Further to our article last month on the potential legal change to tenancies, namely to Assured Shorthold Tenancies, (AST’s) we wanted to expand the discussion further in the light of some very sane comments made by Frances Burkinshaw in The Negotiator magazine this month.
She is right when she states that there is a lot of discussion about a minimum “three year tenancy” being bandied about to help to provide tenants with security of tenure and to reduce the fear of having to leave after only a six month period. Despite the trend to issue an AST for a minimum of six months under current legislation there is no minimum term and no maximum term for an AST. The six month minimum is a fallacy brought about by years of bad advice. A landlord can serve a tenant once four months have elapsed to regain possession at 6 months. This does not mean however that a tenant cannot have a three month AST and leave at the end of that- it has just become perceived practice to have a minimum 6 month AST as many agents have these drawn up ready to be signed .
This all started in a different era when tenants were not planning on a long stay- just something to tie them over whilst house hunting. As house prices rose and buy-to lets created a completely new market appeared but still the six-month tenancy was the norm for most agents and landlords. Then as is now both the landlord and tenant can negotiate longer lets- say of three years. If a landlord has a good tenant he will not want him to leave- voids can cost money after all!!
On the other hand it is good for both parties to bring the tenancy to an end if it no longer suits their need.
Perhaps we should think about continuing to live with the current legislation but use it sensibly and in everyone’s best interest.
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