Updated Notices under Section 21(1)(b) and Section 21(4)(a) Housing Act 1988

January 2014

The Court of Appeal’s decision in the case of Spencer v Taylor late last year has made the process of terminating a periodic assured shorthold tenancy (AST) easier for Landlords.

Prior to the Spencer v Taylor decision, a different procedure had to be followed according to whether the Landlord was serving a termination notice during the fixed term of the tenancy or during the periodic tenancy that arises after the end of the fixed term. In the former case a notice under Section 21(1)(b) of the Housing Act 1988 was required; in the latter case a notice under Section 21(4)(a) had to be served.

A Section 21(4)(a) notice can be tricky to prepare as the Landlord must specify a termination date that is at least 2 months after the notice is received by the Tenant and the termination date must fall on the last day of a “period of the tenancy”. Landlords often make mistakes in calculating the termination date, causing their notice to be invalid.

In contrast, a Section 21(1)(b) notice is simpler to draft as the termination date simply needs to be at least 2 months after the notice is received by the Tenant (with the earliest possible termination date being the end of the fixed term of the tenancy).

The Court of Appeal has now confirmed that a Section 21(1)(b) notice may be served during the periodic tenancy that arises after the expiry of a fixed term AST. (The option of serving a section 21(4)(a) notice remains but there seems no reason to use it.) A Section 21(4)(a) notice is therefore only needed where the AST has been periodic from the start. There are very few such tenancies.

We have updated our Letter Terminating a Fixed Term Tenancy (Section 21(1)(b) Notice) and Letter Terminating a Periodic Tenancy (Section 21(4)(a) Notice) accordingly.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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