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This is a type of tenancy agreement that is now commonplace. Introduced progressively over a 15-year period it has effectively side-stepped the concept of fair rents dictated by a Local Authority Rent Officer. As a result there is now far more rented accommodation available than in the early 1980s when the private rented sector appeared to be in terminal decline. The changes have been introduced slowly with all-party support. Since 1997 all new leases are automatically shortholds unless otherwise stated. The need for a separate notice to that effect has been dropped.

There are two types - an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ and an ‘assured tenancy’ where the shorthold aspect dealing with the repossession provisions is excluded. Because an ‘assured tenancy’ can be periodic and not have a definite date for termination it could run on for many years providing the tenant abides by the conditions and pays his rent on time. This type of agreement gives greater security to the tenant.

A shorthold is a flexible concept which can run for as little as six months or run for many years. Few are initially longer than three years for technical reasons but they can be for any specified fixed term. During that time a tenant who pays his rent and abides by the terms of the ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ agreement has security of tenure and this agreement will remain in force for the pre-determined period. The advantage for the landlord is that he is assured obtaining possession of his property at that time.

Of course, a tenant may give notice to leave after giving one month’s notice while the landlord, in exceptional circumstances, may apply to a court for possession after the first six months. Landlords must give two months’ notice to the tenants.

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