Notice to quit tenancy for landlords and tenants

Typically, notices to quit are straightforward but there are instances where they can go wrong. This is where you need to stay on top of the law and understand how to follow the correct procedure whether you are a tenant or a landlord.

Reading this article in its entirety is ideal for either party as you will be able to see what each person has to do legally which can make you more aware of how to help each other out. Ultimately, a landlord and tenant’s relationship would be better if there was understanding either way.

If you need a template that is convenient to download and you can fill in the right information yourself, find out notice to quit tenancy template here.

Ending a tenancy from a tenant’s perspective

With renting in the UK becoming more common, especially for those who are of a younger demographic, most people will have to end a tenancy agreement with a notice to quit at some point. If you are doing it for the first time, you may have to learn the process and potentially make a few mistakes along the way.

The main thing you have to be aware of is knowing your rights so a landlord doesn’t hold you against your will in a property by saying you have to pay rent when you don’t. In order to work this out it first starts with knowing what type of tenancy you have.

Table of minimum notice periods for tenancies

In this table, it is useful to note that if you live with your landlord in a periodic tenancy, this is no longer an assured tenancy and the exception to the rule when it comes to the type of tenancy. Also forfeiture of leases have to be followed for commercial tenants instead.

Type of tenancy Minimum notice you need to give
Fixed term tenancy (If you’ve got a break clause) Follow the notice period specified in your break clause.
Fixed term tenancy (If you don’t have a break clause)

You can’t give notice to leave before the end of your fixed term. You don’t usually need to give notice to leave on the last day of your fixed term.

If you stay after the fixed term, you’ll have a periodic tenancy. Check what notice you need to give when you have a periodic tenancy.

Periodic tenancy (not living with landlord)

Week-to-week tenancy: 4 weeks’ notice.

Month-to-month tenancy: 1 month’s notice. If your rental period is longer than a month, give the same amount of notice as your rental period. For example, if you pay rent every 3 months, you’ll need to give your landlord 3 months’ notice.

Periodic tenancy (living with landlord) No specific set amount of notice required (unless your tenancy agreement says otherwise). You can discuss and mutually agree on the leaving date with your landlord.

Making sure you know what type of tenancy you have

If your tenancy agreement was signed after January 1989, the tenancy agreement is likely to be an assured tenancy. Assured tenancies can either be periodic or fixed-term tenancies. There are also excluded tenancies and lodging agreements that aren’t assured tenancies which may confuse you. If your agreement isn’t an assured tenancy. You will have to follow different rules around notices to quit.

For more on how to find what the notice to quit is in a lodger agreement read out article on it, and for more on what an excluded tenancy is, click here. These agreements do not carry the same rights as a tenancy agreement would.

Notice to quit a fixed-term tenancy

Fixed-term tenancies are those that are signed for a set period of time in which a tenant is obliged to pay rent. If they don’t pay rent they could face a fine to end the tenancy early with a notice to quit.

This depends on your landlord though so it is important to negotiate as you can, a landlord may give you a payment plan where you can pay any rent you owe over an extended period instead of handing in a notice to quit due to rent arrears.

This means you cannot hand in a notice to quit during a fixed term of a tenancy. Instead, you have to end the tenancy during a break clause of the tenancy agreement.

Notice to quit a periodic tenancy

If you are in a periodic tenancy, it is a lot easier to end an agreement with a notice to quit because the break clause is essentially always in effect. Usually, a periodic tenancy will involve a tenant paying rent every month until an undisclosed date.

In this situation, the notice to quit can be given with just a month’s notice because the tenant must give notice equivalent to the period of time in which they pay rent.

What is the notice you need to give?

There are a few options on how long you have to give in a notice to quit based on the tenancy agreement in place. Seeing all of these options in table format helps you process the information better and find the notice period that you are eligible for as a tenant.

A landlord writing a notice to quit

How to serve notice to quit a joint tenancy

Joint tenancies follow the same notice to quit rules as a single tenancy. It is just that there are two people who are signed on the agreement. This means if there is a decision made by one person and they decide to end their half of the agreement, the entire agreement ends. If the other tenant doesn’t want this to occur they have no say as the decision is already made.

In cases of joint tenancies, it may be easier for one tenant to be sublet to another tenant and become the main decision maker as to when to serve a notice to quit. However, most joint tenancies work out as they tend to be with people who are either close friends or family members.

There is a guide here on the Newham Council website that guides you through all the details to do with joint tenancies.

Ending a tenancy from a landlord’s perspective

The rules around notices to quit in a tenancy agreement aren’t just for the benefit of one party. Things like fixed terms and break clauses are there if a landlord wants to make changes to a tenancy too.

How to give valid notice to quit tenancy

When trying to bring a tenancy agreement to an end with a notice to quit, a landlord must make sure they end the agreement in the right way. This can include making sure the landlord is issuing either a section 8 or a section 21 in the correct manner.

