Private Housing FAQs

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What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
An assured shorthold tenancy is for a fixed period of time. It does not give a tenant security because at the end of the period of the tenancy the landlord can decide not to renew it. Also such tenancies will not usually be subject to rent controls.
 
Can a landlord start possession proceedings before the fixed period of an assured shorthold tenancy has come to an end?
The landlord can bring a tenancy to an end even if the full period of the tenancy has not come to an end.
 
However, the landlord must be able to show good reason for bringing the tenancy to an end, such reasons (grounds) are given in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, but only grounds 2, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 or 17 apply. See this page for further details of the grounds for possession of a property.
 
Once the period of an assured shorthold tenancy has come to an end does the tenant have to leave?
When the period of an assured shorthold tenancy comes to an end and the tenancy is not renewed, but the tenant stays in the property the tenancy will continue as a Periodic Tenancy until the landlord decides to end it.
 
The landlord must end it by serving at least 2 months notice. In this case the 2 months must end on the last day of a period of the tenancy, (therefore if rent is paid quarterly, 3 months notice would be required).
 
At the end of the 2 months the tenant can leave if he or she wishes or wait until the landlord has obtained a possession order from the court.
 
How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy before he or she can apply for a possession order?
If the period of the tenancy has come to an end the landlord must give at least 2 months notice. (Where the tenancy has continued as a periodic tenancy, then the notice must reflect the period of that tenancy so that if rent is usually paid every 3 months the landlord must give 3 months notice).
 
If the tenancy has not come to an end and the landlord seeks possession on ground 2 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, he must give 2 months notice.
 
If under grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 or 17 he must give 2 weeks notice.
 
If the landlord does not pay his or her mortgage and the lender wants to repossess the property, does the tenant have any rights?
If the tenancy agreement was entered into after the date of the mortgage the tenant will have no right to stay in the property if the lender applies for a repossession order from the court. This may be different if the lender has done something to recognise the tenancy.
 
If the tenancy agreement was entered into before the date of the mortgage the tenant may have what is called an "overriding interest" as against the lender.
 
Can a landlord or tenant take action against a trespasser?
Yes, but usually this will involve applying for a possession order from the court. These proceedings are known as a "claim against trespassers" under the Civil Procedure Rules Part 55. This is similar to the standard possession procedure. It is possible to apply for a quick temporary possession order against a trespasser, known as an "Interim Possession Order" before the final order is made.
 
What happens if a landlord evicts a tenant without a court possession order?
If a landlord evicts a tenant without a court order this could amount to unlawful eviction for which a tenant would be entitled to sue the landlord for compensation. This could be very costly for the landlord as the measure of damages is based on the difference between the value of the property with a tenant in occupation and the value of the property without a tenant in occupation.
 
If a property is in need of repair is the tenant or the landlord responsible for carrying out repairs?
Much will depend on what is written in the tenancy agreement, but broadly speaking the tenant will be responsible for repairs to contents and the interior of the property. The law says the landlord is responsible for the structure and exterior of the property, (despite what is in the tenancy agreement) as well as "installations", such as gas, electricity, water, heating and sanitation.
 

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