Reasonable notice to quit and certainty of term

In Joseph v Nettleton Road Housing Co-operative Ltd ([2010] EWCA Civ 228, CA (Eng)) L granted T a monthly periodic tenancy of a flat. The lease contained a term that allowed L to terminate the lease on 4 weeks’ written notice. Such a notice would only be served if T had been given written notice of a breach of covenant and had failed to remedy the breach within the time specified. L served such a preliminary notice but T took no steps to remedy the breach (keeping a dog in the flat). L therefore served a notice to quit. In his defence, T argued that there were implied terms that the procedure could only be invoked in the case of serious breaches and that the preliminary notice would give a reasonable time to remedy the breach. The English Court of Appeal decided that even if T’s proposed terms were implied, L had complied with the contractual procedure concerning notice to quit. T was ordered to give up possession.

The English Court of Appeal noted that there was a clash between the lease terms and the certainty of term requirement (since there is uncertainty as to when the right to serve a notice to quit might arise and as to the length of any reasonable notice that might have to be given before notice to quit could be served). It preferred not to resolve this question and to deal with the matter purely as a matter of interpretation of the contractual rights and duties of L and T. It was therefore taking the view (implicitly) that even if this agreement were not a lease effect could be given to it as a contract. It should be read in the light of the Supreme Court decision in Mexfield Housing Co-operative Ltd v Berrisford.


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