Occupier ends a basic protection tenancy or licence

Notices if an occupier wants to leave depend on whether they have a periodic or a fixed-term agreement.

This content applies to England

Written or verbal contract

Parties to a contract can rely on the terms, whether they are written or verbal. Specialist legal advice should be sought where a party seeks to rely on a non contractual agreement or undertaking.

Notice to leave

If an occupier with basic protection wants to leave, the notice they must give depends on whether they have a periodic agreement or a fixed-term agreement. The tenant could also surrender the tenancy but only if the landlord agrees.

Periodic occupiers

A valid notice to quit by the tenant ends the tenancy. 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 (although a yearly tenant need only give six months' notice), unless the tenancy agreement expressly allows otherwise.

Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 the notice must also be in writing and of no less than 28 days.[1]

Fixed-term occupiers

If the occupier has a fixed term agreement, unless there is a break clause in the agreement allowing the occupier to give notice to leave early, they have to remain until the end of the fixed term.

An occupier who leaves before the end of the fixed term can be legally liable to pay the rent for the whole of the term.


A surrender is a voluntary agreement between the landlord and occupier that the tenancy (or licence) has come to an end. A surrender terminates the tenancy/licence, whether it is fixed-term or periodic.

A surrender can be express or implied. For a surrender to be implied there must be a clear indication, by action or words, on the part of the occupier of their intention to leave for good and, on the part of the landlord, of its willingness to accept the surrender.[2]

The surrender of a joint tenancy will only be effective where all the joint tenants are party to it.[3]

Last updated: 8 March 2021


  • [1]

    s.5 Protection From Eviction Act 1977.

  • [2]

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

  • [3]

    Leek and Moorlands Building Society v Clark [1952] 2 All ER 492, CA; Camden LBC v Lahouasnia [1998] C.L.Y. 3033.