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How an assured tenancy can end

This content applies to England

This page provides further information on how an assured tenancy can be ended.

Tenant giving up fixed-term tenancy

There are three ways in which a fixed-term assured tenancy can potentially be ended by the tenant.

Surrender

A surrender is a voluntary agreement between the landlord and tenant that the fixed-term tenancy has come to an end.

Surrender can be express or implied. Implied surrender involves an unequivocal act or acts by both the tenant and landlord that are inconsistent with the continuation of the tenancy.[1] An example would be where the tenant hands the keys over to the landlord with an intention to end the tenancy and the landlord accepts the keys and agrees to the tenancy ending. If the tenant simply put the keys through the landlord's letterbox, this would only be an offer of surrender not a surrender itself.[2]

For more information about the requirements for a surrender of a tenancy see the page Surrender.

Notice to quit

A notice to quit by the tenant will not bring the fixed term to an end. Unless there is a clause in the tenancy agreement that allows for the tenant to give notice, known as a break clause, the tenant will be bound by the terms of the agreement until it expires.

See the page on Notice to quit: Tenants for more information.

Leave on the last day

Normally, the tenant can leave on the last day of a fixed-term tenancy without giving notice, and this will end the tenancy.[3] If the tenant remains even a day longer than the last day of a fixed-term tenancy a statutory periodic assured tenancy will arise, which the tenant can end by serving a valid notice to quit.

Some tenancy agreements require that the tenant gives the landlord notice of intent (as opposed to a formal notice to quit) a specified period before the last day if s/he will leave on that day. A failure to give the landlord the required notice would be a breach of contract and arguably the landlord could sue the tenant for any extra expense s/he incurs.

The Guidance on unfair contract terms suggests that any contractual term requiring the tenant to give notice to terminate the tenancy at the end of the fixed term would be unfair and thus unenforceable. It should be noted that both the validity of such a clause and whether it is unfair remains to be tested in the courts.

When the tenancy continues as a contractual periodic tenancy on the expiry of the fixed-term (for example a tenancy agreement that states it is 'for a term of twelve months and thereafter shall roll on from month to month') the tenant cannot end the tenancy by leaving on the last day. S/he will be required to serve a valid notice to quit or agree a surrender with the landlord.

Tenant giving up periodic tenancy

If the tenancy is periodic, either contractual or statutory periodic, the following will apply:

  • surrender by the tenant will bring the tenancy to an end if the landlord agrees (see the page on Surrender for more information)
  • a valid notice to quit by the tenant will end the tenancy (see the page on Notice to quit: Tenants for more information).

Tenancy ceasing to be assured

The tenancy may cease to be assured in a number of ways:

  • variation of tenancy - the landlord and tenant have agreed to vary the terms of the tenancy in such a way that it no longer has assured status. For example, where the rent is varied so that it comes into the category of a low rent or a high rent, which excludes the tenancy from assured status. A variation may result in the tenant becoming a tenant with basic protection or an excluded occupier (see the section on occupiers with Basic protection/excluded occupiers for more information)
  • ceasing to occupy as only or principal home - the tenant ceases to occupy the accommodation as her/his 'only or principal home', although in some circumstances assured status can be regained if later the tenant moves back in (see the page What is an assured tenancy? for more about the 'only and principal home' rule and its application)
  • subletting the property - the tenant of a private registered provider of social housing sublets, or parts with possession of, the whole of her/his social accommodation in breach of an express or implied term of the tenancy agreement - in this case the assured tenancy ends and security cannot be regained (see the page Social housing fraud for more information about criminal and civil consequences relating to the unauthorised subletting of social housing)[4]
  • 'no right to rent' notice served - where the Home Office serves a disqualification from renting notice (under section 33D(2) of the Immigration Act 2014) on the landlord naming all of the occupiers in a premises, the assured tenancy is converted into an excluded tenancy[5] and the landlord can serve a minimum of 28 days' notice to evict (on the prescribed form[6]).

Landlord regains possession

In order to regain possession of a property let on an assured tenancy, a landlord must obtain a court order. To begin the process a landlord must first serve a notice of intention to bring proceedings on the tenant.[7] The notice must be in the prescribed form[8], and it is commonly called a notice of seeking possession (NSP) or 'section 8' notice.

See the section on Notices: Assured tenancies for further information.

[1] Artworld Financial Corporation v Safaryan [2009] EWCA Civ 303.

[2] Laine v Cadwallader [2001] L&TR 8, CA.

[3] Right d. Flower v. Darby (1786) 1 T.R. 159; Cobb v Stokes (1807) 8 East 358.

[4] s.15A Housing Act 1988, as inserted by s.6 Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013; in England, in force with effect from 15 October 2013 under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 (Commencement) (England) Order 2013 SI 2013/2622.

[5] s.3A(7D) Protection from Eviction Act 1977 inserted by s.40(5) Immigration Act 2016 (in force with effect from 1 December 2016).

[6] Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Termination of Residential Tenancy Agreements) (Guidance etc.) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1060.

[7] s.8 Housing Act 1988.

[8] Form No.3 Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/620 as amended by Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/443 and (with effect from 1 December 2016) Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment No.2) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1118.

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