Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator for iConn Property Management writes:

Tenants and Landlords often get confused by the notice clause in their A.S.T (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) Tenancy Agreements when it comes to needing to give notice.

Commonly the confusion comes when deciding how much notice should be given and how to give notice.

Here are the basics:

If your tenancy is in a fixed term contract:

This means that your contract is still within its initial fixed period, dated on the contract ie. 1st January 2011 – 31st December 2012. Whilst within a fixed term you are unable to give notice. Instead you will need to wait until the contract expires. The Agent or Landlord must serve a Section 21 noticeto end the contract, otherwise the contract will roll over and then both parties will be subject to the Statutory Periodic notice terms (See below). The notice must be served two months before the end of the tenancyand in most cases they are accompanied will an offer to renew the contract if possession is not required from the landlord.

If it is the tenants intention to leave they need to confirm this to the agent or landlord when they receive the section 21 notice.

This also applies to tenancy agreements which have been renewed using a fixed term addendum as a new fixed contract has been agreed to be extended by certain dates and so the landlord and tenant are liable for the term again, until it expires.

If your tenancy is Statutory Periodic:

This is when your fixed term has expired and you are now on a rolling contract.

In this case you are able to provide notice and the standard notice lengths are one month notice from the tenant to vacate the property or two months notice from the landlord for possession of the property. The notice from the tenant must be provided in writing to either the agent or landlord. The notice from the landlord must also be in writing and should be accompanied with a section 21(4)(a) notice. The notice from both parties must be in line with the rental date. So, for example, if you pay your rent on the 5th of the month your notice will be in force from the 5th of the month, even if you provide a written letter before this date it will not come into effect until you pay your last months rent.

Full and further information regarding to notice periods under the Housing Act 1988 are available from this website:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/contents