It is common for a landlord to issue a notice to quit a tenancy using section 8 if the tenant has breached an agreement. These reasons may include:

  • Rent arrears
  • Property damage
  • Anti-social behaviour 

Otherwise, if a landlord is in the right phase of a tenancy agreement, they can issue a section 21 which is able to be shown to a tenant even if they haven’t done anything wrong. This is why this section of the law is known as a “no fault” notice to quit. Common reasons for issuing this type of notice to quit (despite there being no legal reason provided) include:

  • They want to bring in a new tenant to the property
  • The landlord wants to conduct renovations
  • They want to use the property as their main home
      A notice to quit tenancy being researched

      How to give a section 21 notice

      As a section 21 notice to quit is served, it must be as a tenant’s rental agreement is coming to the end of a fixed term which would mean there is a break clause in place in a tenancy.

      This break clause is there for both the landlord and the tenant. If the clause is there for the tenant then they can end their tenancy agreement with a notice to quit with two months’ notice and for landlord’s the same two months be given if they want to evict a tenant for any reason.

      In order to give this notice to quit tenancy, a landlord must issue the tenant with a form 6A which can be found on the government’s website here

      This form is a notice to quit that contains information like the name of the tenant and the date of the issue of the notice and when the expected date is for the tenant to leave (At least two months after the notice is used). Finally, the landlord’s details and the address of the property where the tenant lives must also be included.

      A landlord doesn’t have to use the exact same template of the notice to quit from the government’s website, all the right information just has to be included.

      After the two months have passed, the landlord will have 4 – 6 months where if the tenant still hasn’t moved out they can take legal action to evict the tenant if they’re being non-compliant which may involve bailiffs to physically remove those on the agreement.

      How to give a section 8 notice

      Whenever a section 8 is served, it has to be given under at least one of 17 grounds. Depending on the grounds of the notice to quit a tenancy, it can be anywhere between two weeks and two months for a tenant to move out.

      To serve a notice to quit as a section 8 with mandatory grounds (which means the court will accept the notice without the need for it to be evaluated), you will have to choose a ground that is numbered 1 – 8. However, if the ground is 9 – 17, this is a discretionary ground in which a landlord needs to apply for a court order first.

      If you are evicting a tenant in Wales, the process and notice period you have to give for the notice to quit tenancy is slightly different.

      Applying to court to repossess a property

      Sometimes, a tenant may disobey a notice to quit. In this situation, it is in a landlord’s best interest to use the full extent of the law to get the tenant out of a property. Especially if they aren’t paying rent anymore. In addition to this, it may be the case that the tenant is dangerous so it is not recommended to physically remove the tenant yourself.

      Send a tenant a further notice

      If a tenant fails to leave a property after a notice to quit a tenancy given by the landlord in the form of section 8 or a section 21, the landlord should start the process of initiating a possession order which can be done on the government website here.

      It will cost a landlord quite a bit of money at £355 to open this order. However, some types of landlord insurance will cover this cost. With this form, if the landlord initially evicted the tenant for rent arrears, information about the past two years of rental payments must be provided.

      Following the finalisation of this process online, a copy of a date for a court hearing will be given to both the landlord and tenant if the tenant chooses to contest the repossession. If they do not, then the landlord will be given a date for the property to be repossessed straight away.

      A landlord giving a date for a repossession order

      Get prepared for the court hearing

      If a tenant contests the application, then a court hearing will be given. This means you’ll have to get all the information you have about the tenant as evidence and get prepared to talk about it in court. At this stage, you may want to hire a lawyer or get any kind of legal advice too.

      The outcome of the hearing

      It is important to understand the court may not come to a decision straight away. There may be a further hearing moved to another date if they think they need more evidence. However, if the landlord wins, a tenant will have two to four weeks to leave the property.

      If there are further disputes where tenants refuse to leave, a landlord will need a “warrant for possession” which can be purchased for £130. A landlord will be contacted by a bailiff who will assess the risk of the tenant involved and send the appropriate enforcement to physically remove the tenant from their home.

      In conclusion

      Providing the right notice to quit a tenancy as you can tell is sometimes complicated and you have to make sure you’re following the right rules for the tenancy agreement you have signed first and foremost. 

      Once you are clear on this, whether you are a landlord or tenant, provide the right notice to quit a tenancy and exercise your rights under the law to your full ability.

      Grab the latest property news, tailored for landlords

      Viral, succinct and crucial information, straight to your inbox, every week

      andreas gerazis

      Andreas Gerazis

      Experienced landlord

      Andreas is a certified landlord with extensive knowledge about the UK property market as he has been actively investing for half a decade. Founder of the first three-in-one property management software, Lofti Proptech, Andreas has a brilliant understanding of the details surrounding what it takes to grow and run a thriving property portfolio.