Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements

(The Housing Act 1988 as amended by the Housing Act 1996)


The Housing Act received royal assent on 15th November 1988 after considerable debate, keeping Parliament occupied for a total of over 250 hours. The issues were at times bitterly contested by the opposition parties as the provisions laid down in the Act were far-reaching. The Rent Acts had for many years kept a firm stranglehold on rent levels and the general freedom of landlords. Part I of the new Act heralded a fresh and market-oriented approach to the legal relationship between landlord and tenant and, through the Assured Shorthold Tenancy, provided a means whereby the landlord could be certain of his right to repossess his property. Familiarity with the essential requirements and provisions of the Act is important to the property professional who is frequently called upon to draft letting agreements or amend standard forms.

Definition of an assured shorthold tenancy:

An assured shorthold tenancy is a type of assured tenancy which offers the landlord a guaranteed right to repossess his property at the end of the term. In fact, it does not necessarily have to be ‘short’; assured shorthold tenancies set up after 28 February 1997 can be for any length of time the landlord wishes to offer. The assured shorthold has the following important features:

  • It is now the automatic or default form of tenancy for most residential tenancies
  • The landlord has a right to get his property back at the end of the tenancy (although a court can still not award possession during the first six months if a tenant refuses to leave).

N.B. Prior to 28th February 1997, the first tenancy had to be for a fixed period of at least six months, with no power for the landlord to terminate the tenancy before this time, and the landlord was required to serve a Notice of Assured Shorthold tenancy on the tenant in the proper form.

The landlord and tenant can freely agree the rent but the tenant does have the power in certain circumstances to refer the rent to the appropriate tribunal (First-tier tribunal – Property Chamber in England and Rent Assessment Committee in Wales).

Can I use an assured shorthold tenancy?:

The Housing Act laid down some important requirements for assured and assured shorthold tenancies. Some of the key requirements are:

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