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Ending a contractual protected tenancy

This content applies to England

This page explains how the contractual tenancy can be brought to an end.

A landlord cannot obtain a possession order against a regulated tenant until s/he has terminated the contractual tenancy, the effect of termination is to convert the contractual tenancy into a statutory tenancy.

For the grounds available against statutory tenants see the pages on Discretionary grounds and Mandatory grounds.

Expiry of a fixed term

On expiry of the fixed term any tenant who still occupies the premises as her/his residence becomes a statutory tenant.

Surrender

A surrender is a voluntary agreement between the landlord and tenant that the tenancy has come to an end. A surrender will terminate the tenancy, whether it is fixed-term or periodic.

A surrender can be express or implied. For more information see the page Surrender.

Forfeiture

This allows the landlord to bring a fixed term contractual tenancy to an end before the expiry of the original fixed term, converting it into a statutory tenancy. In order for the landlord to use forfeiture there must be a clause in the tenancy agreement that allows her/him to do so. Before the landlord issues proceedings for forfeiture, s/he must:

  • where the breach is rent arrears – issue a formal written demand for the arrears, although this is not required if the clause in the tenancy agreement states otherwise.
  • where the breach is not rent arrears – issue a notice which specifies the breach, requests that it be remedied (if it is capable of remedy) and requests an amount of compensation for the breach.[1]

If the tenant remedies the breach, or the landlord acts in such a way as to unequivocally affirm the lease (by, for example, issuing a further demand for, and/or accepting, rent),[2] the contractual tenancy continues. If not then the landlord can issue proceedings. If her/his case is proved then forfeiture takes place from the date the proceedings were served. Since the tenant will now be a statutory tenant, the landlord will then have to prove a ground for possession. This will usually be dealt with at the same hearing.

The tenant can apply for relief from forfeiture. If relief is granted then the tenancy remains contractual. Relief operates in different ways depending on whether the breach is for rent arrears or not. Where there are rent arrears, the tenant can pay all the arrears into court at least five days before the hearing, and the action ceases. Possession will be delayed after the hearing for at least four weeks, and during this time the tenant can pay all arrears and costs. The court can also adjourn the hearing to consider whether the tenant can pay. The tenant may also apply to the court for relief within six months of the landlord obtaining possession.

In cases of breaches of other covenants, the court may grant relief subject to whatever conditions it sees fit.

Notice to quit by landlord or tenant

This terminates a contractual periodic tenancy and cannot be used during a fixed term unless the tenancy agreement provides for it. The notice must expire on the first or last day of a period of the tenancy and be equal to the length of the period of the tenancy, unless the tenancy agreement expressly allows otherwise. Under section 5 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 the notice must also be in writing and of no less than 28 days.

For further information see the section on Notices to quit.

Notice of increase in rent

A valid notice of increase in rent that gives as much notice as would have been necessary for a notice to quit ends the contractual period, and a statutory tenancy arises.

[1] s.146 Law of Property Act 1925.

[2] Thomas v Ken Thomas [2006] EWCA Civ 1504.

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