Published: 17/11/2023Being a landlord across London often involves the decision to end tenancies for various reasons. Understanding the intricate legal processes is paramount whether you're looking to move into your property, sell it, or deal with legal concerns like rent arrears or antisocial behaviour. Failure to follow the proper procedures could lead to unlawful evictions, leaving landlords obligated to compensate their tenants.
Giving Tenants the Heads Up
Our step-by-step guide sheds light on landlords' responsibilities when bringing a tenancy to a close and how to do it while staying on the right side of the law.
Do Landlords Have to Give Notice to End a Tenancy?
Are you considering ending a tenancy? Well, providing proper written notice to your tenants is a must. The timeline for this depends on the type of tenancy agreement and its terms. Don't navigate this alone – seek advice from your letting agency or solicitor.
How Much Notice Must a Landlord Give to End Tenancy?
The correct notice period is contingent on your agreement. While you can't force a tenant to vacate before a fixed-term contract concludes, serving a repossession notice (Section 21) is an option, provided the vacation date aligns with the fixed term's end. Two months' written notice is typically required unless the tenancy agreement specifies otherwise.
Ending an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
ASTs, the most common tenancy agreements, come with rules that landlords must follow carefully to regain possession of their property at the term's end.
During the Fixed Term
ASTs usually have an initial fixed period, during which landlords cannot ask tenants to leave unless there's a breach in the tenancy agreement. Common valid reasons include rent arrears or antisocial behaviour. In such cases, a Section 8 notice citing the reason with a notice period of two weeks to two months should be served.
During a Periodic Tenancy
ASTs become periodic when the fixed term ends. Ending this periodic tenancy involves serving a Section 21 notice, providing at least two months' notice. If your AST started as a periodic tenancy, you can give notice after at least four months. Section 8 notices can still be used to claim possession of the property as a result of unpaid rent, through the courts.
Ending Other Types of Tenancy
Tenancy Agreement Assured Tenancies
A Section 8 notice is necessary for ending these long-term tenancies, presenting valid reasons covered by the Housing Act 1988 in court.
Excluded Tenancies or Licenses
These grant tenants fewer rights, and you can give 'reasonable notice' to quit, usually aligning with the rental payment period. It doesn't necessarily need to be issued in writing.
Non-Excluded Tenancy or License
These agreements can be terminated at any time with a written 'notice to quit' under the terms of the contract.
Can Landlords Use Break Clauses to End a Tenancy?
Most tenancy agreements include break clauses for early termination. Landlords must provide written notice following the contract's specified notice period, including the break clause. If the tenant doesn't comply, seeking an order of possession is the next step.
Dealing with Tenant Refusals to Leave
While most tenants comply after receiving a Section 21 notice, some won't. Initiating the eviction process through the courts is essential, but remember, never take matters into your own hands. Illegal or unlawful evictions, such as changing locks or removing belongings, can have severe consequences.
Applying for Possession Orders and Warrants
Landlords can apply for possession orders and, if necessary, warrants through the court system. If successful, this legal process results in tenants' eviction from the property.
In conclusion, the average length of tenancies in London is two years, with most ending when the tenant chooses to leave. However, following the correct procedure is crucial when landlords need to regain possession. If you're a landlord, consult the experienced team at Circa London for guidance on navigating these processes smoothly.
*NB This blog is for guidance purposes only