This section looks into three different aspects of ending an assured shorthold tenancy from the perspective of a tenant in England or Wales:
- If you’re facing eviction (with grounds for eviction)
- If your landlord wants to end the tenancy (no-fault eviction)
- If you want to give notice to end your tenancy
1) If you’re facing eviction (with grounds for eviction)
If you’ve received an eviction notice (section 8 notice) from your landlord or letting agent, the first thing you should do is determine whether or not the grounds for eviction are valid. Seek professional advice if necessary.
The only way you can be evicted by a Section 8 eviction notice is if you have breached one of the grounds for eviction, such as falling behind on rent, or illegally sub-letting the property (assuming sub-letting is not permitted as per the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement).
For more information, you can read my blog post that takes a look at the question, can my landlord evict me?
Valid grounds for Eviction
If you’re sure that your landlord does have valid grounds for eviction, you should vacate the premises by the date specified in the Section 8 notice. The notice period you’re entitled to will depend on the grounds you’re being evicted on (more information available here). If you refuse to vacate, your landlord can take you to court to seek High court enforcement.
Invalid grounds for Eviction
If your landlord does not have valid grounds to evict you specified in the Section 8 notice, you should seek legal advice.
2) If your landlord wants to end the tenancy (no-fault eviction)
If you have received a Section 21 notice, your landlord is informing you that he/she does not wish to continue the tenancy at the end of the fixed term or periodic term. A Section 21 CANNOT be used to terminate a tenancy in the middle of a fixed term tenancy!
Your landlord is will with in their rights to do this as long as the Section 21 notice is served properly.
In most cases, your landlord is required to provide you with a minimum of two months notice.
3) If you want to give notice to end your tenancy
Ending your tenancy at the end of the fixed or periodic term
If you wish to notify your landlord or letting agent that you do not wish to continue the tenancy at the end of your fixed or periodic term, you should provide a minimum of one months’ notice before the end date, by written notification. Here is an example of a ‘Surrender Of Tenancy Letter’ for tenants.
Ending your tenancy in the middle of the fixed term
It’s generally a lot more difficult to end a tenancy in the middle of your fixed-term, because you are contractually obligated to remain a tenant until the end-date that has been agreed upon.
Whether you can end the tenancy during the fixed-term will ultimately depend on your landlord.
The first thing you will need to do is contact your landlord or letting agent and explain your situation. If you are experiencing hardship or facing an unforeseen situation, hopefully they will understand and make things easy for you. Once you’ve explain your situation, one of the following will most likely happen:
- Your landlord will refuse and require you to honour the terms of the tenancy.
- Your landlord will allow you to vacate early on the basis that you pay a penalty (typically to cover marketing costs of finding new tenants. But they could also demand the rent for the remaining months).
- Your landlord shows compassion to your situation and agrees to “mutually surrender” the tenancy early.
Legal Support & Professional Advice
Ending a tenancy, depending on the circumstances, can often be a highly confusing, complicated and volatile situation! So if you’re after some advice, I recommend contacting either Citizens Advice or Shelter:
- Citizens Advice – free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities.
- Shelter – housing and homelessness charity who offer advice and support.