of entry to the property for inspection and repairs under the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Act 1988. The Landlord also has a right of entry under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 if the Landlord is obliged by Section 11 of that Act to carry out essential repairs. The Landlord's right to make reasonable visits to check the condition of the property is also normally included in the agreement with the Tenant.

The Landlord should always take care not to interfere with the Tenant's right to peaceably occupy the premises without interference, and should give notice of his/her intention to enter the property. Normally the Landlord should give you at least 24 hours notice, and only call at a reasonable time during the day or evening.

11 Can I assign my tenancy (ie transfer it to someone else)?

You should never assign or transfer your tenancy without seeking advice as you may lose your security of tenure and entitle your Landlord to repossession if you do so.

12 Can I have a joint tenancy with someone else?

Up to three people may be granted a joint tenancy.

In a joint tenancy each Tenant is jointly liable for observing the terms of the tenancy. If, for instance, one or more joint Tenants leave then the remaining Tenants have to pay the full rent.

13 Can I take in a lodger or share the property?

If the tenancy is an Assured Tenancy or an Assured Shorthold Tenancy you may take in a lodger, or share the accommodation with anyone else, unless the tenancy agreement specifically prohibits it (which it usually does).

If the initial fixed term has expired the Housing Act 1988 prohibits sub-letting.

14 Can the Landlord increase the rent?

If the tenancy is a Protected or a Statutory Tenancy the rent cannot exceed the registered amount for that property. If there is no registered rent a Tenant can apply at any time for an assessment.

If the tenancy is an Assured Tenancy the Landlord may initially charge any amount. The rent cannot subsequently be changed unless the terms of the tenancy agreement permit it, or, after the end of any fixed term, the procedure specified in the Housing Act 1988 has been followed. If the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy the Landlord may initially charge any amount. You may apply at any time to the local Rent Assessment Committee for a reasonable rent to be fixed, and any amount fixed will be the maximum chargeable for the remainder of the initial fixed term. At the end of the fixed term the tenancy will become a periodic tenancy, and the Landlord can normally increase the rent each year.

15 Are there any good books you can recommend to Tenants?

We have found that the following books contain information useful to tenants:

This page was last updated on 31 December, 2013 .
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