What should you do at the end of a tenancy?
If you’ve been renting a home and have decided to move on, you’ll need to let your landlord know. Maybe you’re moving to a new area, upsizing to a larger property or even buying your own home.
Whatever your reasons, there are some steps you’ll need to take so you can move out with no issues. If you don’t give the proper notice, you could be liable for the rent and other bills – even after you’ve gone.
Read our advice for ending a tenancy so you can look forward to your next move…
Look at your tenancy
Firstly, understand which kind of tenancy you’re on. 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 agreement, you’ll need to pay rent until the specified date, unless your landlord agrees you can leave early. However, your contract might include a break clause, which means you can move sooner. Check out the detail of your contract to understand what you can (and can’t) do.
A periodic tenancy is more flexible. You can end the agreement at any point 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 finished and will specify a notice period of one month or four weeks.
However, if you’re near the end of your fixed-term and want to stay in the property, speak to your landlord or letting agent about renewing your agreement on a fixed term or rolling basis.
How should I give notice?
Your tenancy agreement should state how you need to give notice. However, it’s always best to do this in writing directly to your landlord or letting agent. Once this has been completed, ask to receive confirmation of receipt.
Your letter should be dated and confirm the day you will be moving out. This should be the last day of the term according to your tenancy agreement.
Getting back your deposit
Once you give notice, your landlord or letting agent should 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 Stirling Ackroyd, we use my|deposits.
If the property is in good condition, your deposit will be returned with no deductions. However, if there is any damage which isn’t ‘reasonable wear and tear’, then your deposit will be used to pay for repairs. Then if you can’t agree on the return of your deposit money, each tenancy deposit scheme runs a free dispute resolution service.
Never leave without giving notice
Always leave a property by giving notice. If you don’t do this in the right way, you’ll still be liable for paying any rent or bills. Your landlord can also obtain a court order to collect any outstanding money, plus court costs.
If you don’t settle your debts, you won’t get back your deposit money and could be in rent arrears. If you’re moving to a new property, your new landlord will usually require a reference from your previous landlord.
In short, always be upfront and don’t try to run away. If your circumstances have changed but you’ve been a good tenant, talk to your landlord or letting agent to see how they can help.
What should I do if I’m being evicted
If you’ve broken the terms of your tenancy, for example, by not paying rent over a number of months, your landlord can legally evict you. There are two processes that can be used to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST): a Section 21 notice or Section 8 notice (although 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 can take tenants to court to be evicted lawfully. You will have two months’ notice, but the whole process can take long (around 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 your situation has changed, always be honest. If you’re a reliable tenant, your landlord or letting agent should be willing to help.
What should I do before leaving?
Settle all your bills before you move out, including electricity, internet, gas and council tax. Photograph the gas and electricity metres for your records. Contact all of your providers to tell them you’ll be moving on a specific date so you’re not charged.
Speak to an expert
If you’re looking for a new home, get in touch with our lettings or sales teams at Stirling Ackroyd to discover the properties available for rent or to buy in your area today. Contact us on 020 3961 7806 or email us today.