Tenant questions about tenancy agreement clauses and periodic tenancies

Tenancy agreementThis is a question to the blog clinic from Lisa (not her real name), who is a tenant in England.

My assured shorthold tenancy contract mentions this:

“The team certain of *Six months from the 26th August 2018 / *The number of months must not be less than six”.

Now, I have been living in the same property since then and haven’t signed any renewal contract, does this mean my contract is renewing automatically every month (as per the rent paid) or every six months?

The document also says that we need to comply with

“One month notice, in writing, with effect from the day that rent falls upon during months five of this tenancy provided that the duration of the tenancy will have been at least six months at the end of the one month’s Notice period”

Which makes it more confusing – if we need to wait until month 5 of the 6 months, or if I only need to give one-month notice as I have been living in the same property for more than 6 years.

Answer

It’s always a bit of a risk commenting on tenancy clauses without seeing the whole document.  But that said, I don’t think you need to worry about either clause.

The period of your periodic tenancy

The first quotation is about the fixed term of the tenancy – which would have ended in February 2019.

You are right when you say your tenancy is renewing. Assuming your tenancy agreement did not provide for a contractual periodic tenancy, you will now have a statutory periodic tenancy pursuant to section 5 of the Housing Act 1988.

This provides that if a tenant is still living in the property after the fixed term ends, a new periodic tenancy will be created where the ‘period’ will relate to the rent paid.

So, as you were paying rent monthly, the period of your periodic tenancy will be monthly.

The break clause and your periodic tenancy

The second clause appears to be a break clause, which seems to have been drafted on the basis that the fixed term would be longer than six months.  For your (six month) tenancy, it would have been irrelevant as it would have ended it more or less at the same time the fixed term would have ended anyway!

However, this wording will not apply to your periodic tenancy..

This is because of s5(3)(e) of the Housing Act 1988. This deals with the terms of any new periodic tenancy created under the act, saying that they are

the same as those of the fixed term tenancy immediately before it came to an end, except that any term which makes provision for determination by the landlord or the tenant shall not have effect while the tenancy remains an assured tenancy.

So, as the clause you quote is about ending the fixed term, it will have no place in your periodic tenancy.

Ending a periodic tenancy:

  • Tenants can end their tenancy by serving a notice to quit, the notice period of which will need to be the same as the period or (if the period is less than 28 days) 28 days
  • Landlords can (at the moment) request the tenant to vacate by serving section 21 notice, which has a minimum notice period of 2 months. If the tenant fails to vacate, this can (assuming the landlord has drafted the notice correctly and is compliant with ll relevant rules) obtain possession through the courts.

It is expected, however, that this will change during the coming year.  Either by the passing of the Renters Reform Bill or by some other legislation.

The post Tenant questions about tenancy agreement clauses and periodic tenancies appeared first on The Landlord Law Blog.

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