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My wife and I have had a second home as an investment property for years. We have been fortunate to have excellent tenants and our current tenants have lived there for about four years.

As we get older we think maintaining the property is too much for us and we want to sell it this year and retire to Spain. As the tenants have been in the property for several years, I understand that we have to give them a long notice period. How long would that last?

Although we have never had any issues with our tenants before, what if they refuse to vacate the property or are unable to find a new property to rent in the current climate?

Dear reader,

Under section 34 of the 2004 Act, a lease may be terminated by a landlord on the ground that the landlord intends, within nine months of the termination of the lease under that section, to enter into an agreement enforceable for the transfer to another, for full consideration, of his entire interest in the dwelling or the property containing the dwelling.

The notice period required to end a tenancy depends on the duration of the tenant’s residence.

It is essential that you ensure that you give tenants a valid termination notice and allow them sufficient time, in accordance with their legal rights, to vacate the property.

Minimum notice periods are set by law and must be respected. Failure to issue a termination notice with the correct notice period will invalidate the termination notice.

Your attorney should check the original lease and calculate from the start date of the tenancy to ensure the correct notice period is served. By law, the notice period runs from the day immediately following the date of service of the notice.

It is very important that you consult a lawyer before serving a notice of termination to ensure that it is drafted correctly. An invalid notice may delay the process of obtaining vacant possession.

In your current situation, for a tenant who has been there for at least three years, but less than seven years, you would be required to give 180 days notice. It is important to plan ahead if you are considering selling a property to account for the notice period as this can be quite a long period depending on how long the tenants live in the property.

In the event that you serve a valid termination notice and your tenants refuse to comply, there are a number of options available to you if self-resolution fails. One is arbitration.

Arbitration is a formal inquiry into the matter whereby an appointed arbitrator makes a decision, based on the evidence presented by both parties, on the subject of the dispute.

The adjudicator’s decision is binding on both parties and a determination order will be issued. Another option would be to go through the mediation process. The purpose of mediation is for both parties to report their understanding of the issue so that they can resolve the issue together and work toward a mutually satisfactory agreement.

The RTB takes failure to comply with Determination Orders very seriously. Recently, the relevant court has changed from circuit court to district court in order to deal with issues that arise more quickly and reduce the cost of enforcing an order.