Ending a month to month tenancy

You normally have to give at least 4 weeks' notice or 1 months' notice if you want to end a tenancy that has either gone beyond its fixed term or did not have a fixed term in the first place.

This probably applies to you if you had an assured shorthold tenancy for 6 or 12 months, but that period has now run out and you’re still living in your rented place, even though you haven’t signed a new tenancy agreement.

There are different rules if a tenancy is still in the fixed term, for example, if you're only 6 or 7 months into a 12 month agreement.

How much notice do you have to give?

If your agreement is ‘periodic’ (that is, it rolls from week to week or month to month) you normally have to give at least 1 month's notice to end it, or 4 weeks' notice if you have a weekly tenancy.

The main exceptions to this are if:

  • your landlord agrees to accept a shorter notice period
  • your tenancy agreement says you have to give more notice

The date a notice period should end on

Normally the notice you give must end on the first or last day of the period of a tenancy, except when your tenancy agreement says something different. The first day of your tenancy is usually the day your rent is due..

Check with a housing adviser if you’re not sure about the dates.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser in near you. 

What should you put in your notice letter?

You should give your landlord notice in writing, and keep a copy for your records.

Make sure your letter gives details of:

  • your name
  • your address
  • the date on which you’ll be leaving the property
  • the address the landlord can use to contact you after you’ve left, for example, to return your tenancy deposit

If possible, deliver the notice letter to your landlord by hand and ask for a receipt. If you post it, it’s best to send it by recorded delivery.

Landlords won’t normally accept an email as a valid form of notice, unless your tenancy agreement specifically says this can be done.

Leaving without giving notice

It's called 'abandonment' if you leave without giving notice, for example if you move and then post the keys through the letterbox. Doing this won’t end your tenancy.

Your agreement with the landlord continues even though you've left. The landlord can continue to charge you rent, so you're likely to build up rent arrears.

The landlord can hold you responsible for paying the rent until the agreement is ended by giving proper notice or it is re-let. Your landlord can apply for a court order to make you pay what you owe.

'Doing a runner' may also make it harder for you to find a new home. Most private landlords and letting agents ask new tenants for references from previous landlords. They may not want to rent to a tenant who has abandoned a tenancy in the past, or has a history of rent arrears.

Using your deposit to pay the final month’s rent

It’s important to remember that you’re responsible for paying the rent until your tenancy comes to an end. Your landlord could take you to court if you withhold rent.

If you do decide to withhold the last month's rent, make sure your landlord would have no other claim to your tenancy deposit. Fix any damage you have caused and replace any broken items. Keep some evidence of the condition of the property as you left it, for example, photographs of each room and bills for any cleaning or other work you have paid for.

If you have a joint tenancy or licence

You have a joint tenancy or licence if you share your home with a spouse, partner, family member or friend and both or all of your names are on the agreement.

The actions of each individual person will affect all of your rights:

  • If just one joint tenant gives valid notice to the landlord, 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.
  • If one of you leaves without giving notice, the whole rent will still be due and the others will have to pay the missing person's share.
  • If one of you has caused damage, the landlord is entitled to take money out of your shared deposit.

If you're thinking about leaving, be sure to discuss it with the other joint tenants before you take any action. It may be possible for someone else to take your place, for the landlord to give a new tenancy agreement to those who are staying, or both.

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