Deciding on the length of tenancy

For private rentals, the most common type of tenancy in the England is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. These tenancies usually begin as fixed term tenancies where the duration is defined from the outset, typically anywhere between 6 months to three years (but can be up to seven years) as mutually agreed between the landlord and tenant.

An AST can be terminated at the end of a fixed term or in line with a pre negotiated break clause within the agreement by either party. A landlord must always serve a prescribed notice (a Section 21 Notice) to gain possession of the property and may need to obtain a court order.

Currently it is necessary to give tenants at least two months’ prior notice which cannot be served until after the initial four months of the tenancy have expired and only in accordance with a break clause or at the end of the fixed term. However, if the tenant is in serious breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement (including rent arrears) then the landlord can apply to the courts for a possession order, citing one of the Grounds for Possession contained in the Housing Act 1988 (as amended).

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