Possession of Non-Housing Act 1988 Tenancies

22 January 2024

For non-Housing Act 1988 Tenancies, Common Law Possession Rules apply. There are two ways of regaining possession where tenancies are governed by contract, depending on whether the tenancy is for a fixed period or if it is periodic.

Fixed Period Tenancies

At common law, a fixed period tenancy ends automatically at the end of the fixed term, even if both the landlord and tenant do nothing. The legal phrase for this is that it ends through effluxion of time.

Periodic Tenancies

A periodic tenancy will continue to renew itself from period to period unless it is ended by a notice to quit. At common law, there is no set form of a notice to quit and it does not have to be in writing. However, residential constraints are tied in with the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, which does require a minimum four week notice in writing.

Notice Periods

There are common law time periods for service of the notice to quit for periodic tenancies related to the period of the lease, as follows:

  • For weekly tenancies, the notice period is one week
  • For monthly tenancies, the notice period is one month
  • For quarterly tenancies, the notice period is quarterly, but
  • For yearly or longer tenancies, the notice period is six months.

The dates must be in line with the period of the term to end on the last day of the period. If the notice period in the lease is longer than these common law periods, the notice period in the lease must be used.

Changes Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977

This Act overrides the common law rules and means any notice to quit must be in writing, give at least four weeks’ notice and contain prescribed information. Four weeks is the minimum that must be used; if the notice period in the lease is more than four weeks, or the common law rules require a longer period, the longer notice period in the lease or at common law must be used.

Prescribed Information

This is contained in the Notice to Quit (Prescribed Information) Regulations 1988 and requires that the notice to quit must explain that:

  • A landlord must get a possession order from a court before evicting an occupier
  • Application for the possession order cannot be made until the notice period in the notice to quit expires
  • The receiver of the notice must be told they can get advice from a solicitor, citizens’ advice bureau, housing aid centre etc.

If a landlord (or the landlord’s agent) tries to gain possession without a court order, a criminal offence under Section 1 of the Protection from Eviction act 1977 will have been committed.

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