Hope on the horizon to simplify assured shorthold tenancy termination notices

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 provides that a landlord can regain possession of the property without the need to prove any fault on the part of the tenant. In order to commence possession proceedings, a landlord must comply with the requirements of section 21 by giving the tenant at least two months’ notice of their intention to seek possession. If the tenant is still within the fixed term of the assured shorthold tenancy (AST), this is the only requirement and a notice may be served under section 21(1).

However, where the fixed term has expired, it was generally held to be the case among practitioners that the additional requirements of section 21(4)(a) must be complied with. Consequently, the notice must specify that possession is required ‘after’ a particular date and such date must be the last day of a period of the tenancy. The courts have consistently taken a strict approach in the interpretation of the act, requiring landlords to comply with the stringent requirements in section 21(4)(a).

The recent Court of Appeal case of Spencer v Taylor held that the simpler requirements of section 21(1) apply to all ASTs that were initially granted for a fixed term. The departure from the courts’ earlier strict interpretation of section 21 is likely to be welcomed by landlords for clarifying and simplifying the law in this area…

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