What is an assured tenancy?
Most private landlords will let their property on an assured shorthold tenancy or AST. But there are other options including an assured tenancy. The main difference between assured and shorthold tenancies is the security of the tenant. With an AST the landlord has right of possession after serving notice on the tenant.
But the landlord must obtain a possession order to evict a tenant from an assured tenancy. And securing a possession order is far from straightforward. The private landlord must prove in court the eviction is 'reasonable'.
In reality, an assured tenant more or less has a tenancy for life. As long as the tenant abides by the tenancy agreement and pays their rent.
Assured tenancies in more detail
In many respects an assured tenancy is similar to an AST:
- There must be a tenancy agreement.
- The landlord must protect the tenant's deposit.
- The landlord is responsible for repairs to the structure of the property including walls, external doors and windows.
- The landlord must ensure appliances and services are in good condition and safe to use.
- There must be a valid energy performance certificate.
- If there is gas in the property the landlord must have a gas safety certificate.
- The tenant is responsible for minor repairs in the property.
- The tenant must pay rent as scheduled in the tenancy agreement.
- The tenant must live in the property as their main residence.
However, as we mentioned earlier where an assured tenancy differs is in the security of the tenant.
An assured tenancy begins as a fixed-term. This could be anything from a year to five years or more. Once the fixed-term ends the tenancy rolls over into a periodic tenancy unless the landlord and tenant agree to a new fixed term.
But the tenancy can only be ended in three ways:
- The tenant surrenders the tenancy with the landlord's agreement.
- The tenant serves the landlord with a notice to quit.
- The landlord gains a possession order to evict the tenant under section 8. But the landlord must prove to a court the eviction is reasonable. This is why it's so much harder to evict a tenant from an assured tenancy. And if the landlord attempts to evict the tenant without a court order they'll be committing a criminal offence. Grounds for eviction
To evict a tenant from an assured tenancy the landlord has to go to court. But there are mandatory and discretionary grounds for eviction.
Mandatory grounds include:
- The tenant owes more than eight weeks rent.
- There has been anti-social behaviour resulting in a conviction for the tenant or family member.
- Redevelopment of the property.
Discretionary grounds can include:
- Rent arrears.
- The tenant is consistently late paying the rent.
- The tenancy agreement was broken.
- Damaging the property.
- Anti-social behaviour.
But discretionary grounds can be difficult to prove and in many cases, the court will impose a suspended possession order. This allows the tenant to remain in the property as long as they abide by conditions set by the court.
Why would a private landlord even think about an assured tenancy?
Many assured tenancies are legacies from the revision of the Rent Act in 1988. It's highly unlikely a private landlord today would consider offering a tenant an assured tenancy. Times have changed. The days of secure tenancies when a tenant would stay in the same property for life are mostly gone.
The vast majority of tenancies are now ASTs. And for most private landlords they work very well. And for very good reasons. Tenants tend to want shorter lets and the landlord wants to be able to take back possession of the property when it suits him or her. Not when it suits the tenant. Nowadays it's unlikely to be in the interests of the landlord to let their property on an assured tenancy.
But if you are looking to let your property on a long-term basis than you may consider an assured tenancy. If you’re hoping to install a tenant for five or ten years or longer it could be an option. After all, it provides the tenant with more security and they will feel they can really put down roots. A tenant is more likely to commit to a long term let if they have the protection of an assured tenancy.
But, everything being equal, an assured shorthold tenancy should be the preferred option for private landlords.
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