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How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant?

by | Dec 1, 2022

Home $ Property Management for landlords $ The Importance of Tenant Management $ How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant?

Introduction

Even in the process of evicting tenants, there are still rules you have to follow in order to do things correctly as a landlord. Likewise, if you are a tenant, you should be able to put your foot down and demand that your rights are respected. Especially when it comes to such an important part of our lives like housing.

Depending on the type of tenancy agreement and the type of eviction that has occurred, there are a range of notice periods that could be given. You should be able to figure out the answer for you as you read through this article so you can get better at managing your tenants as a landlord.

Working out what kind of tenancy you have

In order to work out the type of tenancy you have to give, the easiest way would be to check your tenancy agreement as a landlord. This should tell you clearly what kind of agreement it is whether that be an assured shorthold tenancy, an assured tenancy, a regulated tenancy a subtenant or another type of agreement such as a lodging agreement.

A landlord deciding on what tenancy agreement they have

Giving the correct notice for an AST

Before you give the correct notice for an AST, it is important to identify if you have an AST or not. An AST stands for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and if this tenancy is an agreement between a tenant and a private landlord, this is the most common type of agreement to go with.

Other ways you can work out if you have an AST is if your tenancy started after January 1989, if the landlord isn’t living in the property and if the tenant is using the property as their main place of residence. If all of these things are true then it is an assured tenancy. Even if the property is a HMO and there are other tenants living in the property too.

How much notice do you have to give in an AST under section 8?

For assured tenancies, there has to be between two weeks and two months notice given. This depends on the grounds of repossession. Because section 8 is a law that states there has to be a breach in the tenancy agreement from the tenant, the landlord has to say why as they evict them.

For tenants that are students, or have rent arrears of more than two months, just two weeks can be given to the tenant and there is no court order that must happen, the landlord has to give notice and this is enough to evict a tenant without a court order.

During the pandemic, some of these laws changed to excuse tenants from rent arrears. However, all laws have now gone back to normal and there are no exceptions to section 8 in legislation.

On the other hand, for grounds that aren’t mandatory, notice periods are usually two months and they have to be processed through court first as the landlord has to provide a court order. This means there can be additional delays.

This includes things like anti-social behaviour where neighbours don’t know what to do about intimidating neighbours or causing too much noise for the neighbours in a property too.

How much notice do you have to give in an AST under section 21?

Section 21 is used when a landlord wants a tenant out of a property for no reason so this can only be applied where there is a break clause in a tenancy agreement or the fixed term of a tenancy agreement comes to an end. Given these circumstances are in place, the tenant has to give a landlord at least two months.

Giving the correct notice for a regulated tenancy

If a tenancy was signed before the 1st of January then you are likely in a regulated tenancy that has been in place for decades. This is because newer tenancies such as the assured shorthold tenancy were introduced as standard tenancies in the housing act of 1988. 

However, there were no rules for the abolition of regulated tenancies as the government expected them to slowly end. As a result, regulated tenancies are a lot rarer but some still need to know how to evict tenants and what the notice periods are for them.

A landlord writing a notice to a tenant

How much notice do you have in a regulated tenancy?

The laws of section 21 and section 8 do not apply to regulated tenancies. Instead, there are a few reasons for a landlord to evict a tenant with a regulated tenancy in which case they have to give the tenant 4 weeks notice. This can be for:

  • Rent arrears
  • Not obeying the terms in the tenancy agreement (for example subletting without permission) o
  • Damaging the property. 

In cases where the regulated tenancy is with a public landlord such as someone in social housing, there is a chance that a tenant is able to keep their home with the condition that they obey new rules laid out by the court.

Examples of this include a tenant paying back rent arrears using a payment plan or fixing the property over time with the help of professionals.

Giving the correct notice for a subtenancy

Subtenants may face different rules depending on if the landlord knows they are a subtenant or not. The landlord may write the subtenant within the For an example of what a subtenancy agreement may look like click here

How much notice do you have to give to a subtenant

Usually, when a subtenant signs a tenancy agreement with the head tenant, then there is a notice period of one monthly rental payment the head tenant has to give. They also don’t have to give a reason to evict a subtenant either.

However, if there are any issues with the tenancy agreement of the head tenant with the landlord, then the subtenants are subject to these rules as well. This means the subtenant has to follow the eviction period of an assured shorthold tenancy of two weeks to two months if it is section 8 or two months if it is section 21.

