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Receiving Notice to Vacate - What to Do

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

If you receive a notice to vacate from your landlord, do not panic.

There are many legal requirements your landlord must fulfill that have been put in place to protect you. You still have rights as a tenant!

Here’s some advice on receiving notice to vacate- what to do.

What is a notice to vacate?

A notice to vacate is when a landlord asks you to leave their property, or informs you that your tenancy will not be continuing.

Your landlord must follow certain procedures, or they run the risk of being guilty of harassment or illegally evicting you.

The exact procedure that the landlord must follow, in order to serve you notice, is dictated by the type of tenancy agreement that you have in place.

Vacate notice for shorthold tenancies

If your tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy (as most are these days), you will have one of two types of tenancy agreement:

  1. A fixed term tenancy agreement
  2. A periodic tenancy agreement

Both of these agreements require your landlord to follow the same set of procedures, should they wish to take the property back:

  • They must issue you with a section 21 notice, if your fixed term or periodic tenancy has come to an end:
    • This notice gives you two months to quit the property, before the landlord can start the proceedings to resume possession of the property
    • This notice can be served without any prior warning
    • It must be issued to you in writing
    • In order to be valid, your landlord must have used a tenancy deposit scheme
    • If you rent on a fixed term, this notice must respect the terms of the fixed term agreement and end no sooner than the fixed term stipulates
    • If you rent on a periodic term, this notice must respect the period with which your tenancy runs through
    • Any spelling mistakes will render this notice invalid
    • If you started your tenancy after October 2015, the landlord cannot issue you a section 21 before 4 months of the tenancy has passed
    • Section 21 does not allow the landlord to forcefully evict you. It’s simply a stepping stone to get the ball rolling to have you quit their property
  • If you have broken the terms of your tenancy agreement, your landlord must issue you with a section 8 notice
  • They must apply to the courts for a possession order, if you don’t leave by the specified date
  • They must apply for a warrant for possession if you still don’t leave, meaning the bailiffs will forcefully evict you

Revenge notice

If you have complained about the landlord not fulfilling their legal responsibilities to maintain and repair the property, and they subsequently issue you with a section 21, they could be breaking the law.

These are called revenge evictions and they are a serious abuse of a landlord’s power. If your landlord tries to pull this, you can have them prosecuted for harassment or illegally evicting you.

After you receive notice to vacate

If the notice to quit the property is legal, and above board, you have between two weeks and two months to vacate the property, depending on the reason for the landlord serving you notice. If they are accusing you of serious antisocial behaviour, you may have to vacate immediately.

If you are at risk of being made homeless, there are people you can talk to, such as:

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