Types of tenancy agreement and what they mean
Posted on 18th January 2021
Tenancy agreements are important documents that describe how someone can legally live in a property they don’t own. There are several types of tenancy agreement and it’s important to understand the differences.
Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs)
An assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement is the most common type. Most new tenancies with private landlords and housing associations will be ASTs if they started on or after 15 January 1989. The property must be the main accommodation for the tenant and the landlord must not live there.
However, ASTs aren’t allowed if the agreement started before 15 January 1989, or the rent is more than £100,000 a year or less than £250 a year (less than £1,000 for properties in London).
As the law stands, ASTs are typically given for a period of six months but can be for longer. After the initial agreed period, the landlord can require their tenant to leave.
ASTs don’t apply to a business tenancy or tenancy of licensed premises, holiday lets or where the landlord is a local council.
Other tenancy types
Other types of tenancy include:
excluded tenancies or licences
Excluded tenancies or licences
A lodger living in your home who is sharing your kitchen and bathroom, for example, might have this type of tenancy agreement. Less notice is needed if you want them to move out.
Tenancies that started between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 could be assured, providing tenants with more protection against eviction. Tenants have more security to stay in the property until they choose to leave, or their landlord gains possession, based on one of the grounds included in the Housing Act.
Tenancies that started before 15 January 1989 might be regulated, providing tenants with increased protection from eviction and the option to apply for a ‘fair rent’.
Tenancies and coronavirus
Taking possession - during the current coronavirus conditions, the government has strongly advised landlords not to start or continue possession proceedings without a very good reason. If a landlord has already given notice that they intend to take possession it will apply for an extended period of at least six months.
Rent - tenants are still liable to pay their rent during the pandemic. Landlords are asked to consider flexible arrangements including, where appropriate, delays in payment. The government has provided funding to help local authorities support tenants whose income has been lost or significantly reduced. Private landlords will soon have to follow new processes to agree affordable rent repayments if tenants fall into arrears before possession proceedings can begin.
Right to rent check - during the current coronavirus restrictions landlords or their agents don’t have to meet a tenant in person to complete the right to rent check. Instead, tenants can submit a scanned copy or a photo of original documents via email or a mobile app. Tenants can show original documents to the camera during a videocall so they can be checked against the digital copies. The date this type of check is made will be recorded as an ‘adjusted check’. When restrictions are lifted, a retrospective check will be needed within eight weeks.
Repairs and maintenance - landlords are still responsible repairs where they can be done safely. Emergency repairs will be needed in situations where tenants’ physical or mental health is at risk, for example, due to leaks, electrical faults, broken heating or faulty security systems.
We’ll be happy to give advice about tenancies and landlords’ responsibilities, so please get in touch.
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