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Voluntary End of Tenancy And Notice to Vacate

If you’re a private renter, you most likely have an Assured Shorthold tenancy. It gives you a reasonable security for the duration of the fixed term, but it also offers flexibility to move on short notice after the fixed term ends. This article will help you properly end your tenancy so that there are no disputes surrounding your move.

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Ending your tenancy doesn’t need to happen with a violent dispute and eviction. Many tenants choose to move out because of a better deal or more comfortable location. In such cases, you need to give proper notification and organise the end of the tenancy. The way your tenancy ends depends if you have a fixed or periodic tenancy.

Ending a fixed term tenancy

Your tenancy begins with a fixed term for usually 6 or 12 months. Fixed terms exist to guarantee the tenancy length up to a review / renew date. During this time the tenancy is protected and it can only end with the explicit permission of both the landlord and the tenant.

This means you’re protected from arbitrary eviction, but are also responsible for renting the property for the entire fixed term. That means that unless the landlord agrees to terminate the  contract, you’re liable for paying rent and bills for the property until the last day of the fixed term.

Tips for negotiating with your landlord

If you get the landlord’s consent, you can end the tenancy before the fixed term has expired. However, it’s unlikely a landlord will want to end a 6 month or often even a 12 month fixed term early. Moving is costly for the tenant, but it’s also costly for the landlord.

The landlord needs to arrange viewings during their own time or use a letting agent that will not work for free. Depending on when you wish to leave and how much notice you provide, they may also have the property empty for a couple of weeks or even a full month.

And if there are any repairs or updates that are mandatory before the next tenant moves in, a switch of tenants may easily exceed a couple of thousand pounds of costs for the landlord.

Obviously, they will want to avoid such costs until they have no other choice, so often you will need to wait until the fixed expires and move out on the last day. However, if you can make your move and manage to alleviate your landlord’s costs, they will be much more likely to let you go easily.

Here are some tips that might help the negotiations:

  • Find a replacement tenant that agrees to pay the current rent and is ready to move in right after you move out.
  • Prepare the property so its move in ready – good cleaning, minor repairs, repainting if needed.
  • Have your rent, bills and council tax paid in full, before you contact the landlord.

Break clause

The break clause is an addition to the standard Assured Shorthold tenancy agreement, which allows for either side to end the lease during a specific period of time. Break clauses are more popular when your fixed term is 12 months. The break clause would allow for the landlord or the tenant to end the tenancy usually at the 6th month mark.

The exact wording of the clause will describe how to serve a notice to your landlord if you wish to end the tenancy and have a break clause included in the lease.

Do you need to serve a notice ?

When the fixed term expires, you are free to leave on the last day. You’re not required to give any kind of warning or notification. However, it’s advisable that you still follow the one month rule. It’s only polite to give a heads up to your landlord. It will help them organise the end of tenancy and start looking for another tenant, while you prepare to move.

Also, you will likely need to get a positive reference from your landlord. Leaving without notice, albeit legally, will likely kill your chances to get a spotless recommendation.

Just a polite phone call or an email will suffice, but you can also send them a written notice. Read below on how you can write the perfect notice to vacate.

Ending a periodic tenancy

Periodic tenancies are more flexible for both sides to end the tenancy. You have a periodic tenancy if you’ve initially had a fixed term tenancy, but it expired and the landlord did not renew you with another one.

Very few tenancies start as periodic ones, but it is possible and you need to check your tenancy agreement to see if yours is.

In any case, the law allows for a tenant to end a periodic assured shorthold tenancy with a notice to vacate the property.

How to write a proper notice to vacate:

  • Use post or email to send your landlord the notice (any tracked service)
  • Provide for a full month between the date of sending the letter and the date you want to move out
  • If you rent with a bigger rent period – 3 months, half an year, or more, you need to allow time equal to one full rent period
  • The move out date must coincide with the first or last day of the tenancy period.

Negotiate the move out date, if it doesn’t coincide with the move in date at your new property.

Compare your move-in date at the new property with your current rent cycle and, as early as possible, discuss the precise date you want to move out with your landlord. It is unlikely that the old rent date and new rent date will coincide, but if you notify your landlord or letting agent of the date you want to move out, they may be more likely to accommodate you and let you pay, say, one week’s rent, rather than a whole extra month just for a few days more in the property. The more advance notice you give them, the more agreeable they are likely to be.

When you send your notice to vacate, you should open a discussion about scheduling the final inspection, as well as receiving your deposit back.

Arrange the final inspection

It’s best to arrange the final inspection on the day of the move or the day before, so you are still in possession of the property when the inspection is made. That way you can be present and make sure the condition is recorded properly. You have your deposit riding on top of that check out report, so you best to ensure it goes smoothly.

For more information and tips about the check out inspection, read our dedicated guide – The Tenancy Inventory Check

Negotiate the terms of getting your deposit back

You need to request your deposit only after the tenancy has ended and you’ve returned the keys back to the property. However, it’s recommended to open the discussion beforehand, so you have time to negotiate all the details and be ready to split the money (or not) when the time comes.

If you believe your landlord will want to make certain deductions and acknowledge you have a share of the blame, it’s best to proactively propose an arrangement. You can even research local service providers and propose a deduction based on the quotes you receive for the work. It’s likely you can get away with a smaller deduction if you proactively assist in the repair handling.

For more information and tips about the deposit deduction and protection schemes, read our dedicated guides:

Ending a joint tenancy

Whenever you have a joint tenancy and one tenant has to / wants to leave, the tenancy ends for both tenants. The landlord is free to sign a new tenancy agreement with the remaining tenant, but they are also free not to. So, it’s important to know that when you’re getting a joint lease with a partner or university classmate.

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This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.

We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.

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