In the era of AirBnB, and short-term lettings posted on spareroom.com, could your agreement be considered an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
Answer – Yes! It could be.
What to look for?
It could be depending on certain markers:
- Was the property let for a holiday? But are you not actually on holiday but looking for somewhere to live for a short time as you have no other home (and was your landlord aware of this)?
- Do you have exclusive possession of the property?
- Do you have possession for a period of time? Fixed-term or periodic.
- Are you paying rent for the property? Not always essential.
- Is there an intention to create a landlord/tenant relationship?
If your answer is yes to all of the above, then despite the term of the agreement appearing to be short term, you actually have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).
Did you pay a deposit?
If you have an AST and your landlord has taken a deposit from you, they are obliged to secure it in a Government approved protected scheme.
Your landlord must then return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing on the amount to return.
If they have not paid it into a Government approved scheme the Court can make an order that your landlord would need to repay you the original deposit, plus up to 3 times the amount within 14 days of the Order being made.
Other Documents you should have received from your landlord.
Along with evidence of your deposit being secured and the prescribed information (information about your deposit which your landlord is obliged to let you have once it has been protected), your landlord should have given you
- An Energy Performance Certificate,
- A Gas Safety Certificate and
- The government’s ‘How to Rent’ Guide.
Without these, your landlord will be unable to use a Section 21 Notice in order to obtain possession of the property.
Leaving the property
Of course, if it were genuinely a holiday-let you would leave the property of your own accord at the end of your stay.
Likewise, if you were renting the property for a short period of time, despite your landlord failing to secure your deposit and furnish you with the correct documentation, again you would leave the property of your own volition.
However, things can change. No-one foresaw the global pandemic that we have all just experienced. If you were forced to remain in the property and you had nowhere else to go, your landlords cannot (unless perhaps the let is a genuine holiday let) force you to vacate without a Court Order.
Further, as your landlord is unlikely to have let the property in the proper way, their options for a legal eviction would be very limited. They are likely to try to negotiate with you.
The true nature of an agreement is not always what it looks like on paper. If you find yourself in a short-term and/or holiday let and you are unable to leave, or your landlord is failing to return your full deposit, seek legal advice.
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