Your tenant leaving their rental property will usually incur a notice period, in which they should give you an advance notice period before leaving the property.
Notice period to vacate
Ensuring they follow the correct procedure to give the notice to vacate is important. If they don’t, they could still be liable for rent, council tax and other bills as a result, even after they move out.
The type of tenancy agreement you have in place will determine how they should give notice, and how long a notice period should be given. In some instances, they may be able to come to an amicable agreement with you to ‘surrender the tenancy’ early, but this is usually on a case-by-case basis entirely on your understanding and preference.
Fixed Term Tenancy Notice Period
They’ll pay rent until at least the end of the fixed term, and if they stay in the property beyond the date, or don’t give the notice period in the right way, they’ll still be liable to continue to pay rent.
The only way you can usually end a fixed-term tenancy early is if it’s stated so in the agreement, or you have a mutual agreement to do so.
A ‘break clause’ is what could be stated in your agreement which allows either party to terminate the contract early. It’ll usually be written when it’ll apply, for example, being able to give 1 month notice period after occupying the property for over 6 months.
You can implement clauses, such as if your tenant falls into rent arrears however they won’t get the privilege to have a break clause. It is imperative both parties understand fully how the clause works, and how to initiate it if necessary.
Periodic Tenancy Notice Period
With a periodic tenancy, your tenant will be able to give the notice to leave at any point through the tenancy. The only responsibility they have is to continue to pay the rent to the point that they vacate at the end of the notice period.
The circumstances in which they’ll be in a periodic tenancy is when they’ve never had a fixed term agreement and it’s worked on a month-by-month basis. Or, if the fixed-term tenancy has ended and a renewed contract hasn’t been signed, in this case, the tenancy will roll on until either party queries otherwise.
Outlining How Your Tenant Gives Notice To Leave
To keep everything clear, outline in the agreement exactly how you expect the notice to vacate to be given to you, ideally by email or postal mail. As good practice, ensure you reply, acknowledging receipt of the information before finally confirming or questioning it.
Contact information for yourself should be easily accessible. Giving your tenants your phone numbers, email addresses, and a correspondence address for yourself too. If you haven’t made this information accessible to your tenants already, you should do so promptly.
Giving Your Tenant Notice To Leave
Most landlords giving their tenants notice to leave is usually a mutually accepted process and causes no distress or issues. Write to your tenants giving them 2 months’ notice to leave, this is usually enough time for them to find another property and move on without the need to rush.
In some cases, your tenant may not leave when you need them to. And if no mutual agreement is made, you can use a Section 21 notice to make them leave.
But to ensure a Section 21 notice is valid, double-check this procedure has been covered…
- Give them two months’ written notice.
- Fill in Form 6A – A notice to seek possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
- Ensure the tenant’s deposit was covered by an approved scheme within 30 days of signing the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement.
- If you haven’t covered their deposit, pay it back in full, as you haven’t fulfilled your obligations.
- Ensure your tenants already have, or if not, give them an up-to-date Gas Safety Certificate, Energy Performance Certificate, and a Government’s How To Rent guide.
A point to note would be if you’ve received an improvement order, emergency works notice by the council, or have an HMO and don’t have the relevant licence, the notice will be invalid.
What If They Still Don’t Move Out After Their Notice Period?!
Well first and foremost, you cannot remove tenants by force, coercion, or manipulation. If the existing notice period has elapsed, you should apply to the courts to start the procedure of the eviction. Yes, if followed correctly it could take a minimum of 7 to 8 months to have the tenants out, and in most cases, this won’t be ideal when you need your property back as soon as possible.
Your next possible step could be to look into an Accelerated Possession Procedure, this allows you to get possession of your property without a hearing. It applies specifically in the case where no dispute has been made by the tenant. The accelerated process is usually a lot faster, and enforcement agents can be deployed to enforce the procedure.
This accelerated procedure is only to gain possession of your property again, the Section 21 procedure will have to be used to ask for a monetary judgement for any rent arrears that are owed by your tenant.