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What is the fixed term of a tenancy agreement

There can be many variations of the fixed term of a tenancy agreement. Usually any tenancy agreement has a term. The term is the period in weeks or months or years.

Most of all tenancies can be named as Short lets, Standard lets and Long lets.

Short lets – under six months.

Often people think that a tenancy with a term of less than six months will be not assured shorthold tenancy. However although this was once the case, the rule was done away with in The 1996 Housing Act which came into force on 27 February 1997.

The difference with a short let is that the landlord cannot recover possession through the courts within the first six months of the tenancy. It means that if the tenant decides to stay on and continues to pay rent, the landlord cannot do a lot can do about it.

Often tenancies are let on a periodic basis, where the tenancy is originally let for a month or week, and after that, continue as a "periodic tenancy" from month to month or from week to week.

Standard lets – over six months but under three years.

Tenancies are often let for a term of one year, but less often for longer than this. The main problem with letting a property out for a longer term is if the landlord decides that he needs the property back again (he may want it back to live in himself) it can be difficult as the fixed term in the minimum term, unless there are specific break clauses

Break clauses. For this reason landlords are often advised to include a break clause in the tenancy agreement, so it can be ended by either party if they wish, upon complying with whatever procedure the break clause specifies. A break clause, which can only be used by the landlord, will be considered unfair and void under The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999.

Long lets – over three years

Actually tenancies with a term of over three years are rare. There are changes in the legal regime depending on how long the term is:

Long lets – over three years. This will normally still be an AST (or common law tenancy) but the tenancy agreement has to be signed as deed. A tenancy agreement is a document of title and under The Law of Property Act 1925 all documents of title need to be signed as a deed. According section 54 of this Act, so long as the term is less than three years, the tenant is paying a market rent, and the term starts immediately, the tenancy will be valid if there is just a signature.

Long lets – over seven years. For tenants would be better to avoid tenancy agreements with a term of more than seven years, as the landlords repairing covenants as set out in section 11 of The Lanlord and Tenant Act 1985 will not apply. The lease will also probably need to be registered at the Land Registry.

Generally long leases are granted for a much longer term, such as 99 years are bought for a premium with a low ground rent, and are considered by many people to be like buying the freehold of a property.


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