What should I do at the end of a tenancy?
If you’ve been living in rented accommodation and have decided to move on, you’ll need to give notice to your landlord. Maybe you’re moving to a new area, upsizing to a larger property or even buying your own home.
Whatever the change in your circumstances, it’s worth knowing the steps you’ll need to take to move out of your rented home smoothly. If you don’t give the proper notice, you could be liable for the rent and other bills – even after you’ve moved out.
Read our advice for ending a tenancy so you can look forward to your next move…
Types of tenancy
Firstly, find out the kind of tenancy agreement in place. There are two main types of contract: a ‘fixed’ tenancy, which ends on a specific date, and a ‘periodic’ tenancy, which rolls from month-to-month or week-to-week.
If you’re on a fixed-term contract, you’ll need to pay rent until the specified date, unless your landlord agrees otherwise. However, your contract might include a break clause, which means you can exit the agreement earlier. Read the details of your contract carefully to understand your obligations.
A periodic tenancy is more flexible. You can end the agreement at any time by giving your landlord notice and will only have to pay rent until the end of the notice period. A periodic tenancy will usually follow once the initial fixed-term has come to an end and will include a notice period of one month or four weeks.
However, if you’re approaching the end of your fixed-term and want to stay, speak to your letting agent about renewing your agreement on a fixed or rolling basis.
How to give notice
Your tenancy agreement should specify how you need to give notice. However, it’s always best to give notice in writing directly to your landlord or letting agent. Once you’ve done this, ask to receive confirmation of receipt.
Your letter should be dated and confirm the day you will be leaving the property (the last day of the term) according to your tenancy agreement.
Getting your deposit back
Once you give notice, prompt your landlord or letting agent to start the check-out procedure, which usually involves an inspection of the property and the return of your deposit money. By law, your deposit money will be protected in one of three government-authorised schemes. At Townends, we use my|deposits.
If you have looked after the property, your deposit will be returned in full. If there is any damage which falls outside of ‘reasonable wear and tear’, then you’ll be charged for the repairs. If you can’t agree on the return of your deposit money, you can opt to use the free dispute resolution service offered by the scheme providers.
Make sure you give notice
Always leave a property by giving notice. If you don’t do this correctly, you’ll still be liable for paying any rent or bills. Your landlord can obtain a court order to collect any outstanding money, plus court costs.
Crucially, if you don’t settle your rents and bills, you won’t get back your deposit money and could be in rent arrears. Furthermore, if you’re moving to a new property, your new landlord will usually require a reference from your previous landlord.
In conclusion, always be honest and don’t try to escape your legal obligations. If your circumstances have changed but you’ve been a good tenant, discuss this with your landlord or letting agent so they can explore the options to help.
I’m being evicted – what should I do?
If you’ve broken the terms of your tenancy and a solution cannot be found, for example, by consistently not paying rent, your landlord can follow a legal process to evict you from the property. There are two processes a landlord can use to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST): a Section 21 notice or Section 8 notice. These can be used at the same time.
The most common form is a Section 21 notice, where landlords don’t need to give a reason, but tenants will go to court to be evicted lawfully. You will have two months’ notice, but the whole process can take 7-8 months.
A Section 8 notice can only be issued if you’re in rent arrears or have broken the terms of your contract. In this case, the landlord must also go to court for the eviction to take place.
Landlords will only opt for eviction as a last resort. If you’re having problems with the rent or if your circumstances have changed, inform your landlord or agent. If you’re a reliable tenant, they should be willing to work through any issues.
What should I do before leaving?
Settle all the bills before you move out, including electricity, internet, gas and council tax. Take pictures of your gas and electricity metres for your records. Make sure you contact all of your providers to tell them you’ll be leaving on a specific date, otherwise you may be charged after you’ve moved out.
Gain some expert advice
If you’re looking for a new home, get in touch with our lettings or sales teams at Townends to discover the properties available for rent or to buy in your area today. Contact us on 020 3911 3673 or email us today.