There is often a bit of confusion about what notices tenants need to serve when they want to end the tenancy and leave.
So I thought in todays post I would just clarify this.
The rules are different depending on whether the fixed term has ended or not.
If the fixed term has not ended yet
In most cases the tenant will not be legally entitled to end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term. There are two circumstances when this can be done:
1. Under a break clause.
This is a special clause which is sometimes used in longer fixed terms to allow the landlord and the tenant to end the tenancy early.
A couple of points:
- It must be even handed. A clause which just allows the landlord to end early and not the tenant will be invalid under the unfair terms regulations
- You need to do exactly what it says. So if it says you need to serve a written notice giving not less than two months notice, that is what you have to do (for example). So read it carefully
2. By agreement.
If the landlord and tenant between them agree to end the tenancy early, there is nothing to stop them doing this. This is generally known as a ‘surrender’.
Its a good idea to set out the terms of the agreement in writing (for example if the landlord makes it a condition that they tenant pays his costs of referencing new tenants). But not essential.
If the fixed term has ended and/or if the tenancy is a periodic one
Tenants Notice to Quit
The tenant can end the tenancy by serving a notice to quit on the landlord.
A notice to quit is an old ‘common law’ notice which has the effect of ending the tenancy (but only if it is a periodic tenancy). It must give the landlord a notice period of one ‘period’ of the tenancy and end at the end of the period.
So if the tenancy is a monthly periodic tenancy running from the 4th day in the month to the 3rd, then the notice needs to end on the next 3rd day of the month after one month of service of the notice on the landlord.
Another way of putting this is that the notice period will be between one and two months depending on when in the month it is served.
If the tenant then fails to move out, there is a very old law which says the landlord can claim double rent which you can read about here.
Note that only tenants can serve a Notice to Quit in an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy, as the Housing Act 1988 specifically says that it cannot be used by landlords.
Landlords need to use the s21 and s8 notice procedures and get a court order for possession if the tenant fails to vacate.
Note – Any landlords wanting to evict their tenants can read about my DIY eviction service here.
If you want to end your tenancy by serving a Tenant’s Notice to Quit on your landlord, you will find guidance on the law and Notice to Quit wording in my Tenant Advice Guide here