For how Long should an Assured Shorthold Tenancy be granted?

published on 11/08/2016  

Assuming a landlord goes for a fixed term tenancy, the vast majority of Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST’s ) are for periods of between 6 (the minimum legal length of an AST) and 24 months. We would always recommend 12 months (with a 6 month ‘break clause’- A break clause allows the tenant or landlord to serve notice to end the tenancy during month 4 [assuming that the notice period to end the tenancy is 2 months]. A break clause allows for added flexibility for both the Landlord and tenant/s), particularly if the tenant/s is (are) new to the landlord.

This way it is easier to for landlords to ‘serve notice’ if problems arise. There may be some advantages for landlords to a longer let, say 24 months plus, E.g. where the tenancy is being managed by an agent. It is also possible for a landlord to draw up a tenancy for longer or shorter periods; however there are implications for landlords in both cases.

Where a tenancy is for substantially more than 12 months and the tenant remains for a long period, unless specific steps are taken by the landlord to raise the rent, it will fall below the market level which generally increases as a result of inflation and rental growth.

If landlords wish to let for a shorter period, such as three months, landlords need to remember that; under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) the courts cannot order possession to take effect until after 6 months from the start of the tenancy. It could therefore be many months after the end of the fixed term before a landlord finally gets possession.

This however does not preclude possession being sought by a landlord on the following prescribed grounds - 2,8,10-15 or 17 – as long as the terms of the tenancy makes provision for it to be ended on any of these grounds by the landlord.

Alternatively if a landlord has no fixed time when they want possession, they can let on a Periodic Tenancy. This can be either weekly or monthly (most frequently monthly) and will go on from period to period, unless either the landlord or tenant serves notice to bring the tenancy to an end.