Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know what type of tenancy I have?
A tenancy will be determined by the type of accommodation you have, and the agreement you have made with your landlord. There are several different types of tenancy, and the type that you create will depend on whether the landlord lives at the property with you or not.
There are two basic types of letting depending on whether or not you share facilities with a your landlord:
If the tenant and landlord share facilities (such as the kitchen or bathroom) both immediately before and throughout the tenancy and this property is the landlords principle home, the landlord does not have to get a court order to get possession of the property. However, tenants must be given ‘reasonable’ notice, which will depend on things such as how often the rent is paid and how long the tenant has been at the property. This is known as an ‘excluded tenancy’ or licence. If tenants are given a contract for a fixed term, they are known as contractual tenancy and will have more security during the fixed term.
If the tenant lives in part of the property in which the landlord lives, but they do not share any facilities (except perhaps the hall or stairs), they have more protection from eviction. In this case, landlords will have to follow the correct procedure relating to giving notice and getting a court order. (See section ‘Ending the tenancy’.) It is a criminal offence to evict someone without giving them notice (see section ‘Harassment and illegal eviction’).
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Assured Shorthold Tenancy
This is the most common type of tenancy, and since 28 February 1997 all new tenancies will be assured shorthold unless otherwise agreed in writing. A fixed term is usually given of six months or a year. The fixed term may be less than six months if you and the tenant agree, or it can be a periodic tenancy, which runs indefinitely from one rent period to the next. However, the tenant has a right to stay in the property for at least six months unless there are reasons to evict them (see section ‘Ending a tenancy’). Once the fixed term ends, the landlord has a guaranteed right to possession as long as the tenant has been given the correct two months’ notice. If tenants refuse to leave, a court order must be obtained to evict them.
Before the Housing Act 1996 came into force, landlords who wanted to create an assured shorthold tenancy had to do so by meeting the notice requirements of Section 20 of the 1988 Housing Act.
Assured shorthold tenants have the right to refer the rent to the rent assessment committee within the first six months of the tenancy if they think that the rent is considerably higher than the market level. Rent assessment committees are made up of two or three people who are independent of local and central government and are appointed by government ministers.
No one can appeal against a decision except on a point of law. There is no charge for a committee decision. (See section 18 ‘Useful contacts’.)
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Since 28 February 1997, assured tenancies can only be created if the landlord agrees in writing. Assured tenancies give tenants more security and they can be granted for a fixed term or can run indefinitely from one rent period to the next (in this case they are known as contractual periodic tenancies).
Assured tenancies give tenants more security and there is no automatic provision for getting possession. They can also apply to the rent assessment committee if they want to challenge a rent increase.
Tenancies that are protected by the Rent Acts
Tenants that have lived in the property since before 15 January 1989 are likely to be protected by the Rent Acts. They have a high degree of security and the rent officer may set the rent. These tenancies can no longer be created but if you have any questions about this type of tenancy, you should contact the Housing Advice Team or a solicitor.
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Housing Advice Unit
Private sector Housing Unit
London Borough of Hounslow
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