Landlords guide to tenants notice periods: How much notice do you need to give?
Tenancy agreements ensure that landlords and tenants are protected under legally binding contracts outlining the rights and obligations of all parties involved, providing a harmonious coexistence.
But, tenancies don’t always go as planned and understanding the eviction procedures and tenants notice periods can help with the complex legal landscape.
In this article we will delve into UK tenancy laws, tenant notice periods, how to give your tenant notice and shed light on the processes that govern tenant eviction and protection.
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What are the different tenant notice periods?
If you are the landlord or a property and wish for the tenants to leave, you will need to follow tenancy laws in order to remove them legally. Done wrong, and you could leave yourself open to financial penalties and time in court.
How much notice does a landlord have to give tenants?
The amount of notice you will need to provide a tenant, will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have in place; Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) or Excluded tenancies.
What is the tenant notice period for an AST?
As the landlord of an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, you will need to provide the tenant with at least 2 months notice and ensure that the date for them to move out is at least 6 months from when the original tenancy began.
What is the tenant notice period for an excluded tenancy?
As the landlord of an excluded tenancy agreement or licence, you will need to provide the tenant with ‘reasonable notice to quit’ which is usually the length of the rental payment period.
Can a landlord kick a tenant out for no reason?
As a landlord you cannot kick out a tenant without valid reason, you will have to provide a valid reason as to why you are removing them from the property and follow the valid tenant notice periods.
Eviction procedures under the Housing Act 1988 & 96 can be complex and depend on the type of tenancy in place.
Under the most common form of tenancy agreement, an assured shorthold tenancy may be used via:
Section 21 Notice:
As the landlord, if you wish to evict the tenant at the end of the fixed term of an AST or during a periodic tenancy, then you will need to provide a Section 21 Notice, alongside at least 2 months’ notice to the tenant and specify the date you wish them to leave.
Section 8 Notice:
If the tenant is in rent arrears or has caused damage to the property, you can service a Section 8 Notice which must specify the grounds for eviction and will require two week’s notice for severe breaches.
If the tenant does not leave after receiving a valid Section 21 or Section 8 notice, the landlord must apply to the court for a possession order. The court will decide whether to grant possession based on the evidence provided.
If the tenant still refuses to leave after a possession order has been granted, the landlord can apply for a warrant of possession, which allows bailiffs to physically remove the tenant from the property.
Can landlords use break clauses to end a tenancy?
Landlords can use break clauses to end a tenancy as long as the break clause is clearly defined in the tenancy agreement and specifies the conditions under which it can be exercised — including tenant notice periods and requirements.
Landlords must follow the usual 2 month notice period, and ensure that the conditions to meet the break clause are fair — for example, meeting rent payments and not damaging the property.
If there are multiple tenants under the tenancy agreement, the break clause may apply to all tenants jointly or to individual tenants. Landlords must service the correct tenant notice periods to exercise the break clauses and it should be done in writing.
If the tenancy is protected by a deposit protection scheme, landlords should ensure that they follow the correct procedures for returning the deposit when using a break clause.
Some tenant agreements will also include break clauses that allow tenants to terminate their tenancy early.
How long does it take to evict a tenant in the UK?
The eviction process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, and is completely dependent on the caseload of local authorities and whether there are any other legal disputes that arise – the more complex the case, the longer it will take.
The first step in the eviction process is to serve an appropriate tenant notice period, which must be at least two months for Section 21 notice and two weeks for severe breaches on Section 8 notices.
If the tenant does not leave after the notice period expires the landlord can initiate court proceedings to obtain a possession order. The time it takes for a court hearing and judgement will vary depending on the location of the case, and will range from a few weeks to a few months.
If the court grants a possession order, it will specify a date by which the tenant must vacate the property. The tenant usually has around 14 days to leave voluntarily, if they do not, the landlord must request a warrant for possession.
Applying for a warrant of possession allows the landlord to involve bailiffs or enforcement officers to physically remove the tenant — which can take several weeks.
What happens if a tenant doesn’t move out at the end of a tenancy?
If a tenant doesn’t move out at the end of a tenancy, it can create a challenging situation for landlords, here are some steps you can take:
1. Clear communication
You will need to contact your tenant to remind them of the agreed-upon move-out date and request that they vacate the property as per the tenancy agreement.
2. Extension or renewal
As the landlord you may be able to make a mutual agreement with the tenant to extend or renew the tenancy, essentially creating a new agreement. This could be done to allow the tenant to find suitable accommodation.
3. Notice to quit
If the tenant still refuses to leave, as the landlord you may need to serve a notice to quit, which is a formal notice specifying a period within which the tenant must vacate the property. The tenant notice period can vary depending on the circumstances but this is usually at least four weeks.
4. Possession order
If the tenant does not vacate the property by the end of the tenant notice period, the landlord can start court proceedings to obtain a possession order. This involves submitting an application to the court and the tenant will have the opportunity to respond.
5. Court hearing
A court hearing will be scheduled to consider the landlord’s request for a possession order. The court will assess the case and make a judgement – if the judgement favours the landlord, a possession order will be granted.
If the tenant still does not leave after the possession order is granted, the landlord can request a warrant for possession This allows bailiffs or enforcement officers to physically remove the tenant from the property.
It is essential to follow the proper legal procedures at each stage of the eviction process. Attempting to physically remove a tenant without a court-issued possession order and a warrant for possession is illegal then you may face severe legal consequences.
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