A Landmark appeal court ruling could save landlords thousands of pounds in eviction delays with section 21 notices.
Section 21 Notices can be served in effectively eight weeks.
Specialist landlord and agent lawyers Property Reclaim, a division of Moore Blatch solicitors, estimates that a recent ruling at the Court of Appeal*, could save landlords thousands of pounds, as the Court ruled that just two calendar months’ notice is required to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy after the end of a fixed term.
For the last 25 years it was universally believed that, to end a tenancy once a fixed term had expired, landlords had to use s.21(4)(a) of the Housing Act 1988. That section requires a minimum of two months’ notice ending on the last day of a period of the agreement – meaning that, if the rent is payable on the first of each month, a landlord wanting to give notice on the 2nd has to give two full months’ notice plus however many days remain in the month (29 for January), i.e. the earliest the notice could require possession is after 31 March.
This decision means that belief is wrong – landlords only have to give two months’ meaning the landlord could serve notice on 2 January requiring possession on 2 March, 29 days earlier than under s.21(4)(a).
It is very easy to get the date wrong under s.21(4)(a) because there is only one possible correct date, so countless cases have been struck out for technical failure to comply with the section even though the tenant has received much more than two months’ notice.
The Court also considered whether a notice with an incorrect expiry date and a saving provision (which allowed the tenant to work out the correct date) could be valid. The court found in favour of the landlord on this point.
Paul Walshe, partner, Moore Blatch and head of Property Reclaim, said; “This is great news for agents and landlords as it’s now much easier to serve a s.21 notice. Almost all Assured Shorthold Tenancies start with a fixed term, so landlords can now rely on the far simpler Section 21(1)(b). This requires ‘not less than two months’ notice in writing’, which can start and end at a convenient time, rather than just at the end of a period of the tenancy. In addition, landlords don’t have to worry about calculating exactly when the last day of a period of a tenancy is, where they may run the risk of their case being struck out if they get it wrong.”
*Case: Spencer v Taylor  EWCA Civ 1600
Moore Blatch is one of the leading law firms in the south with one of the largest dedicated commercial and corporate departments in the region. It also provides a full legal service for the private client, including divorce and family matters, conveyancing, wills and probate, and trust and tax planning. They have offices in Southampton, Whiteley, Lymington, Richmond and, in 2013, opened their new City of London office.
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