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Tag Archives: Urban Myths

Urban Myth – a tenant who stays in a property a long time gets special rights

Urban MythTenant rights

I sometimes get contacted by landlords in a panic.  “My tenant will have been in the property for three years next month – should I evict her to prevent her having the right to buy me out?”

Or sometimes its the tenants, thinking that they are entitled to claim ownership or charge their landlords ginormous sums as a condition of moving out.

It is true that tenants who have been in a property for a long time HAVE been able to get big money if their landlord wants them out (Nearly Legal said he once got over £200K for a client in a comment on this blog).

However, this isn’t because they’ve been there a long time.  It’s because when they moved in the law was different – ALL tenants at that time had those rights.  Its just that there are fewer tenants now who have lived in their rented property since before January 1989.

And the right to big money is not absolute.  You only get it (if you are a protected tenant) if your landlord desperately wants you out and is prepared to pay for it.  If the landlord is quite happy to let you stay (so when you pop your clogs he can sell the property at market value and make a packet) there is nothing you can do about it.  Other than live longer than him and dash all his hopes.

Tenant rights depend on when they first moved in

Generally the longer you have lived in a property, the stronger your rights to stay in the property are.  Protected/statutory tenants under the Rent Act 1977 had the strongest rights.  These are all tenants who have been in residence (or spouses of tenants who had been in residence) since before 1989.  Ben talked about protected tenancies here.

If you moved in between January 1989 and February 1997, it is very likely that you have an assured tenancy.  This will depend on the paperwork that you were given at the time you moved in (I explain the rules and s20 notices here). However if you do have an assured tenancy, then you too will have what is known as ‘security of tenure’ and it will be difficult for your landlord to evict you in most cases.

But again this is not because you have been there for a long time but because the law was different at the time you moved in.

However if you have a bog standard AST (or a common law tenancy), then after the proper form of notice has been served on you, your landlord is entitled to get the property back from you (and an order for possession if you don’t go) as of right.  It doesn’t matter how long you have been there.  For an AST tenant, your  security of tenure is never more than two months (give or take a few days)  or the end of your fixed term, whichever is the longer.


This post is part of my urban myths series. You can see the rest of the series >> here.

Urban Myth – when a landlord lets a property, its still his

Urban Myth

As discussed by Ben in his post on harassment, many landlords are outraged when a TRO tells them their conduct is illegal.  “Its my house isn’t it, so why can’t I go in when I like?” is a common response.  But what they don’t realise is that it isn’t their house any more. We haveContinue Reading

Urban Myth – you can only serve a section 21 notice on tenants who are in rent arrears

Urban Myth

Landlord s21 notices – are rent arrears necessary? I am prompted to write this Urban Myth post as it seems, from reading comments on the internet, that Ms Butler, the landlord in a tent, may have given this as the reason why she was couldn’t serve a section 21 notice on her tenant. Irrespective ofContinue Reading

Urban Myth – you can’t serve a section 21 notice during the fixed term

Urban Myth

Section 21 notices I’m not quite sure where this urban myth comes from, but I have heard it from quite a few people. Section 21, you will remember, is the section of the Housing Act 1988 which says that if you serve a notice on your tenant, giving all the proper information (as set outContinue Reading

Urban Myth – you can’t have a proper tenancy without a written agreement

Urban Myth

This is an urban myth which perhaps should be real but isn’t. Unfortunately you can have a proper legal tenancy without there being any paperwork at all. They are sometimes called oral tenancies. Oral tenancies An oral tenancy is where the tenant just goes in on a verbal agreement and a handshake (and sometimes notContinue Reading

Urban Myth – you don’t need to get a possession order if you use an abandonment notice

Urban Myth

When I started acting for landlords I had never heard of abandonment notices. I suspect that most lawyers reading this won’t have heard of them either. So far as I am aware, they are not mentioned in any of the law books. However they are a well known tactic among landlords and letting agents. WhatContinue Reading

Urban Myth – You have GOT to evict a tenant once the s21 notice expires

Urban Myth

This post is part of my urban myths series. You can see the rest of the series >> here. I often get asked by landlords about how long a section 21 notice lasts. Questions include: Can I let the tenant stay on after the end of the notice period? If I allow the tenant toContinue Reading

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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