We have recently had a fairly sensible case on section 21 notices, where the Court of Appeal has squashed an attempt by a tenant to wriggle out of getting evicted by claiming that the notice was defective.
This was a situation where the fixed term of the tenancy had expired and the landlord was having to rely on section 21(4) of the Housing Act 1988. The notice used the words “Possession is required of the premises which you hold as tenant(s) at the end of the period of your tenancy which will end after expiry of two months from the service upon you of this notice.”. Section 21(4) contains the following wording:
“that the landlord or, in the case of joint landlords, at least one of them has given to the tenant a notice stating that, after a date specified in the notice, being the last day of a period of the tenancy and not earlier than two months after the date the notice was given, possession of the dwelling-house is required by virtue of this section”.
At first instance an order for possession was made, but the tenant then sought legal advice and decided to run the argument that the wording in the notice did not comply with the notice in the statute, claiming that the possession order should therefore be set aside. The argument went that the phrase “at the end of the tenancy” meant “on the last day” so that the notice did not satisfy section 21.
Happily however (for the landlord) the Court of Appeal did not agree and found that the notice did comply sufficiently. The court held that the judge had been entitled to conclude that the notice complied with section 21(4)(a) since it was clear that, applying a normal use of language, the phrase “at the end of a tenancy” in a notice under section 21 meant “after the end of the tenancy”. It did not mean at the split second after the tenancy came to an end, but any time thereafter.
This follows other Court of Appeal decisions in the past on notices, where so long as the sense of the notice is clear, the court have not allowed the notice to be defeated by minor technical quibbles. For those who are interested in such things, the name of the case is Nottingham Hill Housing Trust v. Roomus. I have not been able to find a report of this online so am unable to give a link.