Terminating A Tenancy Early – A Landlords Guide

There are very few circumstances in which a tenancy can be terminated early by the landlord. When you sign a tenancy agreement, you enter into a binding contract with your tenant. In most cases, this means that your tenants are entitled to stay put until the agreement expires.

However, there are a small number of cases in which it may be possible to terminate a tenancy early.

Terminating a tenancy early - a landlord's guide

Terminating a tenancy with a break clause

Some landlords (and indeed some tenants) wish to include a ‘break clause’ in a tenancy – that is, a date on which the tenancy can be ended by either party without penalty. If you have a break clause, after that date you can give your tenants notice to leave. However, break clauses are not permitted within the first six months of a tenancy.

Terminating a tenancy because of non-payment of rent

If your tenant is in arrears, the Housing Act 1988 gives you the right to seek possession of your property. However, the process is not simple. Evicting a tenant can be a lengthy and complicated task. It begins with the landlord serving the tenant a Section 8 notice seeking possession. You will generally have to give at least two months’ notice under Section 8, but in some cases this period can be as little as two weeks. The tenant may choose to leave of their own accord at this point. However, if they do not, you will need to seek a possession order from the courts. There are two main ways to do this; look out for a guide to seeking possession on Ideal Flatmate soon.

Terminating a tenancy because of illegal activity

The Housing Act 1988 also gives landlords the right to seek possession in the event that the tenant has been using the property for illegal purposes, for example to sell drugs. Again, the landlord must use a Section 8 notice to do this.

Terminating the tenancy of a lodger or housemate

If you have a lodger with whom you share rooms, for example a kitchen, it is likely that the agreement will be what’s known as an ‘excluded tenancy’. In these cases the process is much easier from a landlord’s perspective. In order to terminate an excluded tenancy, the landlord must simply give the lodger ‘reasonable notice’ to leave. Generally, reasonable notice is deemed to be the same as the period over which rent is paid – for example, if rent is paid monthly, you should give a month’s notice, or if it it paid weekly you may only have to give notice of a week.

Terminating a tenancy early because a tenant wants to leave

Just as a landlord has responsibilities throughout a tenancy, when the tenant signs the agreement they become liable for the rent for the entire period of the tenancy.

However, there are many cases in which tenants wish to leave a property early, for example because of a change of personal circumstances. In these cases, the tenancy can be ended at any point provided that the landlord agrees.

Understand the law and stick to it

As we’ve seen, there are very few circumstances in which a landlord can require a tenant to leave before the end of an agreed tenancy. You cannot simply ask a tenant to leave just because it suits you, for example because you wish to sell the property. Similarly, you should remember that there are strict rules around when a landlord can increase the rent

It is worth remembering that rules governing landlords’ behaviour appear to have been more strictly enforced in recent years. Make sure you understand your responsibilities in order to stay on the right side of the law.

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