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Giving Tenants Notice to Leave

How does a landlord get a tenant to leave their rental property?

The majority of landlords let their rental properties under a Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Under this type of tenancy giving notice to leave a rental property is a pretty straightforward process, but landlords do need to follow the correct procedures.

There are two types of forms that landlords can use to serve notice to leave – a Section 21 Notice and a Section 8 Notice.  Both notices are named after the relevant section in the 1988 Housing Act.

Ending a periodic tenancy is treated differently to ending a fixed term tenancy. Read what is a periodic tenancy and what is a fixed term tenancy.

Ending a periodic tenancy

When ending a periodic tenancy a landlord can use the non-fault based procedure to serve a tenant notice to leave a property. The non-fault based procedure uses a Section 21 (1) a Notice.

We provide users with copies of a free Section 21 Notice.

When using both types of Section 21 Notice a landlord has to provide the notice in writing (a prescribed form in not required in this case).  A landlord also has to give the tenant at least 2 months notice. The law has recently made it easier to use a Section 21 Notice to serve notice on your tenant.

So how much notice does a tenant need to give a landlord?

A tenant must provide the landlord with at least one months notice.  The notice to leave should be provided in writing in accordance to the Housing Act 1988 as amended.  However, the landlord does have the discretion to accept it in other forms such as email or even a text.  The main thing as regards the notice period is that it should be a months ‘clear notice’.  This means that there is a full month from the tenancy start date.  For instance, say a tenancy started on the 5th January and the tenant gives their landlord a months notice on the 8th January, they would still be liable for rent up to the 4th of March.

One ‘clear month’ notice would run from the 5th February until the 4th March.

If the tenant had given notice on the 3rd of January then they would have been able to leave on the 4th February and not be liable for any rent thereafter.

There is sometimes some confusion on dates in respect of tenancy dates and rent payments, which I’ve written about before to help landlords understand how to calculate the final rent payment.

Ending a fixed term tenancy

With a fixed term tenancy it is only possible to serve notices to end the tenancy during the fixed term tenancy on the basis that a tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement. This is what is known as fault based possession.  You will need to use a Section 8 Notice giving your tenant notice that you require your rental property back listing the grounds for possession.

We provide users with copies of a free Section 8 Notice.

It is possible to also serve a Section 21 (1) (b) Notice on your tenant during the fixed term.  However, a landlord  will not be granted possession until after the fixed term has ended.

Giving notice to leave to a lodger

If you are a resident landlord and your tenant has moved in after the 15th January 1989 then the chances is that the tenant may have an excluded tenancy or excluded licence.  The former is where the lodger has exclusive use of at least one room, whereas a licence to occupy is when the lodger does not have exclusive use of any part of the property they share with the landlord.

For an excluded tenancy, unless the ‘resident landlord’ and the tenant sharing the property agree otherwise, notice must be at least the length of the period and end on a rent day. However, there is no four-week minimum (so, for example, a weekly tenancy could be ended with a week’s notice), and the landlord and the tenant are free to agree in advance if they want that notice to be shorter or longer.The notice to leave does not need to be written, (so there are no requirements for prescribed form), but it is a good idea to put it in writing anyway, just in case of a future dispute.

However the notice is served, it must still be clear and be timed properly in order to be valid.

For excluded licences, the notice required is simply the longer of whatever has been agreed between the parties (if anything) and what is ‘reasonable’. Reasonableness can ultimately only be decided by the courts, but is a matter of fairness and common sense: for example, taking into account the licensee’s conduct, or how easy it would be for him or her to find alternative accommodation. Notice of the same length as would be required for a similar tenancy would normally be considered reasonable, but if there is likely to be a dispute it would be necessary to take legal advice. Again, there is no need in law for notice to be in writing, but it is recommended to do so.

Giving notice to leave under an Assured Tenancy

A landlord with an assured tenancy will need to obtain a court order for possession of the rental property.

Landlords will need to give their tenants written notice and the notice must:
•    Be in a prescribed form
•    Give the reasons why you are evicting the tenant – the grounds for possession
•    Specify the earliest date that the court action can take place

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