Short Lets – I want to let out my flat for 3 months whilst I’m away from home for a short time. How can I be sure that I can get my home back when I return? I’ve been told that I cannot get it back in less than 6 months?
It is true that with a normal letting you cannot guarantee regaining possession, even when it is your main residence, in under 6 months. An Assured Shorthold Tenancy can be based on any period or even on a periodic basis (monthly or weekly), but if the tenant decides to stay on, there’s nothing you can do about it until 6 months is up.
Even then, if the tenant digs in, you need to have served a two-month section 21 notice, before you can apply for possession.
Unfortunately, given the speed at which our courts work, it is likely to be at best another 6 weeks before you can put your feet up in your own living room.
Having said all that, there is way of granting a residential tenancy which is shorter than 6 months, providing (1) this is your main residence, and (2) that you wish to return to it.
In this case you can use either an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) or a Standard Assured Tenancy (SAT) for any period you choose less than six months, but you must serve a Ground 1 Notice (Schedule 2 Ground 1 Housing Act 1988) before the agreement is signed informing your tenant that you will want to return. You must keep a receipted copy.
Another option is to avoid creating a tenancy at all, but instead let on a short-term license. To successfully claim that this is a license situation you would need to have access to the property (tenant does not have exclusive possession) usually achieved by providing a regular cleaning and fresh linen service.
A word of warning: if you are not confident with the rather complex legal process involved you should use a solicitor to do this for you. Also, bear in mind that if you need to apply for a possession order it is likely add considerably to your agreed short let to regain possession. In many such cases, unless you are sure your tenant will comply, it may be safer to leave your property vacant.
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