Fixed term lease but landlord required to give one month’s notice to quit

林玉芬 v 姜滿盛 ([2012] HKEC 236) concerned an intended fixed-term lease for a term of three months expiring on 28 February 2011. The lease required the landlord to give one month’s notice to quit. The Lands Tribunal held that, on its true construction, this meant that the landlord would not be entitled to recover possession even after the expiry of the fixed term unless notice was duly served. L purported to serve a notice to quit by registered post on 9 March 2011. This attempt failed and the letter containing the notice was returned to the sender. The tenant paid rent for March and April. An application to court to recover possession was served on the tenant on 11 April 2011. The Lands Tribunal held that the application to court was premature since the landlord had no right to possession on 11 April; the landlord had not yet served the necessary notice to quit. It could have been argued that in fact no lease was created since there is a clear doubt as to certainty of term (no certainty as to when the landlord would serve the notice). This would probably have made no practical difference since the court could have given effect to the arrangement as a contractual licence (at least this is the current English view).

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