Notice Periods in Contractual and Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy

Notice Periods in Contractual and Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy

In the current coronavirus environment where people are not supposed to be doing viewings, I suppose landlords would like it if, when their current tenants gave notice, the notice period was as long as possible, (as they won’t be re-letting any time soon and be facing a void).

This brings me to the issue of what period of notice a tenant should give, once a fixed term in an assured shorthold tenancy has ended (and even when there was no fixed term in the first place).

This has actually been much discussed on various websites, with much different legal opinion and a lot of misunderstanding.

But for once I think we can credit Shelter with having the most succinct summary on their site, where it says that if the original tenancy states that at end of a fixed term the tenancy would roll on to become a “contractual periodic tenancy”, then the notice period the tenants must give would be whatever was stated in the original tenancy agreement.

However, if the tenancy agreement was silent on the matter, it would be effectively become a “periodic tenancy” and the notice required from the tenant would be whatever the “period” was, usually monthly, of course – so a month of notice would be all that a tenant needs to give.

Here is a link to their site where it comments on this matter: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/private_renting/ending_a_periodic_tenancy

So, in summary, if at the end of the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy, unless stated otherwise in the tenancy agreement, a tenancy would become a statutory periodic tenancy, (and a notice period clause would not survive), and so it would be a common law tenants’ notice which is one period of the tenancy, or one month, in most cases.

So, what do I do with my tenancies?

Notice Periods in Assured Shorthold Tenancy

Well, for years, we have always stated in our assured shorthold tenancies, that after the fixed term ends, unless ended by us or the tenant, the tenancy simply continues as a contractual periodic tenancy, with 42 days’ notice required to end it from the tenant. (And by the way, if it is the landlord wishing to end a tenancy, after the fixed term has ended, they would normally need to give 2 months’ notice).

We have been letting for over 30 years and let to may tenants in that time and have never had a problem with this notice period from a tenant.

Usually, in practice, we find that we can usually find another tenant who can start a new tenancy much earlier than in 42 days time, and so, if it suits the current tenant who is leaving, we can end the current tenancy earlier than in 42 days, and make a pro rata rent payment back to the leaving tenant.

But, we like the 42 days to be stated in the tenancy agreement, because sometimes stuff could happen where one would like it to be longer than a month. We might be away on holiday and unable to perform viewings, for example.

These extra 12 days above a normal month, are a nice little extra comfort to have. In these coronavirus times, when viewings are banned, anything more than a month would be a bonus, I think (unless you and any potential viewers who are not terrified of the virus are prepared to break the quarantine, of course). And if you do, keep that quiet from neighbours, if you suspect the neighbours are narks!

If you read the Shelter advice, it would seem that one could even ask for two months (maybe longer still than that), though this would seem a little unfair to me – and may even run into being an Unfair Contract Term.

As far as I know, the question of really long notice periods in contractual periodic tenancies after a fixed term has ended, has never been tested in court.

The situation in Scotland may be different. This blog post and the comments here applies to England and Wales only.

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