The different types of tenancy agreements
Tenants | Tips for Tenants | 30/06/17
A tenancy agreement is an agreement between the landlord and the tenant which outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parties. This can a written or verbal agreement and must be agreed on by both sides. An agreement will outline which repairs each party is responsible for, your right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the property you let, and how each side can terminate the contract. An agreement can be for a fixed period of time or ‘periodic’, meaning it will be renewed on a weekly or monthly basis. You should be aware of the type of contract you are agreeing to and all the implications for you and the landlord before signing.
Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) are the most basic type tenancies; if you rent from a private landlord who does not live with you and you have direct control over who enters your home, it’s likely you have an AST. ASTs will always start with a fixed time period, normally 6 months or a year. This can be renewed upon its expiration or, if both parties agree, turned into a periodic let which will continue as long as the tenant and landlord are in agreement. The contract can be terminated if the tenant breaks the agreement or both parties agree to its termination; during a periodic tenancy, the landlord must serve Section 21 notice. New terms must be agreed and signed by both parties, and landlords must place your deposit in a Deposit Protection Scheme. The landlord is responsible for repairs and the tenant for general maintenance. Room only ASTs apply when landlords rent out single rooms in a shared house or bedsit where tenants share facilities. These are governed by the same rules as standards ASTs.
A Regulated Tenancy entitles the tenant to ‘fair rent’ – the maximum rent is assigned by the Valuation Office Agency and landlords cannot charge over this limit. These tenancies generally started before 15 January 1989 and have been renewed since. Landlords have to prove that they have grounds to evict a tenant, unlike an AST. The terms often vary depending on the original agreement. Non-Assured Tenancies are very specific, and could be used if: the rent is under £250 a year, it is not the tenant’s main residence or the property (but not the facilities) is shared by the landlord. These do not require a deposit protection scheme. The tenant has the right to stay in the property until the end of the fixed term, though the landlord does not need to give Section 21 or Section 8 Notice to evict.
Assured tenancies are generally granted by Housing Associations or Trusts but are quite rare. You should be made aware that it is an assured tenancy prior to the start of the tenancy. These agreements give tenants the right to live in the property for as long as they continue to pay rent and respect the terms of the agreement. A landlord must provide sufficient grounds and obtain a possession order to evict an assured tenant. Assured tenancies can be passed on or inherited, but in terms of responsibilities they are similar to ASTs.
Lodgings and subletting
Excluded tenancy agreements, or Lodger Agreements, apply when you share your living space with the landlord. This can include lodging, sharing accommodation with the landlord or a member of their family, living in a B&B, hostels run by a council or housing association, or a situation in which you do not pay rent. You have fewer tenants’ rights if you have a periodic tenancy than a fixed term tenancy; landlords do not have to serve written notice or go to court to evict you. These tenancies do not require landlords to protect your deposit, and any disputes will have to be sorted between the two parties.
An occupier with basic protection shares the building with the landlord but not the accommodation or any facilities. This encompasses student halls or residences. Landlords must follow the full eviction procedure and tenants have greater rights than other excluded tenancy agreements. Landlords must undertake major repairs and tenants cannot be charged unless they were responsible. As with other tenancies, landlords must provide gas safety certificates, ensure fire safety standards are met and all appliances and outlets are safe.
A subtenant does not rent from the landlord, but from a tenant. If someone is renting from a landlord, they can rent out a part of or the whole property, with the landlord’s consent; if you are thinking of subletting, ensure that the tenant has checked with the landlord. The tenant becomes your immediate landlord, and assumes the responsibilities of a landlord. Tenancy agreements often vary depending on the situation. If your tenant gets evicted, so will you.
Council tenancies apply to properties owned by the council or a social landlord who works with a given council, and tenants have to fulfill certain criteria to be accepted. Some councils offer Introductory Council Tenancies for the first 12 months of renting a council home. This gives you fewer rights and makes it easier for the council to evict you if they have good reason. This tests the suitability of tenants, and if the 12 months is completed (not necessarily in the same property) it will automatically become a Secure Tenancy. The council can also demote Secure Tenancies to Demoted Tenancies if they are concerned with a tenant’s behavior; these tenancies are similar to Introductory Tenancies.
Most council housing tenants will have an Secure or Assured Tenancy. Secure Tenancies are the default for council housing tenants. You will have a written agreement and the council cannot change the terms without your written permission. The rent can be increased. The council – your landlord – is in charge of major repairs and maintenance, though minor tasks and daily cleaning is up to the tenant. Secure tenants can apply for permission to take in lodgers or to sublet, and consent cannot be unreasonably withheld. Flexible tenants are not secure tenants, but have the same rights. The council can choose not to renew a flexible tenancy and must give six months’ notice and detail the reasons why.
Employment related tenancies
These relate to accommodation provided to workers as part of their job by their employer. Typical examples include live-in carers, housekeepers, members of the clergy and hotel workers. The provision of accommodation is tied to the job; if the tenant loses their job, they must leave the property. Farm workers often live in ‘tied accommodation’ and have agricultural occupancy agreements. Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety and maintenance of the property.
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