Section 21 and Section 8 Notices to Quit

What is Notice to Quit

This is a document issued by a landlord or owner to a tenant, notifying the latter to leave the premises owned by the former; hence the terms ‘notice to quit.’ Notice of this nature gives a tenant a specific date to vacate and settle unpaid and overdue rentals or other concerns which violates the terms of the lease contract. The tenant is usually given a 30-day period to settle his accounts with the landlord or owner. 

What are the Contents of a Notice to Quit

A notice to quit contains details including specific names of persons ordered to vacate the premises, regardless of whether the agreement of their tenancy was written or oral, the total sum of unpaid rentals and other delinquency, the period covered by the accrued amount, and information as to whom the vacated property should be surrendered. Should the terms of the lease agreement be on a month-to-month basis, notice to quit may be issued anytime, regardless of default to pay rentals or violation of the tenancy agreement.

When and How Notice to Quit is Issued

Different states belonging to the United Kingdom have different laws on tenancy. But the generally accepted procedure for service of this notice is made at least three months before the specified date to vacate. The notice must be served in person to the tenant or posted in a conspicuous place of the tenant’s residence, such as the front door with a notice that a copy was sent to the tenant by registered mail. Upon service of the notice and failure of the tenant to vacate after the given period entitles the landlord to institute a lawsuit for unlawful detainer, also known as ‘eviction,’ against the tenant.

Sections 8 and 21 Notices

Section 8 Notice to Quit

Also known as ‘Section 8 possession notice,’ Section 8 notice to quit is a provision culled from Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This kind of notice to quit is served on the tenant by a landlord who seeks to regain possession of the property subject of the tenancy agreement while the fixed term of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is still in force. The Section 8 notice, however, is only applicable when the tenant committed breach of tenancy agreement, the most common of which is non-payment of rentals. This section also provides 17 grounds for a landlord to seek repossession of his property from a tenant before the expiration of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

Once the landlord complies with the service of this notice and upon failure or refusal of the tenant to leave the premises, the former may now apply for an order of possession from the court. Thereafter, the landlord may evict the tenant from the premises.

Section 21 Notice to Quit

Just like the Section 8 notice, the Section 21 notice to quit was culled from the Housing Act 1988. This differs from Section 8 in that this notice is given by a landlord who seeks repossession of the premises subject to the tenancy agreement after the expiration of the period for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. While a landlord has the right to regain possession of his property after the expiration of the agreement, he is nevertheless bound by law to observe the correct procedure in recovering the same.

Provisions of Housing Act 1988 require the landlord to serve a Section 21 notice to quit to his tenant. The Housing Act 1996 amended this procedure by requiring the landlord to serve a written notice. A notice to quit of this nature may be served during the Assured Shorthold Tenancy or a periodic tenancy. If it is issued during the AST, the landlord must show valid cause for the same and subject to the condition that the landlord first serves a Section 8 notice to quit to the tenant. Once the AST expires and the terms of tenancy are not renewed but the tenant is still letting the property, whether from week to week or month to month by mere tolerance of the landlord, a Section 21 notice may be issued by the latter. But this is subject to the condition that the notice must be served two months prior and the expiration date set for the notice must fall on the last day of a tenancy period.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy

This is the most common form of tenancy. The Assured Shorthold Tenancy is used in letting of residential properties. Another terms used as reference are ‘Shorthold Tenancy’ or AST. This form of is only applicable in England and Wales.

Agreements of this nature are normally fixed for a period of six weeks but the parties can stipulate for a longer period such as twelve months. During the agreed period, the tenant is allowed to possess the property.

The basic requirement for AST is for the landlord and tenant to agree on the period for letting and the amount of monthly rental. Parties are bound by this agreement and this protects the tenant from sudden rental increase while the AST is in force. The tenant in this situation may challenge the increase of rental and demand the landlord to respect the amount stipulated in the agreement.

The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1987

Generally, a landlord or his agent is authorized to serve a notice to quit. But certain sections of this Act allows allow tenants to issue a notice to quit instead. Any breach of the tenant’s rights under the tenancy agreement entitles the tenant to serve a notice to quit, either under Sections 8 or 21. The procedure for service of notice to quit is the same as that of a landlord’s. The tenant can serve the notice in person to the landlord in the latter’s last furnished address to the tenant, to the address listed in any written demand sent by the landlord to the tenant, or the address indicated in the notices sent by the landlord to tenant.