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Landlord and Tenant - Recent Case Law Regarding Section 21 Notices

View profile for Sarah Canning
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Landlord and tenant - section 21 notices
In the past, Landlords have previously been faced with confusion as to whether to serve a notice pursuant to Section 21 (1) or Section 21 (4) of the Housing Act 1988, when giving notice to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy where the fixed term has expired and the tenant remains in occupation on a Statutory Periodic Tenancy.

The main difference between the two notices is that a notice served under Section 21 (1) does not have to expire on a specific date whereas a notice served under Section 21 (4) must expire on the last day of the tenancy and must specify that the landlord requires possession the day after the specified date.

Unfortunately, problems have arisen with the validity of notices served under Section 21 (4) where incorrect dates have been detailed on the notice. Consequently the Courts have refused possession in these cases on the basis of the tenant not being served with a valid notice.

The Court of Appeal has clarified the position in Spencer – v – Taylor [2013] EWCA Civ 1600 and it is now easier for landlords to serve the correct notice to end such tenancies.

In Spencer – v – Taylor [2013] the Court of Appeal held that when a fixed term of a tenancy expires and a tenant remains in occupation under a Statutory Periodic Tenancy, it is no longer necessary to comply with the criteria set out in Section 21 (4) Housing Act 1988. Provided it can be shown that Section 21 (1) has been fulfilled, the service of a notice pursuant to Section 21 (1) is sufficient.

The service of notices under Section 21 (4) will only be required where there was no fixed term agreed and the tenancy was a Statutory Periodic Tenancy from inception.

As well as clarifying the procedure in serving a valid notice, the additional benefit to landlords is that they may provide their tenant with two months’ notice at any time within the tenancy period. This is instead of giving two months’ notice from the beginning of the next tenancy period. As a result, landlords may recover possession of their property earlier.

If you are a landlord and you are still concerned about how to issue a valid notice or you have had some issues with issuing a notice, please feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to help guide you. Are you a tenant that has been served a notice that you are concerned about? Drop me a question in the comments section below – or feel free to contact me via email.

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