The criteria that must be met in order to render a notice to quit effective are straightforward but stringent. Many District Judges are hesitant to throw people out of their homes, even when arrears have been accrued, and will often feel bound to deny the landlord an eviction if a notice is defective. It is essential that those seeking eviction orders protect the viability of proceedings, and control their costs, by complying with the requirements of S.5(1) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and the complimentary Notices to Quit etc. (Prescribed Information) Regulations 1988/2201. These set out the requirements for an effective notice to quit, namely that; (1) the notice should be in writing, (2) the notice should be given not less than 4 weeks before the date on which it is dues to take effect (and should therefore contain the date upon which it is due to take effect), and (3) the notice should contain the prescribed information in the regulations. That prescribed information reads as follows:
- If the tenant or licensee does not leave the dwelling, the landlord or licensor must get an order for possession from the court before the tenant or licensee can lawfully be evicted. The landlord or licensor cannot apply for such an order before the notice to quit or notice to determine has run out.
- A tenant or licensee who does not know if he has any right to remain in possession after a notice to quit or a notice to determine runs out can obtain advice from a solicitor. Help with all or part of the cost of legal advice and assistance may be available under the Legal Aid Scheme. He should also be able to obtain information from a Citizens’ Advice Bureau, a Housing Aid Centre or a rent officer.
During my recent court observations, the requirement to state the date upon which the notice will take effect is one of the most prevalent causes of submissions as to whether a notice is ineffective.
Being aware of the requirements when proof reading draft notices should help landlords mitigate the chances that the first hearing is unnecessarily adjourned.