Assured shorthold tenancy agreements are the most common type of tenancy in the UK. They provide a legally binding contract between a tenant and a landlord, outlining the terms of the tenancy and the responsibilities of both parties. However, sometimes circumstances change and either the tenant or landlord may need to end the tenancy early. In this article, we’ll explore what a notice to quit is, when it can be used, and how to properly serve one.

What is a notice to quit?

A notice to quit is a legal document that formally ends a tenancy. It provides notice to the tenant that they are required to vacate the property by a certain date or face legal action to recover possession of the property. In an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, a notice to quit can only be served after the fixed term of the tenancy has expired or during a break clause if included in the agreement.

When can a notice to quit be used?

There are several reasons why a landlord or tenant may use a notice to quit. These include:

End of the tenancy: When the fixed term of the tenancy has expired, or the tenancy is periodic, the landlord or tenant can serve notice to quit to end the tenancy.

Breach of contract: Either the landlord or tenant can serve notice to quit if the other party has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, such as not paying rent or causing damage to the property.

Illegal activities: If the tenant is involved in illegal activities on the property, such as drug dealing or other criminal activities, the landlord can serve notice to quit to regain possession of the property.

How to serve a notice to quit

In order to serve a notice to quit, it’s important to follow the correct procedures to ensure that it is legally valid. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Use the correct form: Depending on the reason for the notice to quit, you’ll need to use the correct form. For example, if the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, you’ll need to use form Section 8. If the tenancy has ended, you’ll need to use form Section 21.

2. Provide the correct notice period: The notice period required will vary depending on the reason for the notice to quit and the type of tenancy. For example, if you’re using form Section 8, you’ll need to provide at least two weeks’ notice for rent arrears, and at least two months’ notice for other breaches of contract.

3. Serve the notice correctly: In order for the notice to quit to be legally valid, it must be served correctly. This can be done in person or by post, and you should keep a record of when and how it was served.

4. Seek legal advice if necessary: If you’re unsure about the correct procedures for serving a notice to quit, or if you’re facing legal action as a result of serving one, it’s important to seek legal advice from a qualified professional.

In summary, a notice to quit is a legal document that formally ends a tenancy. It can be used for a variety of reasons, including the end of a fixed-term tenancy or a breach of contract. If you’re serving a notice to quit, it’s important to follow the correct procedures to ensure that it is legally valid. If you’re unsure about the process, seek legal advice to avoid potential legal disputes.

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Doutor em Filosofia e Mestre em Ciências Políticas pela Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), com Pós-Doutorado pela Columbia University, em NY. É Professor em tempo integral no INSPER, em São Paulo, e Curador do Projeto Fronteiras do Pensamento. fschuler@uol.com.br