Tenant ends an assured shorthold tenancy

An assured shorthold tenancy can be ended by the tenant by notice or if the tenancy ceases to be assured due a change in circumstances. 

This content applies to England

Tenant giving up a fixed term tenancy

A tenant can end a fixed term tenancy by:

  • surrendering the tenancy

  • giving notice (where there is a break clause)

  • leaving on the last day

Surrender

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

The surrender of a joint tenancy will only be effective where all the joint tenants are party to it.[1]

Giving notice

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 Notice to quit: Tenants for more information.

Leaving on the last day

The general rule is that the tenant can leave on the last day of a fixed-term tenancy without giving notice, and this will end the tenancy.[2] If the tenant remains even a day longer than the last day of a fixed-term tenancy, a statutory periodic assured shorthold tenancy will arise, which the tenant can end by serving a valid notice to quit.

Contractual periodic tenancy arising at the end of fixed term

Where the tenancy agreement contains a clause providing that a periodic tenancy will arise immediately on expiry of the fixed term, a contractual periodic tenancy that arises will be a continuation of the original tenancy. In this circumstance, the tenant cannot end the tenancy by leaving on the last day of the fixed-term agreement. To end the tenancy, the tenant must serve a valid notice to quit after the date on which the fixed term ends.

Clause requiring that landlord is informed of intention to leave

A clause in the tenancy agreement may require the tenant to inform the landlord if they intend to leave on the last day of a fixed term. If the tenant fails to inform the landlord in accordance with the agreement, the landlord may be able to argue that they have suffered a loss and/or incurred extra costs as a consequence.

The now archived Guidance on Unfair terms in tenancy agreements had suggested 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.[3]

Tenant giving up a 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

  • a valid notice to quit by the tenant will end the tenancy

When a tenancy ceases to be assured

An assured shorthold tenancy may cease to be assured if the tenant ceases to occupy the property as their only or principal home. See Definition of an assured tenancy for more about the 'only and principal home' rule and its application.

If the tenancy terms are varied to a very high or a very low rent, the tenancy may be excluded from being assured.[4] This type of change in the rent may result in the tenant becoming a tenant with basic protection or an excluded occupier.

For social housing tenancies, subletting in breach of an express or implied term of the tenancy. See Social housing fraud for more information about criminal and civil consequences relating to the unauthorised subletting of social housing.[5]

No right to rent

Where the Home Office has served a disqualification from renting notice under section 33D(2) Immigration Act 2014 on the landlord naming all of the occupiers in premises held on an assured tenancy, the tenancy is converted into an excluded tenancy.[6] The landlord may serve no less than 28 days notice in a prescribed form. See Right to rent immigration checks for details.

Last updated: 8 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    Leek and Moorlands Building Society [1952] 2 All ER 492, CA.

  • [2]

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

  • [3]

  • [4]

    paras 2, 2A, 3, 3A and 3B, Sch.1 Housing Act 1988.

  • [5]

    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.

  • [6]

    s.3A(7D) Protection from Eviction Act 1977 inserted by s.40(5) Immigration Act 2016.