A decision in the Court of Appeal provides a warning to landlords that have multiple residential properties on their books. The court held that a letter sent in error by a landlord's employee constituted a notice, the effect of which was to convert the tenant's assured shorthold tenancy (AST) into an assured tenancy.
In this particular case, the tenant had been granted an AST for a probationary period of one year. The AST stated that if the tenant successfully completed the probationary period, the AST would be converted to an assured tenancy. The tenant breached the AST and the landlord sought possession of the property before the end of the probationary period.
However, the landlord's housing manager was unaware of the chain of events and sent out a standard letter, stating that the AST had been converted into an assured tenancy due to the tenant's successful completion of the probationary period. Landlords should ensure they have effective procedures in place to enable them to communicate with their tenants and avoid similar errors.
Key differences between ASTs and assured tenancies
- One way in which an AST can be converted into an assured tenancy is if the landlord serves a notice on the tenant, after the tenancy is granted, stating that it is to be an assured tenancy.
- Although a landlord must obtain a court order for possession where a tenant with either an assured tenancy or an AST does not vacate premises, the procedure is somewhat easier in the case of an AST.
- To gain possession in the case of an AST, the landlord must serve a notice on the tenant, giving the tenant at least two months’ notice that the landlord requires possession.
- As long as the landlord has correctly served this notice, the court must order possession.
- With an assured tenancy, however, the landlord will only obtain a court order for possession if they follow the correct procedure and can establish one or more grounds for possession.
More information: If you have any questions about the content of this checklist, please contact
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Graham Wilson is a member of the Property Team. He specialises in Commercial Property and has a particular interest in agricultural property. He advises the firm's substantial portfolio of agricultural clients in connection with property, as well as related taxation and commercial questions. He is also a part time chairman for the Residential Property Tribunal Service.
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The content of this update is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. It states the law as at January 2012. We recommend that professional advice is obtained on any particular matter. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising as a result of the use of the information contained in this update.