Just How Long is a Long-Term Let? A Guide for Landlords and Renters
by Property Investments UKThe Property Investments UK editorial team have been researching and writing about the UK's property market for more than a decade.
Several different terms are used in the lettings industry to describe types of letting. There are short-term lets, long-term lets, holiday lets and student lets amongst others. Here we will look at how long a long-term let should be.
What Exactly is a Long-Term Let?
There is no exact legal definition of what a long-term let is.
A residential long-term let is usually regarded as a property that is let to someone (or a property that is rented by someone) to live in as their permanent home.
Long-term lets are the most common type of let.
Long-term lets may also be known as long-term tenancies or long-term leases. They are the same thing.
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Exactly How Long is a Long-Term Let?
How long is a piece of string? A long-term let is a relative term.
There is no exact legal definition of what a long-term let is. But there are a few clues to suggest what it might be.
A long-term let would normally be at least six months long, as few people would want to let or rent a property to use as a permanent home for less than six months. The usual maximum length of an assured shorthold tenancy for a private residential letting in England is 12 months. (Although it can be renewed for further periods or roll over into a periodic tenancy for an indefinite period.)
So a good description of a long-term let is that it is a let lasting for anything from 6-12 months.
Alternatively, some people may describe a let that lasts between six and 12 months as a medium-term let.
Following that definition, it follows that letting for less than six months is generally considered to be a short-term let. A holiday let is a type of short-term let.
According to the recent English Housing Survey, long-term tenants had lived in their homes for an average of 4.4 years.
Is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy a Long-Term Let?
It is usual practice that assured shorthold tenancies (or ASTs) in England are for either six months or 12 months. So, yes, an assured shorthold tenancy would be considered to be a long-term let.
The upcoming Renters (Reform) Bill is proposing some changes to tenancies in England. If it becomes law all tenancies will be periodic tenancies which will roll over normally every month. These periodic tenancies will meet the definition of a long-term let.
Is a Student Let a Long-Term Let?
Student lets are very often for the academic year only. That is, from September to June the following year or a period of around 9 months. So, yes, a student let would normally be considered to be a long term let.
Differences in Scotland and Wales
Scotland and Wales have different letting rules and regulations but most lets meet the same definition of a long-term let.
In Scotland a private residential tenancy is open-ended and will last until the tenant wishes to leave the let property or the landlord uses one (or more) of the 18 grounds for eviction.
In Wales, most people who rent their home from a private landlord will get an occupation contract called a standard contract. This will either be a fixed-term standard contract of at least six months or a periodic standard contract.
Pros and Cons for Landlords
Long-term lets have a number of advantages for landlords:
Once you grant a long-term let to a tenant you will hopefully have a guaranteed income for the entire length of the let.
A tenant on a long-term let, rather than the landlord, is responsible for the Council Tax and utility bills.
Long-term lets generally involve less work than short-term lets. For example, tenants are normally responsible for cleaning, garden and minor maintenance.
It’s often not realised that one of the advantages of long-term lets is that it is easier and cheaper to get a mortgage on the property than for other types of letting.
Long-term lets, however, can offer some drawbacks for landlords:
Long-term lets involve landlords with more legal obligations.
With a long-term let, so long as the tenant pays the rent and abides by the tenancy, you cannot get your property back until the tenancy ends.
Tenants have a right of occupancy with a long-term let under an AST. It can be difficult to evict them except for specific reasons.
With a long-term let, the landlord remains responsible for most maintenance.
Long-term lets do not usually earn the highest rents nor offer the highest lettings yields. A short-term let will likely make more money.
Pros and Cons for Tenants
Long-term lets offer tenants security of tenure. As long as you abide by the tenancy and pay the rent you are legally entitled to stay in the property until the end of the tenancy.
As a tenant on a long-term term let, you cannot be evicted until the end of the tenancy, except for very specific legal reasons.
With a long term let the landlord usually handles most maintenance. You have no property maintenance to deal with.
Long-term lets are mostly unfurnished lets. You’ll need to provide your own furniture.
Once you take on a long-term let you will have to stay in the property and pay the rent until the tenancy ends. This can be a problem if your circumstances change. For example, if you want or need to move or if you can no longer afford the rent.