Overstaying Tenants – When They Gave Notice To Leave!

So, your tenant has handed their notice, but they’re still on your property, becoming what’s known as overstaying tenants. They have extended their stay past the date they initially gave on their notice.

This will be a trying time for you as a landlord, however, handling it correctly will help mitigate further loss. As frustrating as it is, you cannot simply force the current tenants out, it is illegal and could put them at an advantage by winning a case to stay in the property indefinitely.

When dealing with overstaying tenants, landlords need to understand the legal parameters surrounding the situation.

Rights of Overstaying Tenants

This could be made worse by you having already found new tenants to take over, now very frustrated with you and the whole situation surrounding it.

Depending on how long your existing tenants plan to overstay, or even if they’ve changed their minds completely, you and the new tenants will be at a loose end.

As a worst case, the new tenant can seek compensation for the inconvenience caused by this. It would end up putting them in the same situation, or in an even better one if they can claim the extra to recoup costs incurred with finding alternative accommodation.

The existing tenant’s notice to vacate, for informational purposes, is their intention to leave. Technically the tenancy does not terminate on their notice to vacate date, but only when they officially move out and leave you the keys.

It’s important to remember that for this period they ‘overstay’ in your property, they remain the legal occupier and have the right to the exclusive control and privacy of the property.

Remember, you cannot freely enter yourself, or allow others into the property within this period.

But you are within your rights to look into initiating the eviction procedure if you feel it’s necessary.

Landlords’ Rights and Overstaying Tenants

Initially, get a good grasp of the current tenant’s situation, and what the root cause of the issue is.

A temporary issue, where it’ll be a few days or weeks?

Or is it that they’ve had a change of heart and would like to continue living there long term?

In the latter instance, consider whether it would be simpler to just offer a new tenancy agreement for a fixed term.

Understanding the Distress Of Rent Act for Overstaying Tenants

In the unlikely circumstance that your tenant is failing to communicate efficiently, or both parties aren’t coming to a mutual agreement, have a look into the Distress Of Rent Act (1737) as it could help you.

In simple terms, the act explains that you’re able to charge the tenants double rent for each day they overstay their informed notice period.

To be able to follow this process correctly…

  • You should have received a valid notice to vacate from your tenant and accepted it.
  • The double rent charged should be on a daily basis, only for the period of time the tenant overstays in the property.
  • It isn’t applicable if they have vacated, but just haven’t, or refused to surrender the keys.
  • It also isn’t applicable if the tenant stays in the property following the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement, as it will roll into a periodic agreement, which is entirely acceptable.

To get a better understanding of different types of tenancy agreements, have a look at my article ‘Notice Period to Vacate‘, as it helps give a clearer understanding of the two main types of tenancy agreements, and how they differ.

The circumstances discussed above related to overstaying tenants are quite rare, and if it’s your first time dealing with this type of situation it’d be advised you chat with the Citizens Advice Bureau, or another legal representative to get a clearer understanding of the dos and don’ts surrounding overstaying.