Friday, 20 July 2018

“DO I HAVE TO PAY RENT AFTER BEING ISSUED A QUIT NOTICE?”

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Tenancy relationships are created almost every day; landlords have properties they want to let out and tenants need properties to live in or use for any other lawful purpose. When entering into a tenancy relationship, both parties are usually excited. The landlord is happy because he would make some money and the tenant is happy because he has found a property he likes.

However, a lot of times, this happiness does not last long because of various reasons. Sometimes the landlord may choose to increase the rent for no apparent reason except greed and sometimes the tenant may be unable to continue paying the rent. At other times, the landlord may want his property back for personal reasons and the tenant may not be ready to vacate the property. As a result of these and countless other possible reasons, the landlord may choose to evict the tenant.

A landlord, being the owner of the property, has the right to get his property back. A tenant on the other hand, is a person who pays rent and stays in the property of the landlord for a particular period of time which both the landlord and the tenant agree to. There are different reasons why a landlord may choose to evict his tenant but the process of evicting the tenant is the same and must be done according to the law.

The relationship between a landlord and tenant is strictly controlled by law and any landlord who wishes to eject a tenant from his property must obey these laws completely. For a landlord to evict his tenant, the first step is to give the tenant a notice to quit as required by the law.

A notice to quit is the most important notice in the whole process of removing or evicting a tenant. It is given to a tenant either as a reminder that his rent will soon expire or to give the tenant sufficient time to leave the property, thus ending the tenancy. The length of the notice to quit will depend on the type of tenancy and should be given to the tenant before the tenancy expires. It must be in writing, state the full details of the tenant and the type of tenancy. These are very important because if there is any mistake on the notice to quit, it will not be lawful.

A notice to quit must contain the following:

The name of the landlord or his agent.

The name of the tenant.

The type of the tenancy, whether weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly.

The full description of the property.

The date the tenant is expected to leave the property.

It must state that the person is staying in the property as a tenant of the landlord.

Once the notice to quit expires, the tenant is no longer seen as a tenant of the landlord. Even though he may still stay in the property, he is no longer a lawful tenant.  However, the landlord cannot physically force him out of the property because that would be against the law. The landlord would have to go through the legal process of evicting the tenant.

The notice to quit is necessary so as to give the tenant enough notice and time to leave the property. During this period however, the landlord can still collect any arrears of rent which the tenant may owe him. But if the landlord collects fresh rent for a new year, the tenancy will be renewed and the tenancy relationship will continue between them.

This means that if the landlord collects the rent for another year from the tenant after giving the tenant a notice to quit, another tenancy will begin and the landlord will no longer be able to rely on that notice to quit. The landlord however can still collect the rent which the tenant owes him, whether or not the tenant has been given a notice to quit. It will not affect the notice to quit and the tenant will still be expected to leave the property on or before the notice to quit expires.

This can be clearly explained in a case where John (a landlord) gave Collins (his tenant) a notice to quit because the tenancy would soon expire and because Collins owed rent. Collins, who was still interested in the property, paid John part of the rent he owed even though he had already been given a notice to quit. Even though John had collected the part payment of the rent Collins owed, this act did not affect the notice to quit as Collins was still expected to leave the property once the notice to quit expired.

This is because the money John collected from Collins was the rent which Collins owed and which John was entitled to. John as the landlord is still allowed to collect the rent which Collins owed him. It would have been different if Collins did not owe any rent and simply paid John the rent for another year.

Once a notice to quit expires, there is no longer a landlord and tenancy relationship. By law, even though he is no longer regarded as a tenant to the landlord, the tenant is still expected to pay the rent he owes to the landlord whether he has been given a notice to quit or not. The law is interested in justice and will not allow a tenant to stay in a property for free.

However, if after giving a notice to quit, the landlord is still interested in continuing the tenancy, the two parties may agree and the landlord may collect fresh rent from the tenant. The notice to quit will no longer be valid and a new tenancy relationship will begin.

This is a very important factor which both landlords and tenants need to know and be cautious of. Any landlord who gives a tenant a notice to quit but still collects fresh rent for another year will automatically be renewing the tenancy. This will give the tenant the right to continue to stay in the premises till the new tenancy expires. A landlord may however collect arrears of rent from his tenant without renewing the tenancy.

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