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Protected shorthold tenancies

This content applies to England

The protected shorthold tenancy, conditions and notices for protected shorthold tenancies, rent levels, and how a tenancy is ended.

Definition of a protected shorthold tenancy

The information here applies to protected shorthold tenancies that began before 15 January 1989. No new protected shorthold tenancies could be created on or after 15 January 1989.

A protected shorthold tenancy is a regulated tenancy to which further conditions have been attached. A protected tenancy is the tenancy of a dwelling-house, let as a separate dwelling, and to which none of the specified exceptions apply.

Additional conditions for a protected shorthold

There are additional conditions which must be met for a protected shorthold tenancy:

  • it must be a fixed-term tenancy of not less than one year and no more than five years
  • there must be no provision for the landlord to bring the tenancy to an end before the expiry date, other than by forfeiture for non-payment of rent or another breach of the tenancy conditions
  • before granting the tenancy, the landlord must have given the tenant a notice in the correct form, stating that the tenancy is to be a protected shorthold tenancy
  • for protected shorthold tenancies within Greater London and granted between 28 November 1980 and 3 May 1987, a registered fair rent had to be in force. This was also the case for tenancies outside Greater London granted between 28 November 1980 and 30 November 1981. Any tenancy granted after these dates did not have to have a fair rent
  • a protected shorthold tenancy could not be granted if the tenant was an existing protected or statutory tenant of the same dwelling house[1]

Notice of protected shorthold tenancy

To create a protected shorthold tenancy, the landlord must have provided the tenant with a notice, in the prescribed form, prior to the grant of the tenancy. During possession proceedings, however, a court may dispense with the need for the prior notice, if it considers it just and equitable to do so.[2]

Rent levels

A protected shorthold tenant has the right to apply for a fair rent to be registered on the property.

Tenant gives notice to end the tenancy

A protected shorthold tenant is able to terminate the tenancy at any time, even during the fixed term, by giving the landlord written notice.[3]

The notice must be one month if the term is two years or less, or three months if the term is over two years. The tenant's right to give notice cannot be overwritten by any term of the tenancy.

Notice to quit and court proceedings by landlord

To bring a protected shorthold tenancy to an end the landlord must give the tenant at least three months' written notice during the last three months of the fixed term, or if the fixed term has already expired, during the same three months of any subsequent year. The notice must state that the landlord intends to commence court proceedings under Case 19 in Schedule 15 of the Rent Act 1977.[4] The landlord must then commence court proceedings during the three months following the expiry of the notice.

If these conditions are complied with the landlord has an automatic ground for possession.

Although no new protected shorthold tenancies can be created since 15 January 1989, there are such tenancies in existence, which will continue indefinitely unless the landlord serves notice during the three-month 'window' each year, or the tenancy ceases to be a protected shorthold tenancy (see below).

Tenancy ceasing to be protected shorthold

If a protected shorthold tenant enters into a new tenancy with their landlord on or after 15 January 1989, it will automatically change the protected shorthold into an assured shorthold tenancy unless the landlord serves a notice on the tenant that it will not be a shorthold tenancy.[5]

A change in the terms of the tenancy such as an increase in the rent will not usually be sufficient to create a new tenancy.

The landlord and the tenant may agree to vary the tenancy. Prior to 15 January 1989 an agreement could have been reached that the letting arrangement should become a protected tenancy or after that date an assured tenancy.

[1] s.52 Housing Act 1980, repealed by s.140 and Sch 18 Housing Act 1988 with effect from 1 December 2008, with savings in s.34 Housing Act 1988.

[2] s.55(2) Housing Act 1980.

[3] s.53(1) Housing Act 1980.

[4] s.55(1) Housing Act 1980.

[5] s.34(3) Housing Act 1988.

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