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Residential tenants’ rights in the UK reached their zenith under the Rent Act 1977. This provided that landlords could only charge fair rents and were unable to recover possession automatically from tenants who had fallen into arrears.

Policy-makers’ attitudes changed in the 1980s, when it was recognised that these burdens led some residential landlords to sell their properties and seek more lucrative returns in other sectors. Aiming to reverse the decline of rented housing and improve its quality, the Conservative government introduced assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) in 1988.

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