Saturday, October 17, 2009

Urban Myth - Tenants who stay on after the end of their fixed term are ‘squatters’.

I do come across this view sometimes. Landlords telling me that their tenant has no right to stay on in their property, because he (the landlord) only agreed to let them live there for (say) six months.

In a way the law is rather pitched against landlords. Tenants can leave without penalty at the end of a fixed term, and don’t even have to give the landlord any warning that they are leaving (although it is a different matter if they stay on). However if the tenant does not want to move out, the landlord must service a two months notice, get a court order for possession and then instruct the County Court bailiffs before he can get his property back.

With assured and assured shorthold tenancies (i.e. most of those which started after 15 January 1989) the Housing Act 1988 specifically provides that if tenants stay on after the end of their fixed term, the law will create a new tenancy, a 'statutory tenancy' (because it is created by statue). This will be a ‘periodic’ tenancy, starting immediately after their fixed term ends, and will run on from month to month or from week to week, the 'period' depending on how their rent is paid. Apart from this, all the terms and conditions of the preceding ‘fixed term’ tenancy will continue to apply.

So when landlords (and tenants) say that tenants staying on ‘do not have a tenancy’ this is not true. They do. And so they are not squatters!

Do you know of any 'urban myths'? Or have you had any problems with this particular urban myth? Please post a comment if so, I would love to hear from you.

Click here to see all the Urban Myths.

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