Moving out

All good things must come to an end and, whether you’re graduating and moving on or you’re looking for a different property, moving out of a student house requires just as much attention as moving in. If you just up and leave, without returning the keys or fulfilling the requirements in the tenancy agreement, then […]

moving out

All good things must come to an end and, whether you’re graduating and moving on or you’re looking for a different property, moving out of a student house requires just as much attention as moving in. If you just up and leave, without returning the keys or fulfilling the requirements in the tenancy agreement, then you could find yourself losing your deposit and getting a bad reference from the landlord, neither of which is helpful when it comes to living elsewhere.


Most tenancy agreements require notice to end them, even if the contract is for a specific period of time and that time is almost up. If you don’t end the tenancy agreement by giving notice then you could roll into what is called a periodic tenancy – this arises when neither the landlord or the tenant(s) give any indication that they want to end the arrangement. If you haven’t given notice you could end up being liable for more rent. How much notice you need to give will depend on the tenancy agreement, it’s normally two months.

Moving out early

If you have a tenancy agreement for a year and you want to leave early then remember you don’t have the right to do so unless there is a break clause. Read your tenancy agreement and see a)if there is a break clause or b) when and how you can use this break clause. If there is no break clause then you will need to ask the landlord to ‘surrender’ the tenancy, which essentially means agreeing to you moving out early. If the landlord agrees – or the agent agrees on their behalf – make sure you get this in writing.

Moving out fees

There are likely to be more fees to pay when you leave a property.

Check out inventory fee – check what the tenancy says about who pays this. It’s usual for the landlord to pay for the check in and the tenants for the check out, or vice versa.

Cleaning fees – if your tenancy requires that you pay for a full professional clean when you leave then this is something you will need to factor in to your move out budget. Sometimes, this is a set fee that you pay when you leave, at other times it’s a cost you need to research and manage yourself.

Other fees – there should be no other fees to pay so if you get a charge from the agent or landlord for ‘deposit return fee,’ ‘admin fees’ or ‘notice fee’ or anything that sounds a little unusual, it’s a good idea to challenge it. There should be no deposit return fee and anything else must be to cover some sort of cost or expense, for which you can request an invoice as proof.

Moving out checklist

  • Give notice on the property. Make sure this is set out, signed, dated and delivered as the tenancy agreement says it should be or it won’t be valid and you’ll have to keep paying rent.
  • Stop your rent standing order (after the last payment obviously).
  • Eat up leftover food and defrost the fridge/freezer (a good excuse to live off takeaway pizzas for a week).
  • Give notice to all the utilities companies you have been using (gas, electricity, broadband). Each company will have their own specifications about when to do this so make sure you give enough time as notice before you leave.
  • Start collecting cardboard boxes for the move – local corner shops and supermarkets normally have plenty of these and it’s much cheaper than buying them new.
  • Think about how you’re going to clear the property out. If you’ve been living there for a while then you might have a lot to get rid of – remember you can’t leave anything behind or you could be charged a fee for removing it so if you’ve got lots to throw out, start doing this several weeks before your move out date.
  • Do you need to get rid of any furniture? Again, you can’t leave furniture in the property if it wasn’t there when you moved in (unless you have permission in writing from the landlord/agent). The council will normally come and collect large items but you have to give them plenty of notice. You can also try using upcycling sites such as Freecycle or selling items on EBay.
  • Have you provided a forwarding address and contact details? This will be necessary for discussion about the return of the deposit.
  • Who is going to do the cleaning? If you’re booking professional cleaners then do that for the day before you move out and make sure that all your possessions will be out of the rooms by then. Check your tenancy to see what is required – a professional clean or simply leaving the property as you found it?
  • Do a check out inventory – it’s crucial that you do this before you hand the keys back so that you have a record of the state that the property was left in. Again, time stamped photos are very useful. If there is any particular damage then it’s a good idea to take photos of that so you can show exactly how minor it is.
  • How is your deposit to be returned? Your tenancy agreement should state how the deposit is returned. Normally, the landlord will have to send through any deductions they want to make within a certain period of time. After that you can agree or not and then the deposit is either repaid or a dispute is opened with the deposit protection scheme that has the deposit.
  • Book a moving van/your parents/your mate. You need to make sure all your possessions are out of the property before you hand the keys back so get that organised in advance.
  • Change your address – if you already know your new address then change that with the bank, phone company etc. You can always set up mail forwarding to your parent’s or friends’ address if you don’t but remember once the keys are returned you have no right to enter the property, even to pick up post.

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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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