Security of tenure meaning

Security of tenure meaning

When you’re reading about what type of tenancy you have and what your rights are, you might find the phrase “security of tenure” popping up. It’s a pretty confusing term, and just reading it doesn’t give much away about its meaning.

Believe it or not, security of tenure isn’t referring to anything to do with locks or bodyguards - it’s legal-speak that defines one of the rights many renters have. So, if your looking for a breakdown of what security tenure actually is and how it will apply to you, you’ve come to the right place.

What is security of tenure?

Coming into existence with The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, security of tenure refers to tenants having the right to keep living in a property even after reaching the end of the fixed term on their tenancy agreement. In simpler terms, it means that once you reach the end of your tenancy period, unless you or your landlord has have given you notice, you will remain a tenant of the property. It also means that your landlord should not be able to evict you without a court order.

This security of tenure 1954 act exists to look after both the tenant’s and the landlord's interests - essentially giving them “security”. For the tenant, it’s a way of making sure they can’t be kicked out of their home without having enough time to find somewhere new to live. For the landlord, it helps ensure that they won’t suddenly lose some income without having time to secure a new tenant.

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Who has security of tenure?

Although it’s often brought up as one of the rights renters have, security of tenure can differ depending on your living situation. You can have different levels of security, and in some cases, you may not have security of tenure at all.

For example, if you’re living under a tenancy at will or are a lodger, in most cases you won’t have any security of tenure. These cases are often verbal agreements between the occupier and the landlord, so once a landlord removes their permission for them to stay at their property they will need to leave.

On the other hand, there are other tenancy types that can have much more security of tenure. Assured tenancies have the most - these tenancies usually last for the tenant’s lifetime, so they’re less concerned with the automatic right to stay in the property at the end of a fixed term. But, they also have more security when it comes to eviction.

Assured tenants can only be evicted via a court order on the grounds they’ve broken their tenancy agreement. Also, if they can make up for what they’ve done to break their agreement, they often don’t end up being evicted by the court. So, if they’ve been taken to court by their landlord for not paying rent, once they’ve paid the rent back the court order might be dropped.

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy (the most common kind) you’ll also have a good level of security of tenure. When your fixed-term ends you’ll have the right to stay at your place until you or your landlord decides to give notice. You can also only be evicted with a Section 8 or Section 21 notice. So, if you haven’t broken any terms of your tenancy agreement you’ll receive at least 2 months’ notice before your landlord can repossess the property.

How does security of tenure work?

So you’re coming to the end of your fixed term on your assured shorthold tenancy and you think you’d like to stay - you probably have plenty of questions. Do you still have to pay rent? Will there be an automatic lease renewal? Can you leave at any time?

As great as it would be to suddenly live rent-free, that’s not the case. Once you’re staying in the property beyond your fixed term you will continue to pay the same rent. In fact, all of the same terms from your tenancy agreement will still apply, so you’ll pay the same rent, on the same day, in the same way. Rules beyond the rent will still apply too, so your landlord will still keep a hold of your deposit, along with anyone else’s who is also on the tenancy agreement.

Often when you reach the end of your fixed term and you plan to stay, your landlord will ask you to renew or sign a new fixed-term tenancy agreement. If they don’t do this (or they just take a while to organise it) you will become a periodic tenant. If you’ve entered this period and you do decide to move, you won’t be able to leave whenever you want. You’ll still need to give notice, and if your landlord decides they want the property back, they’ll have to give notice as well.

Coming to the end of your fixed term and heard your landlord is planning on increasing your rent? Check out ‘How much can a landlord increase rent?’ to help you figure out just how much they might start charging.  

A few final tips…

All this talk of giving notice to your landlord sparked more questions? Well, we’ve got you covered. Read our blogs ‘How to give notice to landlord’ and ‘How much notice to give landlord’ for some top tips.

Security of tenure may be one right you didn’t know you had as a renter. Curious if there are any more? Check out our blog ‘What are my rights as a renter?’ for the lowdown on all your rights.

If you’re in search of some more helpful guides for renters and landlords, you’re in the right place. You might be interested in our blogs on ‘Do all tenants need to be on the tenancy agreement?’, ‘How long does a landlord have to return a deposit?’, or ‘A complete guide: tenant referencing UK’.