Tenant ends an assured tenancy

An assured tenancy can be ended by the landlord regaining possession, tenant giving up the tenancy or if the tenancy stops being assured.

This content applies to England

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]

Notice to quit

A notice to quit by the tenant does 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 is bound by the terms of the agreement until it expires.

Leave on the last day

Normally, the tenant can leave on the last day of a fixed-term tenancy without giving notice, and this ends 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 is created, 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 a specified period before the last day if they 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 they incur.

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. They are 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 applies:

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.

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.

Last updated: 8 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [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]

    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.