How much notice does a landlord need to give to a tenant?
If you’re a landlord and want your property back off the current tenants, you’ll have to give notice; this is a legal requirement. But just how much notice does a landlord need to give? In this article, we explore why giving notice is important, how much notice you should give your tenants, the main instance you aren’t required to give full notice, and what happens if you neglect to give your tenants the full notice period.
Why is giving notice to a tenant important?
A notice period is in place for the benefit of the tenant; it essentially gives them time to find alternative accommodation before losing the legal right to live in their current home.
As a landlord, you are responsible for providing the roof over your tenant’s head. As such, if you want to regain the property, for whatever reason (it doesn’t matter what, it’s your prerogative), it’s your duty to ensure your tenants are given sufficient time to find another home. In the meantime, it’s important to maintain the trust of your tenants, through being a fair landlord and making reasonable requests.
How much notice does a landlord need to give?
While there are various types of tenancy agreement, many of them operate under the same assumption that a landlord is required to give at least six months’ notice to the existing tenants. This includes both assured shorthold tenancies and fixed-term tenancies that roll into periodic agreements. We’ve explained how to give notice to a tenant, no matter the agreement in place.
The notice period on an assured shorthold tenancy
The majority of tenancy agreements in the UK are called assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs), which is the default legal tenancy agreement, and lasts a minimum of six months. If you want to evict a tenant who is residing under an AST, you are legally required to express your wishes in writing, clearly stating that you wish to have the property back. However, you aren’t required to provide any reasoning for your decision. This is called a notice to quit.
Within your notice to quit, you must explicitly state the date you wish your tenants to vacate the property. Currently, the legal minimum notice period stands at six months; this was extended in August 2020, because of coronavirus restrictions, so is subject to changing back to the pre-pandemic notice period of two months.
What is a fixed-term tenancy?
A fixed-term tenancy is one where neither the tenant nor landlord can make any changes to the agreement within a pre-specified period. This timeframe could be six months, a year, or even longer, and neither party can alter the terms of the agreement. However, any period beyond the fixed-term agreement immediately turns the agreement into a periodic tenancy; that is an agreement that works on a rolling basis, with no fixed tenancy end date. For instance, if the original agreement dictated the tenancy was to last a minimum of six months, any period after this would fall under the ‘periodic tenancy’ category.
Despite the legal tenancy agreement coming to an end, however, a landlord is still required to give the existing tenants six months’ notice for eviction, with the proper paperwork outlining a desire to regain the property. In some circumstances, though, you may be able to agree to a mutually consented dissolvement, which means both tenant and landlord agree to end the tenancy early.
When is giving full notice to a tenant not required?
While, under usual circumstances, you are required to give a notice period of six months, there are instances where you can demand a tenant leave the property within a shorter period of time; the main instance being anti-social behaviour.
If your tenant has been involved in serious anti-social behaviour (i.e., they have had a police caution, or legal action brought against them), you, as the landlord, are able to give them a reduced-period eviction notice. This shorter term equates to four weeks if a periodic tenancy is in place, or a month if a fixed tenancy is in place.
What happens if you don’t give enough notice to a tenant?
If you give your tenant a written eviction note that doesn’t provide them with the legally mandated notice period, they are well within their rights to refuse your wishes. This might seem unfair, given that they’re staying in your property, but the law is the law. To ensure your notice to quit is respected. you should always give the legal minimum requirement.
If your tenant refuses to vacate the property, in instances of an insufficient notice period, you are allowed to issue them with another notice to quit with a revised date; alternatively, you can attempt to negotiate a sooner leaving period, that satisfies both parties.
Giving notice to a tenant and they don’t leave
If you’ve given the legally required notice period, and your tenant still refuses to vacate your property, you are well within your rights to involve the law. This means taking your notice to quit to the courts, and asking a judge to act in your favour. Hopefully, assuming that you’ll have given your tenants sufficient notice, the judge will rule sympathetically.
Importantly, while you may feel well within your rights, as the owner of the property, you aren’t legally allowed to change the locks or remove a current resident’s possessions before a court declares them as illegally residing in your home.
Being a landlord can come with various financial benefits, of course, but there are also various processes to follow when it comes to evicting tenants and regaining control of your property. Hopefully, you feel comfortable giving your current tenants notice, after reading our guide.