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Assured shorthold tenancy definition

An assured shorthold tenancy is a type of assured tenancy. It can be fixed term or periodic.

This content applies to England

Assured shorthold and assured tenancies

An assured shorthold tenancy is a type of assured tenancy. All the requirements of an assured tenancy apply, including that it must be a tenancy:

  • of a property let as a separate dwelling

  • granted to a private person or joint tenants

  • where at least one of the joint tenants occupies the property as their only or principal home

An assured tenancy can only be assured shorthold if it was created on or after 15 January 1989.

From 27 February 1997 a tenancy is automatically an assured shorthold tenancy unless an assured tenancy is specifically created.

Other requirements for assured shorthold tenancies apply depending on whether the tenancy was created between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997, or after 27 February 1997.

The main difference between an assured shorthold tenancy and an assured tenancy is that the landlord can use section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to regain possession without giving a reason.

Fixed term assured shorthold tenancies

A fixed-term tenancy runs for a specific period of time, normally six or 12 months, and has a clearly identifiable start and an end date.[1] If a tenancy does not have a fixed term, it will be a periodic tenancy. A fixed term of at least six months was a requirement for the creation of an assured shorthold tenancy created before 27 February 1997.

Fixed-term of more than three years

It is a requirement that a tenancy with a fixed-term of more than three years must be made by deed. The execution of a deed requires the contract to say it is a deed and the signatures of the landlord and tenant must be witnessed. This does not apply to assured shorthold tenancies of this duration if granted by a private registered provider of social housing on or after 1 April 2012 – except when they are either long leases (granted for 21 years or more) or shared ownership properties.[2]

Where a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years is not executed by deed, the tenancy takes effect as a fixed-term equitable lease.[3]

Periodic assured shorthold tenancies

A periodic tenancy does not have an end date and can continue indefinitely. It runs from period to period, for example, month to month or week to week.

Tenancies that are periodic from the beginning

An assured shorthold tenancy can be a contractual periodic tenancy from the outset, without a fixed term. This is the case if either:

  • the tenant has a written contract that says it is periodic

  • there was never a written agreement and no fixed term was agreed

Assured shorthold tenancies granted before 28 February 1997 could not be periodic from the outset.[4]

Tenancies that become periodic after a fixed term

When a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy ends other than by a court order or a surrender, a statutory periodic tenancy will arise automatically.[5]

A statutory periodic tenancy is a new tenancy, separate from the original fixed term.[6] The period of the tenancy is the same as that for which rent was last payable under the fixed term.

The same terms apply as the original agreement apart from any term about ending the tenancy, such as a longer notice to quit.[7] Any rent review clause will also have no effect in a statutory periodic tenancy.[8]

A statutory periodic tenancy does not arise if the original fixed term agreement provides that it will continue as a contractual periodic tenancy. For example, a term stating that "the landlord agrees to let the premises known as…..for a term of (6 or 12) months and thereafter continuing on a monthly basis." The Court of Appeal has held that this type of clause would create a single contractual tenancy which is initially for a fixed term and then continues as a periodic tenancy.[9]

Any rent review clause or terms on ending the tenancy will still apply if the tenancy continues as a contractual periodic tenancy.

Protected shorthold tenancies

When a protected shorthold tenant is granted a new tenancy after 15 January 1989, the new tenancy is automatically an assured shorthold tenancy. No notice stating that the tenancy is to be an assured shorthold tenancy is required. A landlord can decide to create an assured tenancy instead by serving notice on the tenant, before the tenancy is entered into, that it is not to be an assured shorthold.[10]

Where a protected shorthold expires and no new tenancy is granted, the tenancy will continue, but as a statutory tenancy under the Rent Act 1977 (although subject to the protected shorthold ground for possession).[11]

Last updated: 13 December 2021


  • [1]

    Nicolls v Kinsey [1994] 16 Estates Gazette 145, on what constitutes a fixed term: a tenancy granted 'for one year and thereafter from year to year' was not a fixed term.

  • [2]

    s.52 Law of Property Act 1925, as amended by s.156 Localism Act 2011.

  • [3]

    Walsh v Lonsdale (1882) 21 Ch. D. 9; R v Tower Hamlets LBC ex p. Von Goetz (1999) 31 H.L.R. 669, CA.

  • [4]

    s.20 Housing Act 1988.

  • [5]

    s.5(2) Housing Act 1988.

  • [6]

    Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues [2013] EWCA Civ 669.

  • [7]

    s5(3)(e) Housing Act 1988.

  • [8]

    London Districts Properties Management Ltd and others v Goolamy [2009] EWHC 1367 (Admin).

  • [9]

    Leeds City Council v Broadley (Rev 1) [2016] EWCA Civ 1213.

  • [10]

    s.34(3) Housing Act 1988.

  • [11]

    Ridehalgh v Horsefield [1992] Estates GazetteCS 45.