You normally have to give 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 months' notice to end it, or 4 weeks if you have a weekly tenancy.
The only exceptions to this are if:
- your landlord agrees to accept a shorter notice period, or agrees that someone else can take your place.
- you are an excluded occupier – you will normally be this if you live in the same building as your landlord
- you pay rent less frequently than monthly (every three months, for example) - in this case you have to give the same amount of notice as a rental period.
Read Shelter's guide Private Tenancies for more information for rights in a private tenancy
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 – see below
- 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.
What date should the notice period end on?
Make sure that the notice ends on the first or last day of the period of a tenancy.
For example, if your tenancy is monthly and started on the 5th day of the month, the notice you give the landlord should end on the 4th or the 5th.
Check with an adviser if you’re not sure about the dates. Use our directory to find one in your area.
What if you leave without giving notice?
Leaving without giving notice, for example by moving and then posting the keys through the letterbox, is called 'abandonment'. Doing this won’t end your agreement – even if the fixed term of your tenancy has expired.
Your agreement with the landlord will continue even though you've left and 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 could have been ended by giving proper notice - see above. They 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 or licence 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 state 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.
What 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 normally automatically be ended for all of you. None of you will have the right to continue living there. However, this does not apply if you have a fixed term tenancy that has not come to an end.
- If one of you leaves without giving notice, the whole rent will still be due and the other(s) will have to pay the missing person's share.
- If one of you has caused damage, the landlord may be entitled to take money out of your shared deposit.
If you're thinking about leaving, be sure to discuss it with the other joint tenant(s) before you take any action. It may be possible for someone else to take your place, and/or for the landlord to give a new tenancy agreement to those who are staying.
Last updated: 1 January 2014