Assured shorthold tenancies
This section explains the rights you have if you have an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord. It covers the rights you have to live in your home without being disturbed and to get repairs done. It also explains how you can end your tenancy and when your landlord can evict you.
Checking your status
The vast majority of private rented tenants are assured shorthold tenants. You automatically have an assured shorthold tenancy if:
- you moved in on or after 28 February 1997 and
- you pay rent to a private landlord and
- you have control over your home so that your landlord and other people cannot come in whenever they want to and
- your landlord does not live in the same building as you.
You will also be an assured shorthold tenant if you moved in between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 and your landlord gave you a notice saying that you have an assured shorthold tenancy before your tenancy started.
Some types of tenancy cannot be assured shorthold tenancies. These include:
- business tenancies
- tenancies where no (or a very low) rent is paid
- tenancies that started on or after 1 April 1990 and where the current rent is more than £25,000 per year
- tenancies of agricultural land or holdings
- college accommodation
- holiday lets.
If you fall into any of these categories and you are not sure what type of tenancy you have, get advice.
An assured shorthold tenancy is a tenancy that gives you a legal right to live in your accommodation for a period of time. Your tenancy might be for a set period such as six months (this is known as a fixed term tenancy). Or it might roll on a week to week or month to month basis (this is known as a periodic tenancy).
Should my landlord be registered?
Yes. By the 23rd November 2016 every private landlord of an assured shorthold tenancy in Wales should be registered with the Rent Smart Wales scheme. In addition, landlords who self-manage those properties, or agents who have been appointed by the landlord, must have a licence.
You can check if your landlord and/or agent is registered or licensed by searching the public register. If they are not registered and/or licensed they might be committing a criminal offence and could face penalties. See our pages on landlord registration and licensing for more information.
Your right to information about your tenancy and the property
If your tenancy started after 28 February 1997 you have the right to ask your landlord to provide a statement of terms of your tenancy.
The information that must be provided is:
- the start date of the tenancy
- the amount of rent and when you have to pay it
- how and when the rent may be changed
- the length of any fixed term.
If you ask for this information your landlord has to provide it within 28 days.
In all cases you should also be provided with :
- a Gas Safety Certificate, dated within the last 12 months, if the property has any gas appliances
- a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) dated within the last ten years. An EPC will give you information about the property’s energy use and typical energy costs. Since 1st April 2018 a private landlord cannot grant a tenancy or renew an existing tenancy if the property has an EPC rating below band ‘E’.
Your right to live in your accommodation undisturbed
You have the right to live in your accommodation without being disturbed. You have control over your home so that your landlord and other people cannot freely enter whenever they want to. Your landlord cannot limit or otherwise interfere with your right to live in your home. If your landlord tries to do this s/he may be guilty of harassment, which is against the law.
If you don’t live in your accommodation as your ‘only or principal home’ you might lose your status as an assured shorthold tenant. However, it is possible to spend time living elsewhere but still keep your assured shorthold tenancy as long as you can show that you are planning to return (for example by leaving personal possessions there).
You must pay the rent that you agreed with your landlord. If you don’t pay your rent your landlord can take court action to evict you. If you pay rent weekly your landlord has to provide a rent book.
Getting repairs done
The law says your landlord has to keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair.
- the roof
- walls (but this doesn’t include internal decoration)
- windows and doors.
Your landlord must also keep the equipment for the supply of gas, electricity, heating, water and sanitation in good repair. Your landlord may have extra responsibilities to repair depending on what your tenancy agreement says.
You are responsible for looking after the property. This might include unblocking a sink or changing a fuse when necessary. You may also have other responsibilities depending on what your tenancy agreement says.
Your landlord must have a valid gas safety certificate for any gas appliances in the property. Any furniture provided should be fire resistant.
If your accommodation needs repairs, inform your landlord or agent. If the repairs are your landlord’s responsibility and are not done there may be ways you can force your landlord to carry out the work. However, as assured shorthold tenants can be evicted fairly easily, your landlord may prefer to evict you rather than carry out expensive repairs.
Get advice if you are in this situation.
Getting other people to live with you
It is sometimes possible to get other people to live with you as subtenants or lodgers as long as you continue to live in your accommodation as your ‘only or principal home’. However, you should get your landlord’s agreement first, even if your tenancy agreement says it’s allowed. If you don’t get your landlord’s agreement, s/he may try to evict you rather than allow the other person to live in the property.
If you rent out your home and move elsewhere, you will no longer have an assured shorthold tenancy. When your tenancy ends it is likely that anyone living in the property as a subtenant or lodger will no longer have any rights to live there either.
How your tenancy can be ended
Your tenancy cannot simply run out. It will continue until it is ended properly – either by you or by your landlord.
This can happen in one of three ways:
- you and your landlord agreeing to end the tenancy (known as surrender)
- you serving a valid notice
- your landlord taking action to evict you (see below).
It is possible for a tenancy to be surrendered at any time. Get your landlord’s agreement in writing if possible to avoid problems later.
If you have a periodic tenancy (ie. the original fixed term has ended and your tenancy runs from week to week or month to month), you have to give one month’s notice in writing, or longer if you pay your rent less often. The notice should end on the first or last day of the period of a tenancy. Once the notice ends your tenancy ends and you no longer have any right to live in your home.
If you have a fixed term tenancy (eg for one year) you will only be able to give notice during the fixed term if your tenancy agreement says it is allowed. The length of notice you have to give depends on what your tenancy agreement says.
It is possible to leave on the day your tenancy ends without giving any notice, but this is not usually advisable. It is best to give your landlord notice if you can, especially if you have paid a deposit and need it back.
Protection from eviction
One of the most important things assured shorthold tenants should remember is that you can be evicted fairly easily. The most common reason for eviction is rent arrears, but your landlord also may try to evict you if you try to challenge rent increases or get repairs done. S/he does not need to prove a reason unless your tenancy is within a fixed term, but s/he has to follow the correct procedure.
Your landlord has to give you written notice if s/he wants you to leave. If your landlord is claiming you have done something wrong (such as not paying the rent) you may only get two weeks’ notice.
However, if your landlord doesn’t have a reason to evict you, the notice must be at least two calendar months or the same period for which rent is paid, whichever is longer. If your tenancy is periodic, the notice should end on the last day of a rental period (the day before your rent is due). A landlord cannot give you this form of notice if he or she is not registered with Rent Smart Wales.
If you don’t leave by the end of the notice period, your landlord can apply for a court order.
You cannot be evicted before your landlord has gone to court and the court has agreed to your landlord regaining possession of the property. The court’s permission is on a written notice known as a possession order. The court has no choice but to make an order to evict assured shorthold tenants if the correct procedure has been followed. You may be able to ask the court to delay the order but this can only be done for up to six weeks, and only if you face exceptional hardship.
You will be given the chance to provide information to the court to help the judge decide whether or not you should be evicted. You can send information to the court and/or go to a hearing.
If you don’t leave by the time a court order takes effect, your landlord can ask the bailiffs to physically remove you from the property.
Take a look at our page on Eviction of assured shorthold tenants for more detailed advice.
If your landlord tries to evict you without getting a court order it may be a criminal offence. Your local council should help if you have been illegally evicted or harassed by your landlord. You may also be able to get a court order to force your landlord to allow you back into the property.
Get urgent advice if you are in this situation. Call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005 or, if you prefer, visit advice near you to find a local Shelter Cymru advice surgery where you can talk to someone in person.