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Notice to quit
A 'notice to quit' is a written document which notifies the tenant that the landlord wishes to end the tenancy. It is more properly known as a 'notice requiring possession'.
The notice allows the landlord to start possession proceedings against a tenant if, for example, the tenancy agreement period is coming to an end or the tenant has not paid their rent. The tenant is still legally responsible to pay the rent until they are lawfully evicted. The notice does not mandate that the tenant vacate the property when the notice expires.
Tenancy contract expires
Most tenancies are in writing and are for a fixed period of time; for example, six months or a year. However, the tenant is not required to move out of the accommodation when the contract expires. They are legally entitled to remain in occupation until they have received a valid notice and court order.
Most tenancy agreements have a forfeiture/re-entry clause. This states that a landlord has the right to re-enter the property if the rent has fallen 14 days into arrears. However, while some landlords may try to enforce this clause, it can be legally enforced only through the county courts.
If a landlord is threatening to enforce this clause without a court order, a tenant should contact the council's tenancy relations service for further advice (details below).
No written agreement
Tenancies can be created verbally so even if a tenant does not have a written tenancy agreement they may still have tenancy rights.
A tenant is legally responsible to pay the rent while living at a property. However, rent arrears do not give the landlord the right to change the locks or exclude the tenant from the property.
If tenants do not pay the rent, the landlord has to take possession proceedings against them.
Landlord has sold the property
If the landlord sells the property with the tenants still living there, this does not end the tenants' rights — the new owner simply becomes the tenants' new landlord.
The tenants do not have to vacate the property as they are still entitled to a valid notice and a court order.
The landlord has obtained a possession order
If the landlord has obtained a possession order, the tenant has the right to remain in the property until a bailiff's warrant is issued. Only a bailiff acting on the court's authority can remove a tenant from the property.
The tenant has changed the front door lock
When a tenant has exclusive use of a property or a room in a property — he or she does not share it with anyone else — they are entitled to change the locks and exclude any person from entering.
A landlord must not enter a tenant's accommodation without their prior consent or permission.
Tenant gives notice to leave then changes their mind
A tenant has the right to take back a notice to leave regardless of whether it is a written or verbal notice. However, this will not be the case if a valid notice to quit has been issued.
For more information see the 'Thinking about renting your home?' download below.
The government has also produced a gaining possession factsheet to help landlords decide which route to follow when they need to take back their property, how much notice they must give the tenant, and guidance on the procedures which can be used to help speed the process.
Shelter - the housing and homelessness charity website also contains lots of information for tenants and landlords.
Tenancy relations service
Bernard Weatherill House
8 Mint Walk
Croydon, CR0 1EA
Direct line telephone with 24-hour answerphone