For example, if the head tenant faces rent arrears, even though the subtenant is paying the rent to the head tenant, the subtenant may have to leave the property with the head tenant. However, if the landlord knows about the subtenant then they may just make this tenant the head tenant anyway and sign a new tenancy agreement anyway.

What should you do if a subtenant refuses to leave within the notice period?

If a subtenant is in an assured tenancy agreement with the head tenant, then the subtenant has to follow the same rules as the head tenant. If they have a notice to leave then the subtenant automatically should leave too. This can mean as serious as getting bailiffs involved with removing the subtenants if they refuse to leave.

It is important to note though that the head or mesne tenant of a property doesn’t have the right to evict a subtenant. They have to go through this process with the landlord if the landlord is involved and if the landlord isn’t involved, the head tenant has to communicate this verbally and process and disputes through the court if there are any issues.

A tenant refusing to move out after receiving notice

How can a landlord evict a subtenant legally?

If a landlord knows about the subtenant in the property and they need them to leave. Then a section 21 or a section 8 can be served to the main tenant and then a separate “subtenant notice to leave” document can be given to any subtenants in the property.

This is especially useful if the head tenant isn’t currently living in the property; the head tenant lives elsewhere and the subtenant is the only one physically in the premises. Issuing both the head and subtenant notices will ensure all parties are on board with the landlord’s decision.

Giving the correct notice for an excluded tenancy

If a tenant has an excluded tenancy, they would be a tenant who lives with their landlord in the same house. This means the tenant is able to have exclusive rights to a room in a property.

How much notice do you have to give in an excluded tenancy

Under the legislation, you have to give a minimum of 28 days for excluded tenants. This is because they have a licence to occupy. 

Giving the correct notice in a lodging agreement

A lodging agreement may not be a tenancy agreement but there is a chance there could be a lodging agreement in place that either the landlord or tenant has mistaken for a tenancy. If there is, there are still notice periods that have to be followed as lodgers have basic protection. For more on what basic protection is click here.

You will likely have a lodging agreement if:

  • the lodger lived in the same house as the landlord
  • There has been no written document in the agreement
  • The lodger pays rent in cash
  • The lodger doesn’t have exclusive rights to the room they live in and the landlord can enter at any time
  • The landlord is renting their room under the rent a room scheme making them eligible for £7,500 of tax free rent collection per year

What is the notice period for evicting a lodger

A lodger has to be given one rental period to move out. For example, if they pay rent every month, the lodger would have one month to move out. The landlord also doesn’t have to give a reason for eviction and it can be at any time during a tenancy.

What if you don’t give enough notice to a lodger

Despite these more relaxed rules around serving a notice period, lodgers still have basic protection rights so can bring a landlord to court if they feel they have been mistreated and a suitable notice period wasn’t given.

This can result in the landlord facing fines relative to the amount of rent they were charging for the lodger to live in their property.

What should you do if a tenant refuses to leave in a tenancy agreement?

If a tenant refuses to leave, in any case, it is not recommended to enter the property yourself in order to evict a tenant. Even if you know you have the right to.

The reality is, there are professionals trained to do this sort of thing and if you do it yourself you could be putting yourself at unnecessary risk as a landlord. Especially if you know the tenants are confrontational. 

Physical fights, assault and potentially walking in on an active crime scene are all reasons for leaving this kind of to bailiffs who know what they’re doing. Especially if you know the tenants in the property could be refusing to leave for a reason like using the property for illegal purposes.

In order to start repossessing a property with bailiffs first you must understand that the process may take an additional 4 – 6 months after the tenant doesn’t willingly move out following a section 21 notice. This can be an accelerated possession order or a notice that was generated by the court.

Someone who has committed a crime so refused to leave a property after eviction notice

What is an accelerated possession order?

Accelerated possession orders must be applied when a section 21 but it is a quicker way of evicting a tenant too. It is essentially where a landlord has the correct set of circumstances to evict a tenant without there being a court order.

The landlord can use it if:

  • There is a statutory periodic tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy
  • There is a written tenancy agreement between the two parties
  • A landlord issues the notice in paper form to the tenant’s address
  • A landlord has not asked the tenant to leave previously

In closing

As a landlord determines how much notice they should give for a tenancy agreement, the first thing they should do is determine what type of tenancy agreement it is.

If they evict a tenant using the wrong rules for the wrong type of tenancy or this could result in legal ramifications and fines and that could impact s property business quite severely.

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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.