An assured 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).
The law gives you rights to:
- control your home so that you can stop other people from freely entering
- challenge rent increases
- get certain types of repairs done
- pass your tenancy to someone else in certain circumstances
- live in your accommodation until your landlord gets a court order to evict you.
Each of these rights is explained below:
Your right to live in your accommodation
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 it may be 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 tenant. However, it is possible to spend time living elsewhere but still keep your assured tenancy. To do this you must be able to show that you are planning to return (for example by leaving personal possessions there).
Your right to challenge rent increases
You pay the rent that you agreed with your landlord. If you do not 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.
If you are a fixed term tenant your landlord cannot increase the rent unless you agree to it.
If you are a periodic tenant your landlord can increase the rent if:
- you agree to the increase
- there is a procedure for increasing rent written in your tenancy agreement
- your landlord gives you written notice of the proposed rent increase
- your landlord gives you written notice to change the terms of your tenancy
If your landlord tries to increase the rent when it is not possible to do so and you don’t agree to it, you cannot be evicted as long as you continue to pay the rent you did agree to. But if you start paying the increased rent the law assumes that you have agreed to the increase and you will have to continue paying it.
If your landlord gives you a notice to increase the rent and you don’t agree to the rent increase you may be able to challenge it. It is sometimes possible to get the rent assessment committee to decide the amount of rent you should be charged.
Your right to get 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 tell your landlord or agent. If the repairs are your landlord’s responsibility and they aren’t done, there may be ways you can force your landlord to carry out the work.
Your rights to pass your tenancy on to someone else
If you pass your tenancy to someone else you will no longer have a legal right to live in your home. You can only pass on your assured tenancy to someone else in specific circumstances.
- if you die (see below)
- if your tenancy agreement says you can pass on your tenancy
- if your landlord agrees to it.
If you attempt to pass your tenancy to someone else under any other circumstances your landlord may be able to end your tenancy.
If an assured tenant dies it may be possible for the tenancy to be passed on to a spouse, civil partner or partner. This is known as succession and is only possible if the tenancy has not previously been passed on this way. It can only take place if the spouse, civil partner or partner was living in the property at the time of the tenant’s death.