The following guide looks at frequently asked questions by Housing Association tenants in relation to assured tenancy agreements.
Do I have an assured tenancy agreement?
The most common type of tenancy agreement issued by a Housing Association is an assured tenancy agreement. You will probably be an assured tenant if your landlord is a housing association.
However, you should always check the terms of your agreement, or with the Housing Association directly, as in some cases you may be occupying your property under what’s known as an assured shorthold tenancy.
An assured shorthold tenancy is a type of assured tenancy agreement, but it does not give you the same security of tenure. Under a shorthold tenancy the Housing Association have the right to regain possession of your property six months after the beginning of the tenancy, provided they have given you two months’ notice.
Typically, an assured tenancy agreement will contain a provision within the agreement itself stating that it is an assured tenancy. Alternatively, you may have received written notice from the Housing Association, either prior to the commencement or your tenancy, or even after it has begun, to this effect.
You are unlikely to be an assured tenant, if, for example, you are a new tenant and have a starter tenancy. Your tenancy can also be demoted from an assured tenancy to a shorthold tenancy by order of the court as a result of anti-social behaviour caused by you or a member of your household.
How long will my assured tenancy agreement last?
An assured tenancy agreement can either be for a fixed term, for a number of months or years, or it can run indefinitely from one rent period to the next, where rent is paid on a periodic weekly or monthly basis.
If you are occupying your property under a fixed term assured tenancy, the Housing Association does not have the automatic right to regain possession at the end of that term.
Instead, an agreement will be reached with you to allow the tenancy to continue on a contractual periodic basis or, alternatively, the tenancy will automatically continue to run, with the same rent and terms, as a statutory periodic tenancy.
Can I be evicted under an assured tenancy agreement?
Under an assured tenancy agreement you have the right to remain in your property indefinitely provided you do not break the terms of that agreement.
If, however, the Housing Association can prove a ground for possession as set out under the relevant legislation, for example, illegal use of the property, anti-social behaviour or rent arrears, then you are at risk of being evicted.
That said, prior to asking the court for an order for possession, the Housing Association must first serve you with written notice using the prescribed form, ie: “Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Tenancy”.
In the event that you fail to leave the property on expiry of any written notice, the Housing Association must apply to the court in order to lawfully evict you.
What notice period am I entitled to under an assured tenancy agreement?
As previously stated, in order to evict you from your property, the Housing Association must first serve you with notice prior to applying to the court for an order for possession.
The earliest that court proceedings for possession can commence from the date of that notice will depend on the ground upon which possession is sought. Typically, this could be anything from two weeks to two months.
There is, however, one exception. If the Housing Association serves a notice on you on the basis that either you or a member of your household has been guilty of anti-social behaviour, proceedings for possession can be commenced as soon as that notice has been served.
In all cases, court proceedings must commence within 12 months of the date of the notice.
Will the court make an order for possession under an assured tenancy agreement?
Where the Housing Association seek an order for possession from the court they will need to prove a ground for possession as set out under the relevant statutory provisions. These include both mandatory and discretionary grounds.
Mandatory grounds include things like serious rent arrears (see below), or where antisocial behaviour has already been proved in another court, for example, you or a member of your household has been convicted of this type of offence or breach of an injunction.
Discretionary grounds include things like where you are persistently late paying the rent, you or a member of your household have caused nuisance and annoyance to neighbours, or some other breach of tenancy.
In respect of any mandatory ground, where proven, the court must grant an order for possession. In respect of discretionary grounds, the court will only grant a possession order if it thinks it reasonable to do so, based on all the facts of the case. Here, the court may make an order for possession, but suspend your eviction on condition that you comply with the terms of the order.
What happens if I am late paying my rent under an assured tenancy agreement?
If you are late paying your rent, the Housing Association will be in contact with you to demand payment of any arrears. In many cases, you ought to be able to come to an arrangement to repay the arrears without any further action being taken.
However, in the event that you are unable to clear these arrears, you breach any further agreement or are persistently late in paying your rent, the Housing Association may decide to seek an order for possession from the court.
In the case of rent arrears, to prove a mandatory ground for possession, ie; serious rent arrears, the Housing Association must show the court that at the time of the notice, and at the time of the hearing, at least eight-weeks’ rent is owed if you pay weekly or fortnightly, two-months’ rent is owed if you pay monthly, or three-months’ rent is owed if you pay quarterly or annually.
If you are able to reduce your arrears below the specified amount by the time of the court hearing, possession under this particular ground will not be granted. That said, as previously mentioned, the court still has the discretion to order possession based on the fact that there are some rent arrears, or you have been persistently late paying the rent.
What are my responsibilities under an assured tenancy agreement?
Under an assured tenancy agreement your main responsibilities are to pay the rent on time, to take proper care of the property and to use it in a responsible way. You are also under a duty to abide by the other terms of the agreement, for example, not to have pets where this is prohibited.
Typically, you will also be responsible for the payment of council tax, water rates and utility bills, including gas, electricity and any broadband charges.
What are my rights under an assured tenancy agreement?
Under an assured tenancy agreement you have the right to quiet enjoyment of that property, ie; without interference from the Housing Association.
In practice, this means that the Housing Association will need your permission if they want access to your property to inspect or carry out repairs. Typically, you will be given at least 24 hours notice of any inspection to take place or for works to be carried out, although your assured tenancy agreement may specify that additional notice is required, setting out the arrangements that will be made in the event that access is required.
Your right to quiet enjoyment also mean that the Housing Association cannot evict you without an order for possession from the court.
In addition, under an assured tenancy agreement you have the right for certain repairs to be carried out to the property by the Housing Association, to pass on your tenancy if you die, and in some cases, you may even be able to exchange properties with another Housing Association tenant.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law and should not be treated as such.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission.
Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.