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A protected tenancy is a Lease that is governed by the rent act (1977) and related legislation. Under this legislation a protected tenancy arose automatically when a person rented a domestic property as his main home. The main characteristics of a protected tenancy were that (1) the tenant could stay as long as he liked, unless the landlord would otherwise be reduced to living in a cardboard box in the middle of a motorway and (2) the landlord could not increase the rent except in accordance with complex statutory provisions. The protected tenancy was very favourable to tenants, but it had two undesirable consequences. First, it led to a more-or-less complete absence of affordable rented accomodation throughout large parts of the UK. Potential landlords would prefer to leave their properties empty than risk someone taking occupation at a low rent forever. Second, it led to the few remaining landlords trying to seek legalistic ways of letting their properties without getting burdened by protected tenants. This led to the barrage of litigation on the difference between a 'lease' and a 'licence' (see lease or licence).
The housing act (1988) disposed of protected tenancies as the default form of residential tenancy. Any new residential would default to being an AssuredTenancy. An assured tenancy was less favourable to tenants because, although it offered a measure ofstatutory protection from eviction, there were far fewer controls on rent. Subsequently even the assured tenancy was deemed to be too favourable to tenants, and it was replaced, in the housing act (1996), by the assured shorthold tenancy which is, on the whole, little more than a licence.