Assured shorthold tenancies with private landlords

Your rights if you have an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord: how you can end your tenancy, when your landlord can evict you, the landlord's responsibilities towards you including getting repairs done and not disturbing you.

Definition of an assured shorthold tenancy

Most people who rent from a private landlord are assured shorthold tenants. You automatically have an assured shorthold tenancy if all of the following apply:

  • you moved in on or after 28 February 1997
  • you pay rent to a private landlord
  • you have control over your home so that your landlord and other people cannot come in whenever they want to
  • your landlord does not live in the same building as you

You will also be an assured shorthold tenant if you moved in between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 and your landlord gave you a notice saying that you have an assured shorthold tenancy before your tenancy started.

Some types of tenancy can't be assured shorthold tenancies. These include:

  • business tenancies
  • tenancies where no (or a very low) rent is paid
  • tenancies that started on or after 1 April 1990 and where the current rent is more than £100,000 per year
  • tenancies of agricultural land or holdings
  • college accommodation
  • holiday lets.

Get advice if you fall into any of these categories and you are not sure what type of tenancy you have. Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

Use Shelter's tenancy checker to find out what type of tenancy you have.

The rights you have as an assured shorthold tenant

An assured shorthold tenancy is a tenancy that gives you a legal right to live in your accommodation for a period of time. You could have a fixed-term tenancy, where your tenancy might be for a set period such as six months, or you could have a periodic tenancy, which might roll on a month-to-month or week-to-week basis.

The law gives you rights to:

  • get information about your tenancy
  • control your home so that you can stop other people from freely entering
  • get certain types of repairs done
  • live in your accommodation until your landlord gets a court order to evict you.

You may also have other rights, to have repairs done or to challenge rent increases. However, assured shorthold tenants can be evicted fairly easily, so if you try to enforce these rights you could risk losing your home. Get advice before you decide what to do. Use Shelter's directory to find a local adviser.

Use Shelter's checklist of things to consider when viewing properties you’re thinking of renting.

Your right to information about your assured shorthold tenancy

If your tenancy started after 28 February 1997, you have the right to ask your landlord to provide a statement of terms of your tenancy. The information that must be provided is:

  • the start date of the tenancy
  • the amount of rent and when you have to pay it
  • how and when the rent may be changed
  • the length of any fixed-term.

If you ask for this information your landlord has to provide it within 28 days.

Your right to live in your accommodation undisturbed

You have the right to live in your accommodation without being disturbed. You have control over your home so that your landlord and other people cannot freely enter whenever they want to. Your landlord cannot limit or otherwise interfere with your right to live in your home. If your landlord tries to do this s/he may be guilty of harassment, which is against the law.

If you don't live in your accommodation as your 'only or principal home' you might lose your status as an assured shorthold tenant. However, it is possible to spend time living elsewhere but still keep your assured shorthold tenancy as long as you can show that you are planning to return, for example by leaving personal possessions there.

Paying rent

You must pay the rent that you agreed with your landlord. If you don't pay your rent your landlord can take court action to evict you. If you pay rent weekly your landlord has to provide a rent book.

Your landlord may also be able to increase your rent.

Getting repairs done

The law says your landlord has to keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair. This includes:

  • the roof
  • guttering
  • walls (but this doesn't include internal decoration)
  • windows and doors.

Your landlord must also keep the equipment for the supply of gas, electricity, heating, water and sanitation in good repair. Your landlord may have extra responsibilities for repairs, depending on what your tenancy agreement says.

You are responsible for looking after the property. This might include unblocking a sink or changing a fuse when necessary. You may also have other responsibilities depending on what your tenancy agreement says.

Your landlord must have a valid gas safety certificate for any gas appliances in the property. Any furniture provided should be fire resistant.

If your accommodation needs repairs, inform your landlord or agent. If the repairs are your landlord's responsibility and are not done there may be ways you can force your landlord to carry out the work. However, as assured shorthold tenants can be evicted fairly easily, your landlord may to prefer to evict you rather than carry out expensive repairs. Get advice if you are in this situation.

Having other people live with you

It is sometimes possible for other people to live with you as subtenants or lodgers as long as you continue to live in your accommodation as your 'only or principal home'. However, you should get your landlord's agreement first, even if your tenancy agreement says it's allowed. If you don't get your landlord's agreement, s/he may try to evict you rather than allow the other person to live in the property.

