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Tenancy agreements

Types of tenancy

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There are two common types of tenancy and tenancy agreement that apply to the overwhelming majority of non-commercial properties, where the annual rent is less than 25,000. These were created under the 1988 Housing Act, which was amended in 1996:

Assured tenancy

Assured tenancies are normally associated with public or council housing and often allow provision for the lessee (person renting the property) to eventually buy the property. An assured tenancy can be either a fixed term tenancy or on a contractual periodic basis.

Fixed term assured tenancies

Fixed term assured tenancies are fixed for a set period of years or months.

The landlord and tenant agree on the rent that will stay the same unless they both agree to change it. The landlord cannot seek to increase a rent for which there is no rent review mechanism for a fixed term tenancy.

If you, as the tenant, wish to contest the increase in rent, you should contact the Rent Assessment Committee within 28 days of receiving the notification. You lose this right of appeal if you have an assured tenancy with a rent review clause that states how and when the rent will be reviewed.

The landlord can only raise the rent at the end of the fixed term if he gives one months notice. He or she will have to provide the tenant with written notification stating the proposed new rent and the date that it will come into effect.

Contractual periodic tenancy

A contractual periodic tenancy runs indefinitely on a periodic basis. Tenants have no right to a fixed fair rent and there is no set time frame so the tenant is able to stay on the property indefinitely. This is known as having security of tenure.

With all assured tenancies, the tenant has long term security of tenure, meaning that he or she cannot be forced to move out of the property unless the landlord can prove to a court that he or she has grounds for gaining possession of the property. Legally, there are 17 such grounds for a landlord taking possession of a property. Find out more.

Nowadays, all new private sector tenancies are deemed to be assured shorthold tenancies unless the agreement explicitly states otherwise or the landlord gives written notice that it is not. The assured shorthold tenancy was introduced to encourage landlords to let property, by reducing worries over security of tenure. This type of tenancy is the most common and is more landlord friendly, since it is not so difficult to regain possession of the property.

Assured shorthold tenancy

An assured shorthold tenancy does not have any minimum required duration, unlike tenancies granted before February 29, 1997, which had to be for at least 6 months. However, the courts cannot grant order of possession during the first 6 months. The tenant must leave at the end of a fixed term that is specified in the agreement.

Assured shorthold tenancies are agreed on a fairly simple basis, with only the duration of the term, the amount and frequency of rent payments being stipulated requirements for the agreement. Most assured shorthold tenancy agreements will go into more detail than this, but that is at the landlord's discretion.

The tenant still has the right to ask the rent assessment committee to determine a rent for the tenancy. The committee is made up of a solicitor, a surveyor or expert valuer and an ordinary lay person. The committee will normally disregard any claims unless it can be shown that the landlord is charging more than other landlords offering similar properties for rent in the same area. The rent is therefore determined by market prices. The landlord will usually have the right to raise the rent at the end of a fixed period - usually either 6 months or one year.

The courts must grant the landlord possession if he or she applies for it at the end of the fixed term. The landlord is able to make an agreement with the tenant to take up another assured shorthold for a fixed or periodic tenancy. However, if the landlord wishes the tenant to vacate the property, then at least two months notice must be given, in writing, to the tenant.

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