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Obligations for renters and landlords when ending a tenancy

Wed July 26, 2017

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Eventually, all good things must come to an end, and that includes tenancies. While having a great, stable relationship between a renter and a landlord is ideal for everybody involved, there will always be situations where one party needs to move on. For renters, this could be because they're taking the next step and buying a property of their own, while landlords may need to renovate or sell the house. 

When you sign a fixed term lease, you are committing to live at the property for the duration of that term.

In any situation, it's important for the agreement to end on good terms, with both parties satisfied they've been treated fairly. Of course, this is often easier said than done, which is why we've put together this helpful guide to the obligations of renters and landlords at the end of a tenancy. 

Renters' obligations 

As a renter, if you want to end your tenancy you'll need to provide written notice to your landlord or the agent managing the property. The notice period you'll have to give depends on the nature of your particular agreement, but in general you'll need to wait until the fixed term has either expired or is about to expire. In these cases:

  • When the agreement is about to expire, you'll have to provide your landlord with at least two weeks (14 days) notice. 
  • If the fixed term has ended and you are still living at the property without having signed a new fixed term agreement, you are now in what's called a periodic tenancy. To end this you will need to provide three weeks (21 days) notice. 

In some situations, you may want to terminate a fixed term agreement early. It's important to keep in mind that when you sign a fixed term lease, you are committing to live at the property for the duration of that term, so there can be costs involved with leaving early. In certain cases, this may even mean having to pay rent until a new tenant is found or the fixed term expires - even if you no longer live at the property. 

If you do need to end your tenancy early, it's always advisable to give as much notice as you possibly can, giving your landlord or their representative the best chance of finding a new tenant before you leave. 

Alternatively, it is possible to insert what's known as a 'break clause' into your tenancy agreement. Both you and the landlord will need to agree on this, and the clause will allow you to move out before the end of the fixed term after paying a fixed fee. For terms shorter than three years, this fee is either:

  • Six weeks rent if you break the agreement in the first half of the fixed term. 
  • Four weeks rent if you break the agreement in the second half of the fixed term.

For terms longer than three years, you and the landlord can agree on the amount before signing the tenancy agreement. 

Before signing a tenancy agreement, make sure all parties know the terms. Before signing a tenancy agreement, make sure all parties know the terms.

Landlords' obligations

As a landlord, your obligations and the notice periods you have to give are slightly different. Just like your tenants, you can end the agreement at the end of the fixed term, but you do need to provide 30 days notice. If the agreement changes to a periodic tenancy after the fixed term's expiry, you'll have to provide 90 days. However, if you sell the property to a new owner after the fixed term has expired and they require vacant possession, the notice period can be reduced to 30 days. 

You are able to provide 14 days notice if a tenant breaches the tenancy agreement.

As a landlord, there are also provisions in place to protect you if a tenant breaches the agreement by not paying rent or causing damage to the property. In these cases, you are able to provide 14 days notice. 

Here at Laing+Simmons, we understand that dealing with all of these different time frames and obligations can be a bit stressful. This is especially true in cases where tenants and landlords disagree. To make the situation easier for everyone, get in touch with us today to talk about our property management services. 

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