Taylor V Spencer (COA) December 2013:

  • This case simplified decades of confusion and misery for disappointed landlords attempting to file and enforce a notice to quit following the expiry of a fixed term tenancy  (viz. AST) agreement resulting in the default periodical tenancy.
  • Ironically it is the same actual tenancy (same tenants, same house, same keys).  but statute in the Superstrike v Rodriges case now makes it plain that in fact two tenancies exist with one immediately following the other.  Unless a deposit is protected any s. 21 notice to quite is unenforceable.
  • During the fixed term a section 21.1. b notice to quit must be issued two months prior to tenancy determination or the tenants can legally remain under a periodic tenancy – the default position following the end of the fixed term tenancy. This has never been contentious.
  • The Periodic Notice To Quit is almost identical to a fixed term but S.4.a but is very contentious.  As well as the two months notice the landlord must also add the number of days to the rent period to the notice.  So if the tenancy starts on a Monday it will end on a Saturday if it is a weekly tenancy as in Taylor v Spencer.  Getting these days right can be confusing especially as the wording is in legalese.
  • The Court of Appeal COA was able to dismiss any such irregularity as there were other factors not previously interpreted relevant obviating the need for the additional days to be added..
  • The result?  Voila! Essentially either S.21 notice will suffice following the end of a fixed term (not applicable for non fixed terms – rare) and only two months notice is required, without the additional number of days added to the end of the tenancy period obviating care to avoid any dubious challenge to postpone the end of a periodic tenancy.
  • Student landlords are unlikely to be affected as most tenants depart by the last day of the fixed term.
    • This said some landlords erroneously relying on this trend and neglecting to issue the NTQ could experience a tenant refusing to leave and the landlord being unable to prevent it for at least a further two months following service of the two months notice and probably at least another 2 months before eviction can be granted by courts and carried out by bailiffs.
    • Some students might request to remain for a further two weeks to attend a graduation ceremony.  This is the sort of request that presents huge reticence by landlords – on the one hand student landlords want to help – on the other does this constitute a new periodic tenancy requiring a new NTQ?  I think it does!  What happens when the tenant refuses to leave – legal case to secure eviction and house not available for scheduled new tenant arrivals!
    • My advice is to move the tenant requesting such extension of residence to another property (portfolio landlords) and create a separate holiday let.  Less adrenalin involved as limited rights to remain beyond the holiday term.

What are your thoughts?

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