When you are in the last few months of your tenancy you will need to think about whether you want to renew your tenancy and stay in your property or leave at the end. Here is the information you will need to consider.
Whether you want to stay or leave you will need to let your landlord/letting agent know of your intentions. Usually you will have to give a minimum of 1 months’ notice, however this varies and it is best to check what is written in your agreement. Notice must also be given in writing.
You will have two options:
- Sign another fixed-term agreement with your landlord
- Move to a rolling contract instead.
If you chose to sign another fixed term agreement you will need to be mindful that your landlord might want to increase the rent. If so you can try and negotiate this. There may also be renewal fees if renting though a letting agent.
A fixed term agreement does give you more security than a rolling or periodic tenancy but you will be committing yourself to another 6 or 12 months living and paying rent at the property.
If you move to a rolling contract these can be from month to month or from week to week, depending on how often your rent is paid. This can give you more flexibility if you decide to move out, however it does mean your landlord only has to give you two months’ notice if they want you to move out.
For more information on renewing your tenancy please see here http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/private_renting/ending_a_tenancy/renewing_your_private_tenancy
If you have a fixed term agreement you are unable to leave this early, unless there is a break clause in the tenancy agreement or your landlord agrees.
If you decide you do not wish to continue living where you are after your fixed term agreement comes to an end, you will need to check how much notice you might need to give the landlord or letting agent. This lets them know what you intend to do. Once they know you won’t be renewing they may start arranging viewings of the property to other potential tenants.
Rent Smart! – Landlords and letting agents have to give you 24 hours notice of any viewings they wish to do. These also have to be done at a reasonable time of day and with your consent.
If you live in a shared house and you want to leave during the tenancy you will need to check with your landlord/letting agent about this and see if you can find a replacement tenant to take over your tenancy. There may be agency fees to do this and you will need to inform the landlord/letting agency if you find someone to take over your tenancy otherwise you will be subletting.
If a shared house has a joint tenancy and the individual leaves without finding a replacement, everybody is liable for the rent including the person who has left. It will be up to the landlord/letting agent who they chase for the money.
For more information about ending your fixed term tenancy agreement please visit the Shelter website: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/private_renting/ending_a_tenancy/ending_a_fixed_term_agreement
If you have a periodic/rolling tenancy you will need to give either 4 weeks notice or 1 months notice depending on how the rent is paid and what is stated in the contract. This has to be in writing.
Be aware that if one tenant in a joint tenancy gives written notice to their landlord/letting agent the agreement will be ended for all of you. None of you will have the right to continue living there. This does not apply during a fixed term tenancy.
For more information about ending a periodic/rolling agreement please see the Shelter website: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/private_renting/ending_a_tenancy/ending_a_periodic_agreement
Abandonment: leaving without giving notice
If you leave without giving notice your tenancy agreement won’t have ended and your landlord can still charge you rent, either until you have given proper notice or it has been re-let.
Landlords can apply for a court order to make you pay what you owe. This will make it more difficult to rent in the future, as most landlords and letting agencies will ask for references and carry out credit checks.
Depending on what tenancy type you have, if your landlord wants you to leave they must give you notice in a particular way, including certain information and warnings.
Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs)
Your landlord can sometimes want to take back their property without giving a particular reason. To do this however the following must apply (as stated on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/private-renting-tenancy-agreements/your-landlord-wants-to-end-your-tenancy)
- Deposit has been correctly protected in a deposit protection scheme
- You have been given at least 2 months’ written notice that they want the property back (‘notice to quit’) and the date you must leave.
- The date you must leave is at least 6 months after your original tenancy began (the one you had on first moving in)
- You have a periodic tenancy – or you have a fixed-term tenancy and your landlord isn’t asking you to leave before the end of the fixed term
- You haven’t made a complaint to the council about the living conditions in the property that resulted in the council serving a notice to the landlord (for tenancies starting after 30 September 2015)
If your tenancy started after 30 September 2015 your landlord can’t evict you unless they’ve given you:
- A copy of the leaflet ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’
- An energy performance certificate
- A gas safety certificate
- They have to use the form ‘Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (Form 6a)’.
During the fixed term
If you’re still in the fixed term, your landlord can only ask you to leave if they have a reason or ‘grounds’ for wanting possession that’s in the Housing Act 1988. Examples of the grounds include:
- You’re behind with your rent payments (‘in arrears’)
- You’ve used the property for illegal purposes, eg selling drugs
- Your landlord wants to move back into the property
- The notice period they must give varies from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the grounds they’re using.
- Your landlord will need to use one of the reasons or ‘grounds’ for possession in the Housing Act 1988.
Excluded tenancies or licences
- You’ll often have an excluded tenancy or licence if you live with your landlord as a lodger and share rooms with them.
- Your landlord only needs to give ‘reasonable notice’ to quit. Usually this means the length of the rental payment period – so if you pay rent weekly, you’ll get one week’s notice.
- The notice doesn’t have to be in writing.
Non-excluded tenancy or licence
- Your landlord can end the let at any time by serving a written ‘notice to quit’. The notice period will depend on the tenancy or agreement, but is often at least 4 weeks.
