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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 15 years experience.
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The Housing Act provides that the only way to lawfully end a residential tenancy agreement other than by mutual agreement is by way of a s21 notice and if necessary a court order. Therefore in order to exercise a break clause, notice must still be served in the form of a s21 notice. Authority exists that there is no need to also serve a separate break notice - the s21 notice is sufficient to both exercise the break option and comply with the Housing Act. If the break notice provisions provide for a shorter notice period than in the Housing Act (2 months minimum) then the Housing Act trumps the break provisions in the tenancy. If the break notice requires a longer period, then this will apply over and above the minimum 2 month notice in statute.
Usually as above the statutory period required is 2 months but due to the pandemic the government has passed in the CoronVirus Act 2020 an amendment to the Housing Act which requires a minimum period of 6 months notice for notices served between end August and end March 2021. Accordingly if you are considering serving notice now, unfortunatly a minimum period of 6 months notice is required.
If the tenant is in arrears with rent, you could consider using a s8 notice though this is typically only worthwhile if the tenant is 8 weeks or more in arrears. Finally it is open to you to reach agreement with the tenant for them to move out earlier than the above timeframes. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me
A pleasure. I hope you are able to recover possession of your property in the near future.