What is Assured Tenancy?

For an assured tenancy to be in effect, the letting must be a separate dwelling-house and the tenant, or joint-tenant, must be using the property as either their only or their principal home.

A separate dwelling-house means that the property must provide the tenant with at least some form of distinct accommodation, whether that be an entire house or flat, or just a single room. Therefore, a shared property can be classed as a separate dwelling if the tenant has private use of their own bedroom despite sharing kitchen facilities.

 

What counts as a principal home?

To keep a property as a principal home means either to live exclusively at that property or to live there for the majority of the time. The occupation of the property does not have to be unbroken, so the occupant can spend some time living at another address for a longer period, if for example they spend time living abroad.

In these circumstances, the tenant will often have to display their realistic intent to return to the property to resume the assured tenancy. This is often shown through leaving a caretaker in charge of the property – someone who checks in on the property and the tenant’s furniture and belongings at the address.  

 

The difference between assured and assured shorthold tenancies

An assured shorthold tenancy is a category found within assured tenancies. The main difference that separates the two is that assured tenancies are lifelong agreements that will only end if the tenant chooses to leave or if they are evicted.

Assured tenancies hold more security of tenure for tenants over assured shorthold tenancies. If a landlord wanted to regain possession of a property under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, they could just wait until the contract period expires and then regain the property.

For an assured tenancy though, the tenant has the potential for lifelong possession of the property. The landlord would have to apply for a possession order from the court to evict the tenant, providing evidence that they have broken one or more terms of the tenancy agreement.

Originally, as was specified in the Housing Act 1988 and came into effect in January 1989, assured tenancies were the default form of tenancy agreement unless a shorthold clause was specified in the contract. In an amendment to the Housing Act in February 1997, this was switched so that tenancy agreements are now shorthold by default unless specifically defined as otherwise.

 

Am I an assured tenant if I live in a housing association property?

Tenancy agreements for housing association properties tend to be assured tenancy agreements. Though the tenant could be on a starter tenancy agreement or had their assured status removed because of antisocial behaviour or another factor detrimental to their tenancy agreement.

Starting tenancies are 12-month fixed term tenancy agreements that housing associations commonly use to vet new tenants through a probational period. After this period, if the housing association has no issues with the tenant and choose to either extend their starter period or evict them, the tenancy will usually move on to an assured tenancy agreement.

Another avenue that a housing association may go down though is a periodic tenancy. This type of tenancy agreement rolls on per tenancy period specified, month to month or quarterly for example, and requires at least one period of notice before tenants or landlords cancel the contract. If you pay rent weekly, the notice period will be at least 28 days.

 

Can tenants work from home in an assured tenancy?

For many years now the number of people working from home has steadily increased. Since 2020 though this number has rocketed. Many people will now find themselves in situations where they will be asked to work from home more permanently, or perhaps they would prefer to after experiencing it for themselves. 

The issue with this is that assured tenancy agreements often come with a clause that the property is not to be used for business use. A specific business tenancy agreement would be needed instead.

This clause is included into assured tenancy agreements to prevent situations where there may be excess visitors to the rented property or excess noise from machinery for example that may affect neighbours.

So for people occasionally working from home by themselves, using their computer or manufacturing small goods by hand, working from home should be perfectly acceptable without discussion with their landlord.

If there is a genuine concern regarding the condition of the property due to a tenant’s home business however, then a tenant may need to seek permission from their landlord despite the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

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