Professional landlords are well aware of the complexities they can face when giving notice to tenants that they require possession of the let premises.
Because of the rather tortuous provisions of the Housing Act 1988 with regard to the giving of notice, numerous court rulings have been made that a landlord's notice to a tenant was invalid because an incorrect or indefinite termination date was specified in the notice.
Landlords will therefore welcome a recent decision of the Court of Appeal, which ruled that a tenancy which commenced as a fixed-term tenancy could properly be terminated by a notice given after the expiry of the fixed term.
The notice terminating the lease did not comply with the lease provisions. It was not issued at the right time and, as filled in, it was unclear which of two possible operative dates for being granted possession would apply.
It had previously been widely considered that the usual form of notice (under Section 21 of the Act) would be valid only if given during the period of the tenancy. The Court ruled, however, that where such a notice has been given after the expiry of the tenancy and the result is that the termination date is technically indeterminate because it can be either of two different dates (a side effect of the legislation if one is not very careful), then a 'reasonable person' would understand that a notice to vacate the premises had been given.
The decision will come as something of a relief to landlords, although it remains to be seen if the tenant will appeal to the Supreme Court.