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Shorthold Tenancies, Notices to Quit.
Many landlords are not entirely sure of the procedures required when giving a notice to terminate to a shorthold tenant. Although the law has been simplified, it has been simplified only for those people whose paper work follows the rules exactly, and it remains vital to prepare documents precisely, and in a timely fashion.
New tenancies are now, by default, assured shorthold tenancies. Shorthold tenancies grant a fixed term to the tenant, usually six months, but the tenancy continues after that six months unless and until it is brought to an end.
Unless otherwise stated, the tenant can bring the tenancy to an end within the period though the landlord may not end the tenancy within that initial period unless there is good cause.
The tenant has to give one month's notice of his intention to quit, but the landlord must give to the tenant two months' notice to end the tenancy. Complex rules apply to the calculation of these periods, but it is sensible to act on the basis that any notice must expire on a rent day. In other words if the rent is payable on the first day of each month, the notice to terminate the tenancy must be served on the tenant before the next rent day and would then give the tenant a further full two months. In practice the tenant gets more than two months notice.
A notice which is invalid or defective in any way, should be assumed to be entirely ineffective. There is no point in issuing a notice which is nearly right.
Another point of dispute has been the content of the notice. After the simplification of the rules a few years ago, many landlords came to assume that the information which had previously been required to be served upon the tenant was no longer required. This information details the tenants rights and advises the tenant on where they might go for assistance and advice. A recent case re-enforces what we have always believed, which is that this detailed information is still required, and a notice to quit which does not contain the appropriate information in substantially the appropriate form is simply ineffective, and the tenancy continues.
Since, if there is any doubt, the tenancy will continue until a court decides otherwise, it can be expensive to get a notice to quit wrong, and we always advise that clients use a notice prepared by us for this purpose.
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