A tenancy is another word for ‘Lease’ and is generally used for short lets where the fixed term is less than 3-5 years (although most fixed terms for short lets are for 6 months or a year).  

The word Lease is normally used for long lets of over 21 years.  There are very few lets with a term of between 5 and 21 years.

A lease (or a ‘term of years’) is one of the two ‘legal estates in land’ which, per section 1 of the Law of Property Act 1925 can exist.  The other legal estate is freehold.

A lease is created out of a freehold interest (or sometimes from another longer lease) and when the lease/tenancy ends, the property reverts to the landlord or ‘lessor’ (the person who grants a lease).  

While the lease or tenancy exists the landlord or lessor is entitled to receive rent (for long leases this is known as ‘ground rent’) and has the right to get the property back when the lease or tenancy ends (known as the ‘reversion’).


People often assume that because a tenancy is for a short period of time, it is not a proper lease and that landlords have greater powers than in fact they have in law.

However this is not the case and, for example,

  • landlords do not have the right to enter the property without the tenant’s consent (save maybe in an emergency such as a serious fire), or
  • to evict tenants other than through the courts

Tenants have many legal rights and obligations in law which both landlords and tenants need to be aware of.