If there’s a break clause in the tenancy agreement, your landlord can give you notice after this. However, your landlord doesn’t have a guaranteed right to possession during the first 6 months of the tenancy.
If you don’t leave the property
- Your landlord can’t remove you by force. If the notice period expires and you don’t leave the property, your landlord may start the process of eviction through the courts.
Once you know you are leaving a property and approach the end, you will have to start thinking about what else you need to do such as who needs to know you are moving, arranging cleaning, donating any unwanted items and arranging help with moving your things.
The below is an example list of people and organisations you will normally need to inform you are moving and supply your new address.
- Local council for council tax, rubbish removal.
- Family and friends
- School, Doctor and Dentist
- Utility companies - gas, water, electricity, and telephone
- Bank/building society
- Insurance companies - car and house
- Other financial organisations
- Inland Revenue
- TV Licensing Authority - a legal requirement
- DVLA - a legal requirement
- Motoring Organisations
- Post Office - expect a small fee for mail redirection
- Cable/satellite company
You should discuss with the people you live with about when you will be doing cleaning and if your tenancy agreement states you need to clean anything specifically, for example have carpets professionally cleaned or the windows cleaned. You can search for cleaning companies through services such as ‘Check-a-Trade’ http://www.checkatrade.com/
Get quotes from a few companies and keep the receipt and invoices. These can be used as proof specific cleaning was done, if disputed.
If you are to have anything professionally cleaned check with your agent/landlord that this was also done before you moved in and check invoices. Check what your tenancy agreement says you need to do.
You can find information on your waste and recycling here: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/environment/recycling-rubbish-and-street-cleaning-0
You might not want to take everything you have with you so you can donate them instead. For a local list of companies that will take furniture and other household items, along with bulky waste collection prices please take a look at the Council webpages- http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/environment/recycling-rubbish-and-street-cleaning/bulky-waste-collection
There are many charities across Brighton and the surrounding area but please check with them in advance if they can take your items.
Please don’t leave any unwanted items in your property as you will be charged for the removal of these.
You might not be able to take everything you own with you and might not want to get rid of it either. The next option would be to store your belongings. This might not be cheap but there are a number of companies in Brighton and the surrounding area you can use.
See Moving in Section for information.
You will need to check with the landlord/ letting agent the procedure for the last day of your tenancy, what time do you need to leave by and where to return the keys.
You will need to take meter readings for gas, electricity and water on your last day and give these to the utility company so they can send out final bills.
Rent Smart!-Make sure you have given them your forwarding address for the final bill.
Once you have moved out or on your final day, your landlord/letting agency will do a check out inventory. They will go around the property and check for any damage or wear and tear.
This will be compared to the check in inventory which was done to see any changes.
You have a right to be present at this so ask when this will be happening.
Rent Smart!-Remember to take pictures of the property when you leave, you can compare these to the ones you took at the beginning and will help if there are any disputes over the condition of the property or fixtures in it.
The landlord or letting agency can hire an external company to do this, or they will carry it out themselves.
Make sure you check both check in and out inventories against each other for any discrepancies, such as being charged for missing items that were not on the original inventory.
Once the inventory has been completed a report of this will be sent to your letting agent/landlord (if carried out by an external company) and any you will find out about any deductions recommended to come out of the deposit. You should request to have a copy of the checkout inventory, especially if you were not present when it was done.
For further information about inventories please see the Shelter website: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/private_renting/renting_privately/making_an_inventory
You will need to check the details of the particular deposit scheme in which your deposit is being kept as to the procedure for getting your money back.
If the landlord/letting agency have recommended money be used from the deposit you should be given the details as to why and how much.
Deductions from deposits can be made for the following reasons:
- Unpaid rent
- Damage to the property
- Missing Items
- Cleaning costs
Your tenancy agreement should state what is covered by the deposit.
Deductions your landlord can’t make
- Unpaid bills for gas, electricity or water (unless they're part of your rent payments) – it's the responsibility of the utility companies to get payment for these if your name is on the bill
- Costs for re-letting the property such as advertising or agency fees
- Reasons such as having a noisy party, or keeping pets, when your contract said you couldn't.
For more information on deposit deductions please visit the Shelter website: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/tenancy_deposits/getting_your_deposit_back/deductions_from_tenancy_deposits
If you don’t agree with what the landlord or agent is deducting money for or the amount, then you may be able to contact the deposit scheme and use the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service of the scheme that protected your deposit.
Your landlord must agree to use this service.
The service is free and their decision is final.
You can make a tenancy deposit compensation claim if your tenancy deposit should have been protected but wasn't.
You can find out more about getting your deposit back along with template letters on the Shelter website: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/tenancy_deposits/getting_your_deposit_back/return_of_a_tenancy_deposit_when_a_tenancy_ends
There are many websites out there where you can leave a review about your time in the property and the experience you have had living there and dealing with the landlord or letting agent.
One website you can review your agent is https://www.allagents.co.uk/
You can leave positive or negative reviews. Remember to be truthful and stick to facts. Don't use offensive language.
Useful contacts where you can seek advice on any of the issues raised above as well as anything not covered you can contact the following services: