Private tenants with an assured tenancy have long-term tenancy rights. Most assured tenants moved into a private rented home between 1989 and 1997.
Are you an assured tenant?
You are likely to be an assured tenant if all these apply:
- 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 moved in between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 and your landlord did not give you a notice saying that you have an assured shorthold tenancy
You can also be an assured tenant if you moved in after 27 February 1997 but this is quite rare. This can only happen if your landlord gave you a written notice saying that you have an assured tenancy before your tenancy started, or if you previously had an assured tenancy in the same accommodation with the same landlord.
Tenancies that can't be assured
Some types of tenancy cannot be assured tenancies, for example:
- 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
Use Shelter's tenancy checker to check what type of tenancy you have.
Rights in an assured tenancy
An assured tenancy is a tenancy that gives you a legal right to live in your accommodation for a period of time.
Your tenancy might be for a set period such as six months. This is known as a fixed-term tenancy. Or it might roll on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis. This is called a periodic tenancy.
The law gives you rights to:
- control your home so that you can stop other people from freely entering
- challenge rent increases
- get certain types of repairs done
- pass your tenancy to someone else in certain circumstances
- live in your accommodation until your landlord gets a court order to evict you
Your right to live in your accommodation
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 is not allowed to restrict or interfere with your right to live in your home. If your landlord tries to do this, they may be guilty of harassment which is against the law.
You might lose your status as an assured tenant if you don't live in your accommodation as your only or main home. However, it is possible to spend time living elsewhere but still keep your assured tenancy. To do this you must be able to show that you are planning to return, for example by leaving personal possessions there.
Your right to challenge rent increases
You must pay the rent that you agreed with your landlord. If you do not 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.
If you are a fixed-term tenant your landlord cannot increase the rent unless you agree to it.
If you are a periodic tenant your landlord can increase the rent if:
- you agree to the increase
- there is a procedure for increasing rent written in your tenancy agreement
- your landlord gives you written notice of the proposed rent increase
- your landlord gives you written notice to change the terms of your tenancy
Please see the section on private tenancy rent increases for more information.
If your landlord tries to increase the rent when it is not possible to do so and you don't agree to it, you cannot be evicted as long as you continue to pay the rent you did agree to. But if you start paying the increased rent the law assumes that you have agreed to the increase and you will have to continue paying it.
You may be able to challenge a rent increase if you don't agree to it. It is sometimes possible to ask a tribunal for rent disputes to decide the amount of rent you should be charged.
Your right to get repairs done
The law says your landlord has to keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair. This includes:
- the roof
- 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 if you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
You are responsible for looking after the property and for minor repairs. This might include unblocking a sink or changing a fuse. 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.
Tell your landlord or letting agent if your accommodation needs repairs. If the repairs are your landlord's responsibility and they aren't done, there may be steps you can take to get your landlord to carry out the work.
Your rights to pass your tenancy on to someone else
You lose the legal right to live in your home if you pass your tenancy to someone else.
You can only pass on your assured tenancy to someone else in specific circumstances. These are if:
- you die
- your tenancy agreement says you can pass on your tenancy
- your landlord agrees to it
Your landlord may be able to end your tenancy if you attempt to pass your tenancy to someone else under any other circumstances.
If an assured tenant dies it may be possible for the tenancy to be passed on to a spouse, civil partner or partner. This is known as succession and is only possible if the tenancy has not previously been passed on this way. It can only take place if the spouse, civil partner or partner was living in the property at the time of the tenant's death.
Getting other people to live with you
But if you move out you no longer have an assured tenancy. If your tenancy ends, it is likely that anyone living in the property as a subtenant or lodger won't have any rights to live there.
Ending an assured tenancy
Your tenancy continues until it is ended by you or your landlord. This can happen by:
- 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)
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.
If you have a periodic tenancy, you have to give one months' notice in writing (or longer if you pay your rent less often). The notice should end on the day that your rent is due. Once the notice ends your tenancy ends and you no longer have any right to live in your home.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy you can only 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.
It is also possible to leave on the day your tenancy ends without giving any notice. However, you should tell landlord that you plan to do this, as this may help to avoid arguments about the return of your deposit.
Protection from eviction
Most assured tenants can only be evicted in certain circumstances. For more information, see the section on the eviction of assured tenants.
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. Before the court makes a possession order your landlord must have a reason (or 'ground') to evict you. Your landlord must have followed the correct legal procedure.
You are 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.
See the section on court procedures for more.
Before going to court your landlord has to give you a written notice. The notice must:
- be in a special form
- say why your landlord wants to evict you
- give the earliest date that court action can start.
How much notice your landlord has to give depends on the reason(s) why you are being evicted. It can vary from 14 days to two months.
Your landlord can start court action to evict you at any time until exactly 12 months after the date of the notice. After that your landlord has to serve a new notice in order to be able to get a court order.
Reasons for eviction
The reasons for eviction that landlords can use are set out by law. They are known as 'grounds for possession'. They are split into two groups, mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds.
If your landlord proves a mandatory ground for possession the court has no choice but to make a possession order. The court has to be satisfied, however, that the ground exists and you may be able to prove otherwise. Examples of mandatory grounds include:
- you are more than eight weeks behind with the rent
- your landlord's mortgage lender is repossessing the property and you were informed in advance that your land lord used to live in the property
- the property is being redeveloped
It may be possible to delay the possession order for up to six weeks if it is causing you exceptional hardship.
If your landlord is using a discretionary ground for possession the court can only make a possession order if it is reasonable to do so. Examples of discretionary grounds include:
- you have some rent arrears
- persistent delays in paying your rent
- you have broken your tenancy agreement
- you have caused nuisance or used the property for illegal activities
- you have allowed the condition of the property to deteriorate
The court takes your circumstances (such as your health and income) into account when it decides whether it is reasonable for a possession order to be made.
After a court order takes effect your landlord can ask the bailiffs to evict you.
It may be a criminal offence if your landlord tries to evict you without getting a court order.
Contact your local council. They may be able to help if you have been illegally evicted or harassed by your landlord. You may also be able to obtain a court order requiring the landlord to allow you back into the property.
Please see the section on illegal eviction for more information.
Use our directory to find a local advice centre if you think you are being illegally evicted from your home.