• In Hammersmith and Fulham LBC v Monk [1992] 1 AC 478 the House of Lords held that in joint tenancies, only one tenant needs to give a notice to quit in order to give rise to a successful cessation of tenancy.

Facts of the case:

  • Monk (M) and Powell (P) were in a relationship and held a joint tenancy over a property, where they lived together.
  • Their relationship broke down, and P sought to end the joint tenancy, so that she can begin a new one.
  • P therefore gave the council a notice to quit, enabling the council to initiate possession proceedings on the property where M and P lived.
  • Shortly thereafter, P attempted to withdraw her notice to quit, though the council proceeded to possess the property anyway, ordering M to leave the property.

Issues in Hammersmith and Fulham LBC v Monk [1992]

  • The issue in this case was whether a notice to quit served by one party could serve as a legitimate cessation of a joint tenancy, notwithstanding the absence of consent from the other joint tenant.

The House of Lords held:

  • A notice to quit served by one of the joint tenants, without the consent of the other, could indeed serve as an effective cessation of tenancy. Permission from both tenants is not necessary.
  • One basis for this decision was that in contract law, the absence of one party’s consent can suffice so as to render the contract as ineffective. This applies to tenancies too: the desire for the cessation of the tenancy by one joint tenant suffices for the ending of the joint tenancy in its entirety.
  • ‘a contractual periodic tenancy held by two or more joint tenants continued only so long as they all agreed in its continuation; and that, accordingly, in the absence of any term in the tenancy agreement to the contrary, a periodic tenancy was determinable by a notice to quit given by one joint tenant without the concurrence of the other joint tenants and the tenancy of the defendant’s flat had been lawfully determined’ [478]

Lord Bridge:

  • [483] “Thus the application of ordinary contractual principles leads me to expect that a periodic tenancy granted to two or more joint tenants must be terminable at common law by an appropriate notice to quit given by any one of them whether or not the others are prepared to concur.”
  • “For all these reasons I agree with the Court of Appeal that, unless the terms of the tenancy agreement otherwise provide, notice to quit given by one joint tenant without the concurrence of any other joint tenant is effective to determine a periodic tenancy.”