Here is a question to the Blog Clinic from Sheila who is a landlord
Hi, I served my tenant with a Sect 21 notice which was due to expire in December 2012. However, on the 1st of November 2012, I discovered that they had moved out without letting me know.
Because they did not inform me and I was travelling for the next 2 weeks, I could not take any steps to rent out my property as soon as possible and now will be without rent for at least one month.
Is the tenant not required to inform me when they are leaving my property under a Section 21 notice? I thought they needed to give me at least a month’s notice as soon as they had found alternative accomodation.
The whole section 21 notice / date of tenant departure area is a bit of a tricky one.
Section 21 notices do not actually end the tenancy agreement (in the way the old Notice to Quit do for unregulated tenancies). They just mean that if the landlord goes to court after the notice period has expired, the Judge has to make an order for possession.
Often they are served just as a precautionary measure by landlords and the tenants stay on for months or years afterwards.
However, even if the landlord does want the tenant to leave at the end of the notice period (and makes that clear to the tenant), frequently it is not possible for tenants to do this. Either because they cannot find alternative accommodation or because they want to be re-housed by the Local Authority – who will tell them to stay where they are until an order for possession is made.
Note that tenants are quite within their rights to refuse to move out and will only have to do this when you have obtained a possession order AND the Court Bailiff attends to physically evict them.
Strictly speaking tenants ought to give notice regarding the date they intend to vacate, but if the landlord actually wants them to leave, I always think, bearing in mind that the tenants are entitled to make a landlord pay to get a court order for eviction (which could take up to six months during which period tenants often stop paying rent), the landlord just ought to be grateful that they have gone.
You may be entitled to claim rent in lieu of notice, but it may be more trouble than it is worth to do this.