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Changes To Tenancy Agreements In The UK

Changes To Tenancy Agreements In The UK

Ask any tenant what they feel the downside of renting a property is, and the typical response you will receive is their fear of eviction.

As a tenant, you know there’s nothing worse than receiving an eviction notice after recently moving into your dream home.

It’s not like moving house is easily done, especially when trying to find a home in the right catchment area for school and work, not to mention one close to family and friends.

Add this to the fact that moving house is a costly affair, and suddenly you understand why an eviction notice is not only frustrating but could also spell financial ruin in today’s turbulent economic climate.

Of course, reputable landlords aren’t in the habit of evicting their tenants at a moment’s notice, but serving notice on a tenant within the first six months of an AST is relatively easy due to current laws.

And to add insult to injury, your landlord doesn’t even need to provide a reason which can be very distressing to good tenants who pay their rent on time.

Thankfully this law is about to get a much-needed reform.

What’s Changing?

For the past twenty-five years, rental agreements in the UK and Wales have defaulted to the commonly known AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy).

However, this form of agreement between landlords and their tenants is due to change on 1st December 2022.

As a tenant, this may have you worrying about your future in your rental property but rest assured that these changes are for your benefit rather than a clever means to evict you from your home.

To understand this tenancy change, let’s take a look at ASTs (Assured Shorthold Tenancies), their current rules and regulations, and how they are due to change at the end of the year.

What Is An Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

Assured shorthold tenancy agreements enable landlords to rent out their residential property to tenants while retaining their right to repossess it at the end of the tenancy term.

With ASTs, the landlord is required to give the tenant a minimum of two months’ notice should they wish to end the tenancy.

ASTs also allow the landlord to specify certain tenancy conditions, such as the amount of deposit required, the rental payment amounts, and the frequency of these payments.

In addition, some ASTs have additional rules governing the tenancy, such as no smoking, no pets and, in some cases, no young children.

According to the Housing Act 1988,  a tenancy cannot be an AST if the following applies:

  • The tenancy agreement is dated before 15.01.1989
  • Rental payments exceed £100k per year
  • The property is used for business or agricultural purposes
  • The property is for holiday lettings only
  • Rent-free tenancy/low rent

Current AST Rules and Regulations

Assured shorthold tenancies as they currently stand have several rules and regulations that are due to change; these include:

  • No legal requirement for a written agreement
  • The initial fixed 6-month term cannot be broken unless both landlord and tenant agree.
  • Landlords cannot evict the tenant within the first 6 months even if there is no agreed fixed term.
  • Tenants can give one month /4-weeks’ notice after the fixed period has ended.
  • Landlords may serve the tenant with a section 21 notice (without reason) once the fixed term is complete. However, they must give the tenant a minimum of two months’ notice. This can be done at the end of month four if the fixed term is not longer than six months.

1st December AST Changes

From 1st December, changes to assured shorthold tenancy agreements will incorporate the following amendments:

  • Landlords have a legal obligation to supply written agreements.
  • Assured short hold tenancy agreements will now be ‘occupation contracts.
  • Tenants will become contract holders.
  • Occupation contracts can be periodic (week to week/month to month) or for a fixed term of up to 7 years.
  • Landlords cannot serve tenants with a section 21 notice within the first six months of the contract; after the first six months have passed, they must provide the tenant with six months’ notice should they wish to dissolve the contract. This means landlords will be locked into the occupation contract for the first twelve months of the agreement.
  • Period contract holders (weekly/monthly tenants) cannot give less than 4 weeks’ notice at any point in the contract.

Future Tenancy Changes Being Proposed For The UK

While the below proposals have made it into recent white papers, they are not currently law.

This means that although these areas are being reviewed, they could change and probably will take a long time before being presented in a Bill and made law.

Current tenancy changes proposed include:

  • Tenants can give 2 months’ notice to the landlord throughout the tenancy, including during the initial fixed term.
  • Section 21 notices to be done away with, and landlords will only be able to evict tenants in ‘reasonable circumstances,’ for example, missed rental payments.
  • All fixed terms or agreements with specified end dates will be scrapped and replaced with periodic tenancies.

Scotlands Rental Reform

Just across the boundary line, in December 2017, Scotland saw a similar rental reform, with the main change relating to scrapping a landlord’s right to evict tenants without reason.

If you live in Scotland, your tenancy agreement will be regulated by the following rules and laws:

  • Eviction notices must cite 1 of 18 specific reasons on the notice to leave.
  • Landlords must provide 28 days’ notice if the tenant has occupied the property for less than six months or 84 days’ notice if the tenancy has been longer.
  • Tenants can legally provide the landlord with 28 days’ notice at any point in the tenancy agreement.
  • No fixed tenancies with end dates; all agreements are open-ended.


Such positive changes in December will provide tenants with greater security and peace of mind.

Instead of anticipating an eviction notice within the first six months, tenants are legally protected for up to six months before the landlord can serve six months’ notice.

This equates to 12 months of protection. In addition, both the landlord and tenant are protected by the mandatory written agreement, and landlords also benefit from the four-week notice period that tenants must provide.

If you’d like to find out more about how Ashtons can help you contact one of our branches for further information.

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