Due to the Cornavirus crisis some guidance contained within these pages might be out of date, as the Government guidance is changing frequently during this period it is best to check for any changes on the COVID 19 and renting guides.
Surrendering your tenancy
When you sign a fixed term Tenancy Agreement you are agreeing to live in and pay rent for the property for the length of time stated, usually six or 12 months.
If you want to leave the property before the end of the tenancy you should contact your landlord to see if you can negotiate to surrender your tenancy early. Your landlord doesn’t have to agree to our request. If they agree they might ask to keep your deposit or for other or compensation for releasing you from the contract.
If you move out before the end of the fixed term without agreement from you landlord you could face penalties. These may include losing your deposit, being required to pay the rent until the end of the contract or until a new tenant is found. The landlord may also give you a poor reference.
If you do reach an agreement to surrender your tenancy early you should ask for this in writing to avoid a dispute.
Even if your landlord has failed to comply with the terms of the Tenancy Agreement you can’t necessarily leave without paying a penalty. If your landlord is not carrying out repairs or has failed to meet their responsibilities you should report this to the correct agency rather than assuming you can leave the property.
If you have a fixed term Tenancy Agreement you can leave on the last day of the tenancy without giving notice but it is good practice to give you landlord one months’ notice. This will help end the tenancy on good terms, allow you to arrange an end of tenancy check out and stop disputes over the return of your deposit.
If you have a periodic or rolling tenancy you should give your landlord give your landlord written notice that you intend to leave at the end of the tenancy. If the notice period is not included in your Tenancy Agreement then you should give 1 months’ notice if you pay your rent monthly and 4 weeks’ notice if you pay your rent weekly or fortnightly.
What happens after I serve my notice?
Once you have given your landlord notice they should arrange a pre-end of tenancy inspection to go identify any issues that need addressing before you leave.
After you give notice your landlord might ask you to show prospective tenants round before you leave. This access should be arranged in advance and with your agreement. You should not prevent reasonable access without good reason.
On the last day of the tenancy you should meet your landlord to:
- Return the keys
- Agree final meter readings
- Provide a forwarding address
- Agree the end of tenancy inventory
- Arrange for your deposit to be returned
If your landlord wants to retain all or part of your deposit them must provide you with the reason why within 10 days of the end of the tenancy.
Notice from your landlord
The law says your landlord must follow the right legal process when they want to end your Tenancy Agreement.
Whatever the reason for your landlord wanting you to leave they must start by serving valid Notice. If they fail to do this they can’t gain legal possession and could face prosecution if they try to force you to leave.
How your landlord asks you to leave will depend on the reason and the type of tenancy but notice must always be in writing and include specific information including:
- Landlords name and address
- Tenants name
- Date of when they want you to leave or when they intend to apply for a court order
Section 21 notice
If you have not breached your Tenancy Agreement but your landlord wants the property back they will need to serve a Section 21 notice. This is sometimes called a ‘no blame’ notice.
You must be given at least two months’ notice if you pay your rent monthly or eight weeks if you pay it weekly or fortnightly. If you have a fixed term tenancy a Section 21 notice can’t expire before the end of the fixed term.
If served correctly there is no defence against a Section 21 notice but there are certain rules that apply:
- If the property is subject to license your landlord must have made a valid license application
- Your landlord must have protected your deposit and provided you with the right information about that protection
- If the fixed term started on or after 1 October 2015 your landlord must have given you a copy of the gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate and ‘How to rent in England’ leaflet
If your landlord did not follow these rules the Section 21 notice may not be valid. If they correct their mistake and serve the notice again it is likely to be valid.
Section 8 notice
If you have not paid your rent, damaged the property or breached your Tenancy Agreement in some other way your landlord can end the tenancy by service a Section 8 notice. A Section 8 notice can be done at any time and the length notice given will depend on the breach.
If your landlord serves a Section 8 notice you should contact them to try to negotiate a resolution so they don’t have to follow through with the notice, for example by arranging a repayment plan.
Whether it is you or your landlord who decides to end the tenancy there are some things you must do when you move out. These include:
- Making sure the property is secure
- Returning all keys to your landlord
- Checking, and if possible agree, meter readings
- Arranging for your mail to be forwarded
- Removing any rubbish
- Leaving the property in the same state as when you moved in
- Checking the property with your landlord so your deposit can be returned
- Giving your landlord a forwarding address