Here is a question to the blog clinic from Katherine (not her real name), who is a landlord.
My potential tenant is pushing back on a 2 month’s notice period for a fixed-term contract. They’ve suggested it’s unlawful (it isn’t).
I’m a private landlord, and my previous tenants were happy with this mutual notice period. However, these guys are quite aggrieved.
In my opinion, it’s equitable for both parties to benefit from 2 months’ notice during a fixed term. Any compelling reasons to help my tenants see I’m not being unreasonable and that this is common?
I think the tenant is getting confused between the notice period in a fixed-term contract and notice periods in a periodic tenancy.
As far as the fixed term contract is concerned, this is what is known as a ‘break clause’ and is a clause allowing the landlord and the tenants to end the fixed term early.
You don’t HAVE to have a break clause – many landlords don’t, but if you do, they have to be the same for both parties or more favourable to the tenant.
So your proposed break clause notice period sounds fine to me.
However, when the tenancy is a periodic tenancy, the tenants’ position ‘at common law’ is that they can end the periodic tenancy on giving notice of one ‘period’ – which for most tenancies will be a month as most tenancies have a monthly rent.
However, if landlords want tenants to leave, they will normally serve a notice under section 21, where the notice period will normally be two months.
Some landlords think this is unfair and try to put clauses in the tenancy agreement saying that the tenants must give two months’ notice. THAT clause will be invalid under the unfair terms rules.
However, your proposal for a break clause during a fixed term is fine.
Maybe if you explain this to the tenants, they will understand. You could also say to them that if they don’t accept this notice period, the tenancy will have no break clause at all!
If you are a landlord – what notice period do you have in YOUR tenancy agreement?