I sometimes get contacted by landlords in a panic. “My tenant will have been in the property for three years next month – should I evict her to prevent her having the right to buy me out?”
Or sometimes its the tenants, thinking that they are entitled to claim ownership or charge their landlords ginormous sums as a condition of moving out.
It is true that tenants who have been in a property for a long time HAVE been able to get big money if their landlord wants them out (Nearly Legal said he once got over £200K for a client in a comment on this blog).
However, this isn’t because they’ve been there a long time. It’s because when they moved in the law was different – ALL tenants at that time had those rights. Its just that there are fewer tenants now who have lived in their rented property since before January 1989.
And the right to big money is not absolute. You only get it (if you are a protected tenant) if your landlord desperately wants you out and is prepared to pay for it. If the landlord is quite happy to let you stay (so when you pop your clogs he can sell the property at market value and make a packet) there is nothing you can do about it. Other than live longer than him and dash all his hopes.
Tenant rights depend on when they first moved in
Generally the longer you have lived in a property, the stronger your rights to stay in the property are. Protected/statutory tenants under the Rent Act 1977 had the strongest rights. These are all tenants who have been in residence (or spouses of tenants who had been in residence) since before 1989. Ben talked about protected tenancies here.
If you moved in between January 1989 and February 1997, it is very likely that you have an assured tenancy. This will depend on the paperwork that you were given at the time you moved in (I explain the rules and s20 notices here). However if you do have an assured tenancy, then you too will have what is known as ‘security of tenure’ and it will be difficult for your landlord to evict you in most cases.
But again this is not because you have been there for a long time but because the law was different at the time you moved in.
However if you have a bog standard AST (or a common law tenancy), then after the proper form of notice has been served on you, your landlord is entitled to get the property back from you (and an order for possession if you don’t go) as of right. It doesn’t matter how long you have been there. For an AST tenant, your security of tenure is never more than two months (give or take a few days) or the end of your fixed term, whichever is the longer.
This post is part of my urban myths series. You can see the rest of the series >> here.