The end of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

16 Aug 2019

A change in the air could be coming for private landlords as the government discusses the future of Assured Shorthold Tenancies.

Most tenancies of residential accommodation are Assured Shorthold Tenancies. Different forms of shorthold tenancy have been in existence for many years. Landlords like them because they are reasonably simple to create and provided that all of the (vital) formalities for creating a shorthold tenancy have been complied with, the procedure for serving a notice under Section 21 Housing Act 1988 and then claiming a possession order in the County Court guarantees that the Landlord will obtain an order for possession at the end of the tenancy without having to prove any fault on the part of the tenant.

Landlords like this procedure because it is more straightforward than claiming possession based on fault grounds, where it is not always compulsory for the court to make an order.

This may all be about to change because the government is currently consulting on whether to repeal Section 21 of the Housing Act and to abolish Assured Shorthold Tenancies. The consultation will close on 12th October 2019.

The government’s thinking is that, if Assured Shortholds are abolished, the grounds for possession currently available under the Housing Act might need to be extended. The court possession process may also need to be revised to allow for more efficient processing of possession claims, possibly by extending the accelerated possession procedure (where there is no court hearing) so that it applies to other grounds for possession. In practise this is likely to be those grounds where a possession order is mandatory.

The Government has plenty of other things on its mind at the moment and so it is not clear when any change in the law might be implemented. However, even though there is likely to be a transitional period, changes may catch landlords unawares.

Other legislation already in force includes the Tenant Fees Act 2019 which applies to tenancies created on or after 1st June 2019. Under this legislation landlords may only charge a tenant “permitted payments”. Other charges (which might include set up fees or check out charges and similar) will be classed as prohibited payments and it will be illegal to charge them.

If you need any information either as a landlord or a tenant about creating tenancies or making or responding to possession claims please contact us at any of our offices and we will be pleased to assist you.