A recent Court of Appeal decision sheds light on issues relating to Notices to Quit by tenants. In Bradford Community Housing Ltd v Hussain & Kauser the Court of Appeal ruled on the validity of a Notice to Quit which contains a saving provision and on whether the acceptance of rent or holding back on enforcement can invalidate a Notice to Quit.
Mr Hussain and Ms Kauser held an assured tenancy from Bradford Community Housing Ltd and after allegations of domestic violence their relationship collapsed and Ms Kauser (at the urging of Bradford) served a notice to quit on Bradford. As the tenancy was periodic by this stage the notice was valid to terminate the tenancy without the involvement of Mr Hussain following the well-known decision in Hammersmith & Fulham LBC v Monk. On the back of this notice possession proceedings were taken.
Before the Court of Appeal two arguments were made. The first was that the date on the notice was wrong and that the standard saving provision made the notice ambiguous as the saving provision and the given date ultimately referred to different dates. The second argument was based around correspondence between Bradford and Ms Kauser whereby Bradford had suggested suggested that they would not enforce on the notice to quit immediately and would continue to accept rent monies on an ad hoc basis. It was argued that this arrangement had the effect of renewing the tenancy and thereby made the notice to quit ineffective without the consent of Mr Hussain.
The Court of Appeal dismissed both arguments out of hand.
The Court was in no doubt that the use of the saving provision did not create and doubt in the mind of a reasonable recipient of the notice. This is an interesting point as the same question has been raised (although not at such a level) in relation to section 21(4)(a) notices and the possibility of ambiguity if they contain both a date and a saving provision. It would seem that this argument is now dead.
The Court was also not prepared to accept that a statement by Bradford that they might not immediately enforce the notice to quit and would in the meantime accept rent in any way acted to create a new tenancy. The Court made reference to the case of Clarke v Grant and made clear that mere acceptance of rent after the expiry of a notice could only create a new tenancy if this was the settled intention of the parties.
While this is a small case it provides clarity over one or two points of interest.