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Tenancies and licences ended by landlord notice to quit

This content applies to England

Tenancies and licences that can be ended by a landlord serving notice to quit (NTQ) and the requirements for a valid notice. 

When a notice to quit 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

Tenancies not ended by a notice to quit

An NTQ served by a landlord does 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

A landlord must serve the appropriate notice of seeking possession before bringing possession proceedings on these types of tenancy. 

Covid-19: Extended minimum notice period for Rent Act tenants

This applies only to Rent Act tenancies in where the landlord wants to end the contractual phase of the tenancy by serving a notice to quit.

For notices served between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020 the minimum notice to quit period was three months.[1]

For notices served between 29 August 2020 and 31 March 2021 the minimum notice to quit period is six months, unless exceptions apply.[2]

The six-months' rule is subject to the following exceptions:

Four weeks’ notice

The minimum notice to quit period is four weeks if:

  • at least six months’ rent is unpaid[3]
  • the notice to quit is served in the circumstances related to anti-social behaviour[4]

Three months' notice

The minimum period of the notice to quit is three months if the notice is served because the tenant has failed the right to rent rules.[5]

The 'Technical guidance on eviction notices' document which forms part of the updated government guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities contains a table summarising the minimum notice requirements for each tenancy.

After the contractual phase ends and the tenant remains in occupation, a statutory phase will arise and the landlord will have to apply to court to regain possession of the property. For more information about notice requirements to end the statutory phase of a Rent Act tenancy, see Landlords notices to leave: Regulated tenancies.

For the grounds available against statutory Rent Act tenants see the pages on Discretionary grounds and Mandatory grounds.

Standard minimum notice period

The minimum notice period for a valid notice to quit must be at least:

  • four weeks[6] or
  • if it is longer, the period of the tenancy or licence (except for yearly periodic tenancies where the notice period is six months).[7]

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

Calculating the notice period

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.[8]

An NTQ must expire on either the first day or the last day of a complete period of the tenancy.[9] For example, in the case of a monthly tenancy commencing on the first of the month, the notice can expire on the last day of any given month or the first (even if that is a short month, such as February).

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.[10]

Possession proceedings cannot be commenced until the notice period has expired.[11]

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:[12]

  • '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 he has any right 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. He should also be able to obtain information from a Citizens' Advice Bureau, a Housing Aid 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.[13]

An NTQ can be served by the landlord's agent when s/he has been given the appropriate authority.[14]

An NTQ once served cannot be withdrawn.[15]

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.[16]

An NTQ served on only one of the joint tenants is sufficient to end a periodic joint tenancy.[17]

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.


[1] s.5(1) Protection from Eviction Act 1977, as amended by para 2(1)(-2) Sch 29 Coronavirus Act 2020; para 1 Sch 29 Coronavirus Act 2020; see Coronavirus Act 2020 before 29 August 2020.

[2] paras 2(2) and 2(3) Sch 29 Coronavirus Act 2020, as amended by reg 3(3) The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/914.

[3] para 2(2) Sch 29 Coronavirus Act 2020, as amended by reg 3(3) The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/914.

[4] circumstances in Case 2, Sch 15 Rent Act 1977; see para 2(2) Sch 29 Coronavirus Act 2020, as amended by s.3(3) The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/914.

[5] circumstances in Case 10A Sch 15 Rent Act 1977; see para 2(2) Coronavirus Act 2020 as amended by s.3(3) The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/914.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[13] 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.

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

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

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

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

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