You must usually give notice to end a month to month tenancy.
If you have a periodic agreement, one that rolls from week to week or month to month, you must give your landlord written notice that you want to end the tenancy.
There are different rules if a tenancy is still in the fixed term, for example if you're only six or seven months into a 12 month agreement.
How much notice you have to give
You have to give your landlord at least:
- 4 weeks' notice if you have a weekly tenancy
- 1 month's notice if you have a monthly tenancy
This applies if your tenancy has been a rolling tenancy from the start and never had a fixed term.
The same usually applies if you had a fixed term tenancy that expired and wasn't renewed with another fixed term tenancy.
Your landlord may agree to accept a shorter notice period if you ask.
If your contract says you must give a longer notice period
Sometimes your tenancy agreement says you have to give a longer period of notice.
You must give your landlord the amount of notice set out in the contract if you:
- have a rolling tenancy from the start, or
- had a fixed-term tenancy agreement that said something like 'when the fixed term expires the tenancy will continue as a contractual periodic tenancy'
Get advice if you're not sure about how much notice you have to give.
The date a notice period should end on
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 a period of your tenancy is the anniversary date each week or month of when your tenancy began. This is often the same date that your rent is due, but not always.
For example, your rent might be £1000 per month, payable in advance on the 1st of each month. But if your tenancy started on 12th April then the 12th of every following month will be the first day of a period of your tenancy.
Check with a housing adviser if you're not sure about the dates.
What to put in your notice letter
You should give your landlord notice in writing. 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 usually accept an email as a valid form of notice, unless your tenancy agreement specifically says this can be done.
Abandonment: leaving without giving notice
If you leave without giving notice, for example if you move and then put your keys through the letterbox, this is called abandonment.
Doing this doesn'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 could 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.
Leaving without giving notice or paying your rent in full could also make it harder to find a new home. Most private landlords and letting agents ask new tenants for references from previous landlords. They might not want to rent to a tenant who has abandoned a tenancy 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 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 affect the rights of everyone:
- 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 want to leave, discuss this with the other joint tenants before you take any action. It may be possible for someone else to take your place or for the landlord to give a new tenancy agreement to those who are staying.