In this section:
The Housing Act 1988 introduced two new types of tenancy into the private sector; the assured tenancy and the assured short hold tenancy. Due to this Act most tenancies granted by Housing Associations (HA) were removed from the remit of HA 1985 (Local Authority tenancies), and instead fell within HA 1988, with the Housing Association becoming a Registered Social Landlord (RSL). Subsequently, it is this Act which provides the framework for the majority of private residential lettings, be it a tenancy from a Housing Association or a private individual. Whilst there are many Housing Acts, the most significant changes in recent times came into being as a direct consequence of the Housing Act 2004 which has now become statute.
It is important to note that just because you have not been issued with a tenancy agreement that one does not exist. By virtue of your occupation and that you pay rent to someone means that a tenancy has been established.
Although the most common form of tenancy used in the non-social housing sector in Wales is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), there are many other forms of tenancy agreements used.
Tenancy agreements can be poorly written and contain terms that you may be unfamiliar with. You should always request a copy of the tenancy agreement and seek to understand your rights and obligations prior to signing. Once signed you may be liable to comply with those terms provided that they do not breach fair terms in consumer contracts. If in doubt you should seek professional advice.
Generally speaking there are three types of tenancy agreement that will usually apply if you are renting self-contained accommodation from a private landlord.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
If you moved into your home after 27th February 1997, it is likely that your landlord has given you an assured tenancy as opposed to an AST, this should have been pointed out to you at the time of signing the tenancy agreement or it may say so at the top of the agreement.
If you moved into your home between 15th January 1989 and the 7th February 1997 (inclusive) provided your landlord stated that you were going to be an assured shorthold tenant before you moved in, and you were given written notice, that is what you will be.
Certain information should have been contained in the notice you were given and if it wasn’t, it is possible that you could be an assured tenant with more rights than if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. You can get further advice on your tenancy agreement from Citizens Advice, Shelter, a solicitor or Trading Standards.
If you are presented with an AST to sign by your landlord or letting agents you will see a clause in it related to a fixed term of normally 6 months or 12 months during which time you agree to rent the property and the landlord agrees to let it to you.
The landlord’s right to regain possession of the property is clearly written into the AST and provided a section 21 notice is served giving you at least two months’ notice to leave the property, the landlord is legally able to evict. No reason is necessary. This is referred to as a no fault eviction.
The landlord cannot evict you during the first 6 months of the tenancy agreement. This is referred to as the 6 months moratorium, however some serve notice that the tenancy will end on the 6 months anniversary of the let.
Assured Tenancy Agreement (ATA)
If you moved into your home after 15th January 1989 but before 28th February 1997 and you were not told that you had an assured shorthold tenancy by your landlord before you moved into the property, you will probably have an Assured Tenancy agreement (AT).
If you moved into your home after 28th February 1997 and you received a notice from your landlord confirming an Assured Tenancy, before you moved into the property, as opposed to an AST you will be an Assured Tenant.
Another circumstance in which you could have an assured tenancy would be if the tenancy was passed to you when the regulated tenant died.
Rent Act Tenancy (RAT)
A Rent Act tenancy agreement is afforded many more rights than those of other private tenancy agreements. As a Rent act tenant, you would have to have moved into your home before 15th February 1989 and be paying rent to a private landlord. For more information on Regulated Tenancy agreements visit the Shelter website.
Secure or Assured Tenancies
If you live in a council or housing association house or other form of social housing you will probably have an secure or an assured tenancy agreement. However, this will not be the case if you live in temporary homeless accommodation, a housing co-operative, a residential or nursing home, supported housing or a property in shared ownership.
Lodgers and Excluded Occupiers
If you live in a property with your landlord and you share a bathroom, lounge, or kitchen your status is likely to be that of a lodger or an excluded occupier. In this case you will not have very many rights and are not classed as a tenant. For example, if you have a written agreement from your landlord stipulating how long you can stay, after this time has elapsed the landlord can ask you to leave and you have to go. You can be evicted quite easily upon being given reasonable notice to leave (which doesn’t have to be in writing) and a court order is not required to evict you.
It is good practice to have a license or written agreement of ‘house rules’ before becoming a lodger as you do not have the right to exclude your landlord from any part of the house therefore, you should not keep your room locked at any time, but can agree the terms of your privacy beforehand. Your landlord can also ask you to switch rooms at any time for any period.
This is one of the least secure tenancies since objecting to an increase in rent could easily result in eviction and if you feel something needs to be repaired, because you have so few rights, it may be very difficult to get the job done.
You will also have the status of an excluded occupier if you are living in a Bed and Breakfast Accommodation (B&B) or a hostel.
If you live in the same building as your landlord but there are no shared facilities you will have basic protection as an occupier. If you are living in a block of flats your status will be different but you will be an occupier if for example, your landlord lives in a separate bedsit within the same house.
However, Welsh Tenants advise that you may have a “restricted contract” if you moved into your home before 15th January 1989 and your landlord is also in residence, whether you share the home and facilities or not. It would be very unusual for you to be a restricted contract tenant (RCT) because it is likely that the terms of the agreement you have with your landlord could have changed since 15th January 1989. For example, your rent may have increased in which case your status would be that of an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier. Nevertheless, Welsh Tenants advise that you seek advice if you feel you have a valid restricted contract.
You will also have the status of occupier with basic protection if you are a student living in accommodation provided by your college or university or if you are employed by the Crown.
Basic protection affords you few rights but if your landlord wants you to leave, an eviction process must be followed observing the correct legal procedures. More advice can be obtained from Shelter or Citizens Advice.
If the company you work for has provided you with accommodation and it is necessary for you to live in the accommodation in order to carry out your duties, you will probably have the status of a service occupier (SO). Your rights as a service occupier will be written into your contract of employment. The Welsh Tenants advises that you look at your employment contract carefully since usually a maximum of 4 weeks’ notice is given from the date you stop working for your employer
If you work on a farm and your accommodation has been provided by your employer you will be an agricultural occupier (AO) and have significant rights when living in “tied accommodation”. See Shelter Cymru “Agricultural Occupiers”