Legally every tenancy agreement must state how it can be ended from both the landlord and tenants point of view and how much notice either party is required to give, whether you have a fixed term in your tenancy agreement or not.
Most properties are rented on a fixed term basis and will have an end date or length of time stated when the tenancy will end like 6 months etc.
A tenant can terminate their tenancy agreement when:
- There is a break clause in their agreement
- The landlord consents to terminating the tenancy early
- Handing in your notice to your landlord
- The contract reaches its end date
The landlord can only give tenants notice after this has passed. Landlords don’t have the right to repossess their property over the course of the first 6 months of the tenancy.
Should you be renting under a licence agreement and you want to leave, you should inform the landlord well before the specified end date.
The tenant will be responsible for paying the rent until the end of the tenancy and if they don’t then the landlord is entitled to deduct missed rent from their security deposit and are even able to take tenants to court for not paying rent.
A formal written letter of notice must be given by the tenant should they wish to leave their tenancy early and it must include:
- The tenants’ name
- The tenant’s address
- The date the notice period ends, e.g. if it’s a month then a month from the date the letter is signed
- The forwarding details for the landlord to return the tenant’s deposit
Note: Don’t’ send the letter via email if it’s not mentioned that you can in the contract
Make sure your landlord sends you written confirmation of receiving the notice letter. The landlord must also agree to accept the tenant is surrendering the tenancy in order for them to leave.
Legally landlords can’t forcibly remove their tenants, however, once the notice period has expired and the tenant is still in residence at the property, the landlord will have to formally start the eviction process through the courts.
How to end a Fixed Term Tenancy?
If the fixed-term tenancy agreement has a break clause or the landlord agrees to the tenant leaving early then a tenant can leave a fixed-term tenancy early. In most cases, the fixed term contract will last 12 – 18 months for private tenancies and it will continue until it ends.
Once it comes to an end the contract will continue to be a fixed term contract until a new one is signed but it will be considered to be a periodic tenancy. A periodic or rolling tenancy is what a fixed-term or AST contract turns into once the time period has expired and the tenant is still living at the property.
How to end a Fixed Term tenancy before the fixed term expires?
This can be done if there is a break clause in the agreement and if the landlord agrees to let the tenant leave early.
First, the tenant needs to check that there is a break clause in their tenancy agreement, the tenant doesn’t require the landlord’s permission to use the break clause, but it will state when the break clause can be used, for instance, 6 months into the tenancy and how much notice they will be required to give and that the notice must be given in writing and email is to be avoided unless it’s expressly mentioned that it can be used in the contract.
Once the break clause has been triggered and the tenant’s notice has been given to the landlord, the landlord needs to agree to surrender the tenancy. It is always a good idea to confirm this in writing as it will help to prevent any confusion or errors during the leaving process. If there are disputes over deposit deductions then the tenant will need to be able to prove when the tenancy ended.
How to end a Periodic Tenancy?
A periodic tenancy or a rolling tenancy is one of the following:
- A rental contract that didn’t specify a set end date
- A fixed term contract that has expired, but the tenant stayed on without signing a new fixed term contract
Similar to ending the fixed term contract, the tenant will need to submit a formal, written notice letter which must include the information stated above. The landlord must also agree to accept a reduced notice period if the tenant asks for one and before drawing up the letter, its’ a good idea for tenants to get their landlords to confirm the end of the tenancy date in writing.
The amount of notice to give for a periodic tenancy is dependent upon what was written in the original fixed term rental agreement. If however, the tenancy agreement doesn’t specify the notice period, then the tenant must give at least 1 month’s notice if it’s a monthly tenancy or 4 weeks notice for a rolling weekly tenancy. The end date specified in the letter to the landlord must be either the first or last day of the rental period and the tenant is free to pick which one.
For a monthly periodic tenancy
For instance, if the tenancy started on the 12th of the month then the last day of the rental period will be the 11th of the month and the first day of the next rental period will be the 12th of the month.
For a weekly periodic tenancy
If the tenancy started on Tuesday then the last day or the rental period will be on a Monday and the first day of the next rental period will be on the following Tuesday.
Can you leave a tenancy without giving notice?
If a tenant chooses to leave their tenancy without giving their landlord notice then this is deemed as abandonment and the tenancy is still legally in their name and the agreement still stands with the landlord. This means that the landlord legally can still charge the tenant rent because the tenancy hasn’t been ended properly and this can still be the case even if the property is re-let.
The landlord is also able to take the offending tenant to court to claim back the rent that is owed to them and the repercussions of not ending the renters contract properly can follow the tenant into their next tenancy and make it harder to find new accommodation, as most landlords require a reference from the previous landlord before letting their properties.
How can a tenant end a joint tenancy agreement?
If there are more than two people listed in the renter’s contract then this is a joint tenancy. Any one of the tenants listed on the contract are able to give notice to the landlord but in doing this it will end the contract for all the tenants.
If one of the tenants wants to leave then they can apply to the landlord to see if they are happy for someone else to take their place at the property, and the landlord can agree to a new tenancy with the remaining tenants who want to stay.
If one of the tenants leaves without giving the landlord notice then the whole rent will still be due and the landlord can still deduct money from their deposit or go to court recover the rent.