Assured Shorthold Tenancy vs. Secured Tenancy: what rights do landlords have?

A UK landlord can create tenancies as Assured Shorthold Tenancies or Secured tenancies (as well as a few other types), and each gives the landlord and the tenant different rights. In the event that an eviction becomes necessary or desirable, which type of tenancy you have becomes very important.

What is an Assured Tenancy?


Assured Shorthold Tenancies are the most common type of tenancies today. Most agreements that began after 1989 are ASTs. It was created by the Housing Act of 1988, and redefined slightly in the Housing Act of 1996. A very similar tenancy, called a Short Assured Tenancy, is common in Scotland.

What are a landlord’s eviction rights under an AST?


The most important aspect from the landlords point of view is the security of the tenure. ASTs are less ‘secure’ than Secured Tenancies, and landlords can typically evict tenants with 2 months’ notice after the initial rental term (or after 4 months if that is greater than the rental term) with a ‘section 21 notice’, or with only 14 days’ notice using a ‘section 8 notice’. Note that a section 8 notice is only valid under certain narrow circumstances.

A landlord has much more power to evict under and AST than under a Secured Tenancy. Nonetheless, if the tenant refuses to go, the landlord must seek a court order to force them to leave, and the actual eviction must be accomplished by a bailiff.

What is a Secure Tenancy?


Secure Tenancies were once the standard form of tenancy in the UK, but since 1989 they can only be set up deliberately. A Secure Tenancy gives the tenant the right to live on the property for the rest of their life, so long as they meet all their duties under the tenancy agreement. Tenants also automatically have the right to take in lodgers (for pay or not) as well as family members or partners without the landlord’s consent or notice.

Many landlords find this highly constraining, and it was mainly for that reason that ASTs were developed. Because Secured Tenancies give the landlord much more limited power to evict, most have elected to offer ASTs after they were introduced. Today, secured tenancies are more common in certain types of social housing.

What are a landlord’s eviction rights under a Secure Tenancy?


Unless the tenant breaks the tenancy agreement, the landlord simply has no right to evict. They have to establish a valid legal reason for the eviction, and get a court order for the eviction to proceed.

This, of course, severely limits a landlord’s ability to make changes to the property or to change its use.

The good news, at east form the landlord’s perspective, is that since the AST was made the ‘default’ tenancy type in 1989, it is virtually impossible to enter into an assured tenancy by mistake. However, if you are buying a property that is currently tenanted, make sure you ask to see the tenancy agreements before making the purchase. You might otherwise find yourself saddled with a Secure Tenant who could severely curtail your long term plans for the property!