Posts Tagged ‘notice to quit’

Periodic tenancies and freedom of contract

September 22, 2014

Re Threlfall ((1880) 16 Ch D 274, CA (Eng)) concerned a lease at a yearly rent of GBP 800 payable in equal quarterly installments.  The landlord had the right to enter at any time after three months from the date of the lease without giving notice. The lease was contained in a mortgage deed (the mortgagee granted the lease to the mortgagor and the re-entry provision reflected this context). The question was whether this was a periodic tenancy or a tenancy at will. The English Court of Appeal held that there was a periodic tenancy despite the re-entry provisions.

Cotton LJ said:

‘But I know of no law or principle to prevent two persons agreeing that a yearly tenancy may be determined on whatever notice they like. There is freedom of contract in this respect. ‘ (at 281 – 2).

Michael Lower

Periodic tenancy: service of notice to quit on the tenant’s solicitor

September 7, 2014

In Hau Gay Yau v Wong Muk Din ([2014] HKEC 1456, CA) a landlord served notice to quit to determine a periodic tenancy on the solicitor acting for the tenant. The Court of Appeal, overturning the first instance decision, held that the notice had been validly served. Sections 62(2) – (4) of the Conveyancing and Property Ordinance do not exclude other modes of service than those that they specify ([22]). It was clear that the solicitors on whom the notice had been served had been instructed by the tenant in relation to this matter ([23]). The tenant’s actions showed that he regarded his solicitors as having had authority to receive the notice ([23]).

Michael Lower

Notice to quit: validity of notice giving a specified date and then using a fall-back formula which might give a different date

May 30, 2013

In Leung Chung Ting (No 2) v Tin Yat Co ([1963] HKLR 304) T held under a monthly periodic tenancy. L gave T notice ‘to quit and deliver up possession by 19 November, 1961, or on the last day of your tenancy which shall expire next after one calendar month from the date of service of the said notice to quit.’ T argued that the notice have two date and was therefore invalid on account of its ambiguity. This argument failed.

Several authorities, commentaries and published precedents used this formula (the formula was applied in a slightly garbled way in this case and should have referred to ‘the month of your tenancy’). In this case, the general wording referred to the same date as that specified but even if the effect of the formula were to identify two different dates the notice would be valid. If the first date was valid, the rest of the formula could be treated as surplusage ((310, Hogan C.J.).

Huggins J. said:

‘It is, therefore, clearly permissible to add such general words even though the result be (as it will be if the date expressed is wrong) to name two different dates for the giving up of possession. One knows that in practice practitioners almost invariably do include such general words and, speaking for myself, I would think that at the present day they would be lacking in prudence if they did not. The basis upon which the alternative date is allowed to be stated is no doubt to mitigate the strictness of the old law. No prejudice results to the tenant, because the form of the general words makes it abundantly clear to him that the landlord is merely guarding himself against the consequence of a mistake as to the date upon which the periodic tenancy commenced and that the date expressed is to be the operative date only if the tenancy may lawfully be determined on, that day.’ (315)

Michael Lower

‘Waiver’ of notice to quit? New tenancy and estoppel

May 29, 2013

In Kam Wing Property Investments Ltd v Koncord Ltd ([2005] HKEC 213, CA) T had the benefit of a periodic tenancy. L served notice to quit. T refused to leave and so L applied to the court for possession using the summary judgment procedure. T argued that L had ‘waived’ the notice to quit. This failed.

First, Deputy Judge A To pointed out that a notice to quit, once served cannot be withdrawn. The parties can agree to a new lease but there was no evidence of such an agreement here:

‘Technically, a notice to quit, once given, cannot be waived unilaterally by the party giving it. Even according to the evidence of the Defendant, the Plaintiff never expressly waived the notice to quit in the sense that it withdrew the notice. Instead, the documentary evidence consistently shows that the Plaintiff insisted on the notice. To the extent that “waiver” is used as a convenient misnomer, it requires the consensual agreement of the parties that the tenant remains in possession. As with any agreement in respect of disposition of interest in land, four certainties apply, namely certainty of parties, property, term and price. Even on the evidence of the Defendant there was no agreement as to the term of the new tenancy and the rental. The so called defence of “waiver” does not even get off the ground.’ ([13])

The possibility that the landlord might be estopped from relying on the notice was considered but there was no credible evidence of a representation that the notice would not be relied upon. L sought summary judgment but before a court would be persuaded that a full trial was necessary, T would need to ‘show that he has a fair or reasonable probability of showing a real or bona fide defence, i.e. that his evidence is reasonably capable of belief.’ ([16])

T had not succeeded in this.

Michael Lower