An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is the most common form of residential tenancy in England and Wales.

A residential tenancy, which has been created on or after 28 February 1997, will usually be an AST.

What makes a tenancy an AST?

For a tenancy to be an AST, the following must apply:

  • The tenant must be an individual;
  • The tenancy must not be an exempt tenancy under the relevant legislation;
  • The property must be occupied as the tenant’s principal or only home:
  • The rent must be more than £250 (or £1,000 in London) but less than £100,000 per year.

How long is an AST?

An AST is normally granted for a 6 or 12 month period but there is no minimum or maximum required period.

What happens upon expiry of any fixed term?

If an AST is granted for a fixed term and the term comes to an end, the parties can agree a new tenancy for a further fixed term.  If no new tenancy is agreed, the original tenancy continues as a statutory periodic tenancy on exactly the same terms as before.

What if I want my property back?

There is currently a ‘no fault’ procedure for recovering possession at the end of the fixed term, or during a periodic tenancy. This is the Accelerated Possession Procedure.  Before using this procedure, you will need to have served a valid S21 Notice.

Accelerated Possession Procedure 

After service of a S21 Notice, if your tenant does not vacate, you can use the accelerated possession procedure to recover possession.

This is an application to the county court. If your paperwork is in order, the court will grant you a possession order without the need for a hearing.

This procedure is potentially available to you if:

  • You have served a valid S21 Notice
  • You are claiming possession only – you cannot claim a money judgment for any rent arrears
  • The agreement is a written tenancy agreement
  • You are able to provide evidence that your deposit was properly protected and the prescribed information given

You can apply for a possession order to be made 14 days after the court proceedings are served by the court on your tenant.  The claim is then placed before a Judge who, if he is satisfied with the paperwork, will usually make an order for possession to be given up 14 days after the date of the order. The process from the issue of proceedings to making a possession order will usually take between 4 and 6 weeks depending upon how busy the court is.

If the Judge has any queries about service, or validity of the notice, he may list the case for a hearing.

Can my tenant challenge the making of a possession order?

Your tenant will be served with the court claim form and given a chance to request additional time.  If the court thinks that there will be exceptional hardship caused to the tenant, it has power to suspend or postpone possession for up to a maximum of 6 weeks. After that, you would be entitled to possession. The court will only give this extra time if there is good reason.

What if my tenant does not leave when the order expires?

If your tenant does not vacate, you can issue a possession warrant, asking the court bailiff to fix an eviction appointment.  Your tenant will have to leave when the bailiff attends at your property on the eviction appointment.

About the author

Mary Rouse Partner

Mary specialises in housing management advice for registered providers and in residential landlord and tenant. With some 20 years’ experience in these sensitive areas, she is able to offer clear advice and pragmatic solutions.