What are assured and short hold tenancies?

These are the names of the commonest forms of arrangement for the renting of houses and flats by private tenants. In their current form, they were introduced by the Housing Act 1988 but important changes were made by the Housing Act 1996 with effect from 28 February 1997.

In the legislation, the term “assured tenancy” covers both assured tenancies (sometimes called “full” or “ordinary” assured tenancies) and assured shorthold tenancies. For clarity, this leaflet will refer to assured tenancies and shorthold tenancies to highlight the important differences between the two.

An assured or shorthold tenancy is the usual form of letting if:

  • you are a private tenant and your landlord is a private landlord;

  • the tenancy began on or after 15 January 1989;

  •  the house or flat is let as separate accommodation and is your main home.

A tenancy will not be an assured or shorthold tenancy if:

  •  the tenancy began before 15 January 1989;

  •  it is a business or holiday let;

  •  no rent or a very low or very high rent is charged;

  •  the landlord is a “resident landlord”.

Assured and shorthold tenancies allow landlords to charge a full market rent, unlike previous forms of tenancy. Shorthold tenancies also allow landlords to let their property for a short period only and to get it back if they wish after 6 months.

Changes in the 1996 Act mean that:

  • a new tenancy will automatically be a shorthold tenancy unless the landlord gives written notice that it will not be a shorthold tenancy;

  • the landlord has a right to possession if you owe at least 2 months’ or  8 weeks’ rent (rather than 3 months’ or 13 weeks’ rent);

  •  it will be easier for the landlord to evict you if you cause a nuisance or annoyance to other local people;

  • if the landlord agrees a new or replacement shorthold tenancy with you, you have a right to a statement of the main details of the tenancy agreement if he or she does not provide a written agreement.

Under changes in the 1996 Act, if you are a new shorthold tenant, you will:

  • only be able to refer your rent to a rent assessment committee during the first 6 months of the tenancy;

  •  continue to have the right not to be evicted without a court order and to have the same rights as existing tenants to stay in the property.