Assured Shorthold Tenancy Tenants’ Notice to Quit – Is it valid?

Common Law

  • * The minimum period for a notice to quit is a complete period of the tenancy
  • * The notice period must end on the last day of a period of the tenancy
  • * A notice that expires on the first day of a period of the tenancy has the same effect as a notice ending on the previous day


Statute

  • * A notice must be in writing
  • * A notice must be given not less than 4 weeks before the date on which it is to take effect


Case Law

  • * If the period of the tenancy is longer than 4 weeks, the notice period is equivalent to the period of the tenancy, except for yearly periodic tenancies where the notice period is six months
  • * Once served a notice cannot be withdrawn
  • * In calculating the notice period, the day on which a notice is served is included but the last day referred to in the notice is not. For example, a notice served on a Tuesday that expires on a Tuesday four weeks later would comply with the four weeks’ notice requirement.
  • * A notice must expire on either the first or last day of a period of the tenancy. For example, a notice 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, i.e. the first of February. It could not expire on the last day of the period, i.e 31 January, because that would not constitute a full monthly period of notice (it would be short by one day).
  • * A notice that includes an appropriately worded ‘savings clause’ will be valid


Editors Note: There is no rule of law that requires a tenant to give notice to end a fixed term tenancy. The now withdrawn guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements published by the Office of Fair Trading in September 2005 stated:


A fixed term tenancy comes to an end when the fixed term runs out and a tenant does not have to give notice to end it.


The guidance implied any clauses requiring a tenant to give notice to end a fixed term tenancy is a misleading termination clause.


The same guidance objects to terms that impose a contractual obligation on the tenant to give notice in order for the tenancy to be terminated at the end of the fixed term.


Editors Note: We are not aware this particular guidance has ever been tested in court. The same guidance suggests landlords should serve a notice requiring possession if they want to make it clear they want to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term. This is not a very elegant solution. Aside from the complexities of such notices it would create uncertainty for the tenants having been served with a ‘sword of Damocles’ notice so early in a tenancy. A tenant notifying the Landlord they plan to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term is a reasonable courtesy.


Contract


* A tenancy agreement may require the tenant to give a longer period of notice.

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