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Notices to quit: Landlords

This content applies to England

Where the landlord must serve a notice to quit (NTQ) to end a periodic tenancy (or licence) it must meet certain requirements to be valid.

When an NTQ is required

A landlord must serve an NTQ to end:

  • the tenancy or licence of an occupier with basic protection
  • certain tenants protected by the Rent Act
  • the tenancy or licence of an agricultural occupier not protected by the Housing Act 1988
  • a family intervention tenancy granted by a private registered provider of social housing.

An NTQ served by a landlord will not end a tenancy protected by the Housing Acts 1985, 1988 and 1996. This includes:

  • secure and flexible tenancies
  • introductory tenancies
  • demoted tenancies
  • assured and assured shorthold tenancies.

Notice period

The notice period must be at least:

  • four weeks[1] or
  • if it is longer, the period of the tenancy or licence (except for yearly periodic tenancies where the notice period is six months).[2];

A tenancy agreement may also require the landlord to give a longer period of notice.

In calculating the notice period, the day on which an NTQ is served is included but the last day referred to in the NTQ is not. For example, an NTQ served on a Tuesday that expires on a Tuesday four weeks later would comply with the four weeks' notice requirement.[3]

An NTQ must expire on either the first day or the last day of a complete period of the tenancy.[4] For example, an NTQ served on the first of a month to end a monthly tenancy that began on the first of January could expire on the first day of a whole period of the tenancy, ie the first of February. It could not expire on the last day of the period, ie 31 January, because that would not constitute a full monthly period of notice (it would be short by one day). 

Applying the requirements of an NTQ to a quarterly tenancy, the requirement for notice to include a full period of the tenancy means that if an NTQ was served on 15 January for a tenancy that began on the first of January, the earliest date that the notice could expire would be 30 June - the last day of a period - to allow at least one full quarter's notice to be given, and ending on the first or last day of a period.

An NTQ that includes an appropriately worded 'savings clause', for example 'Your tenancy will end on [date] or the day on which a complete period of your tenancy expires next after the end of four weeks from the service of this notice', will be valid.[5]

Possession proceedings cannot be commenced until the notice period has expired.[6]

Form and content

An NTQ must be in writing but does not need to be in any prescribed form.

However, an NTQ must include both of the the following statements:[7]

  • 'If the tenant or licensee does not leave the dwelling, the landlord or licensor must get an order for possession from the court before the tenant or licensee can lawfully be evicted. The landlord or licensor cannot apply for such an order before the notice to quit or notice to determine has run out.'
  • 'A tenant or licensee who does not know if s/he has any rights to remain in possession after a notice to quit or a notice to determine runs out can obtain advice from a solicitor. Help with all or part of the cost of legal advice and assistance may be available under the Legal Aid Scheme. S/he should also be able to obtain information from Citizens Advice, a Shelter advice centre or a rent officer.'

Service

The landlord must serve an NTQ on the tenant. In the event the tenant does not acknowledge service, the landlord must prove that the NTQ was served.

Section 196 of the Law of Property Act 1925 allows for valid service of the NTQ to be made by registered post or recorded delivery, or personal delivery to the tenant's property, but only when the tenancy agreement explicitly states that service will be effective where it is done in accordance with section 196. Alternatively, the agreement can provide expressly for service by these methods.[8]

An NTQ can be served by the landlord's agent when s/he has been given the appropriate authority.[9]

An NTQ once served cannot be withdrawn.[10]

Joint landlords/tenants

An NTQ served by only one joint landlord is sufficient to end a periodic tenancy (or licence). It is not necessary for any other joint landlord to consent or have knowledge of service.[11]

An NTQ served on only one of the joint tenants is sufficient to end a periodic joint tenancy.[12]

Fixed term agreements

An NTQ can only be served to end a periodic tenancy. An NTQ served by a landlord during the fixed-term of a tenancy will be invalid. It will not end the tenancy even if the notice period expires after the expiry of the fixed term.

The exception is if the tenancy agreement contains a break clause that allows for early termination. In this case the notice given must comply with the conditions set out in the agreement.

Wales

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.5 Protection From Eviction Act 1977.

[2] Doe d Peacock v Raffan [1806] 170 ER 812; Parker d Walker v Constable [1769] 95 E.R. 913.

[3] Schnabel v Allard [1967] 1 QB 627.

[4] Crate v Miller [1947] All ER 45, CA.

[5] Fletcher v Brent LBC [2006] EWCA Civ 960.

[6] Plaschkes v Jones [1983] 9 HLR 110.

[7] Notices to Quit etc. (Prescribed Information) Regulations 1988 SI 1988/2201.

[8] Wandsworth LBC v Attwell (1995) 27 HLR 536, CA.; Blunden v Frogmore Investments Ltd [2002] EWCA Civ 573; s.196 Law of Property Act as amended by the Recorded Delivery Service Act 1962.

[9] Jones v Phipps (1868) LR 3 QB 567.

[10] Tayleur v Wildin (1868) LR3 Ex 303; Fareham v Miller [2013] EWCA 159.

[11] Leckhampton Diaries Ltd v Artus Whitfield Ltd 83 LSG 875, QBD.

[12] Hammersmith and Fulham LBC v Monk [1991] UKHL 6.

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