If you rent out your home and move elsewhere, you will no longer have an assured shorthold tenancy. When your tenancy ends it is likely that anyone living in the property as a subtenant or lodger will no longer have any rights to live there either.

Read the government's guide How to rent for more information on finding and renting a home.

How an assured shorthold tenancy can be ended

Your tenancy cannot simply run out. It will continue until it is ended properly, either by you or by your landlord. This can happen in one of three ways:

  • you and your landlord agreeing to end the tenancy (known as surrender)
  • you serving a valid notice
  • your landlord taking action to evict you (see below).

Surrender

It is possible for a tenancy to be surrendered at any time. Get your landlord's agreement in writing if possible to avoid problems later.

Notice

If you have a fixed-term tenancy (for example, for one year) you will only be able to give notice during the fixed-term if your tenancy agreement says it is allowed. The length of notice you have to give depends on what your tenancy agreement says.

If your fixed term has ended, your tenancy will become a periodic tenancy (and will run from month to month or week to week). To end it, you have to give one month's notice in writing for a monthly tenancy, 28 days notice for a weekly tenancy, or longer if you pay your rent less often. The notice should end on the first or last day of the period of a tenancy. Once the notice ends, your tenancy ends and you no longer have any right to live in your home.

It's possible to leave on the day your fixed term tenancy ends without giving any notice, but this is not usually advisable. It is best to give your landlord notice if you can, especially if you have paid a deposit and need it back.

Sometimes an assured shorthold tenancy can be periodic from the start, with no specified fixed period. The notice required to end it will be whatever is stated in the tenancy agreement.  If the agreement doesn't say anything about notice periods, to end the tenancy you have to give one month's notice in writing for a monthly tenancy, 28 days notice for a weekly tenancy, or longer if you pay your rent less often.

How assured shorthold tenants are protected from eviction

One of the most important things assured shorthold tenants should remember is that you can be evicted fairly easily. The most common reason for eviction is rent arrears, but your landlord also may try to evict you if you try to challenge rent increases or get repairs done. They don't need to prove a reason unless your tenancy is within a fixed-term, but they have to follow the correct procedure.

Notice requirements

Your landlord has to give you written notice if s/he wants you to leave. If your landlord is claiming you have done something wrong (such as not paying the rent), you may only get two weeks' notice.

However, if your landlord doesn't have a reason to evict you, the notice must be at least two calendar months or the same period for which rent is paid, whichever is longer. If your tenancy is periodic, the notice should end on the last day of a tenancy period (the day before your rent is due).

If you don't leave by the end of the notice period, your landlord can apply for a court order.

Court order

You cannot be evicted before your landlord has gone to court and the court has agreed to your landlord regaining possession of the property. The court's permission is on a written notice known as a possession order. The court has no choice but to make an order to evict assured shorthold tenants if the correct procedure has been followed. You may be able to ask the court to delay the order but this can only be done for up to six weeks, and only if you face exceptional hardship.

You will be given the chance to provide information to the court to help the judge decide whether or not you should be evicted. You can send information to the court and/or go to a hearing.

If you don't leave by the time a court order takes effect, your landlord can ask the bailiffs to physically remove you from the property.

Periodic tenants

If your tenancy is periodic or if the fixed-term has come to an end, your landlord can evict you fairly easily. There is no need for your landlord to give a reason to the court but they must be able to show that you have an assured shorthold tenancy and that the correct notice has been served.

Fixed-term tenants

During a fixed-term your landlord must have a reason to evict you. The reason might be because:

  • you have rent arrears
  • you are constantly or regularly late with the rent
  • you have broken the terms of your tenancy such as by subletting when you are not allowed to
  • you have allowed the condition of the property to get worse
  • you have caused nuisance or annoyance
  • your landlord's mortgage lender is repossessing the property
  • the property is being redeveloped.

The court will not evict you unless it is satisfied that the reason exists. In some cases the court must also consider whether it is reasonable for you to be evicted.

Your landlord can give you two months' notice without having a reason, but the notice should not run out before the end of the fixed term. Speak to an adviser if this happens. Use our directory to find help in your local area.

When an eviction may be illegal

It may be a criminal offence if your landlord tries to evict you without getting a court order. Ask your local council for help if you have been illegally evicted or harassed by your landlord. You may also be able to get a court order to force your landlord to allow you back into the property. Get advice if you are in this situation.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.

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