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Frequently asked questions

tenancy A-Z

Also check out the Tenancy A-Z for more information.

Ending tenancies frequently asked questions

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  1. How much notice do I need to give to end a tenancy?
  2. How much notice do I have to give to evict a flatmate or a boarder?
  3. How do I end a fixed-term tenancy early?
  4. What happens if I remain in the property after the fixed-term tenancy ends?

How much notice do I need to give to end a tenancy?

The amount of notice that needs to be given to end a tenancy will depend on the type of tenancy agreement made between the landlord and the tenant and the circumstances at the time.

Fixed-term tenancies are for a specific length of time and cannot be ended by notice during the term of the tenancy.

A fixed term tenancy automatically becomes periodic tenancies upon expiry of the fixed term. To prevent the fixed term tenancy becoming a periodic tenancy, either party may give notice to the other that they wish to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term. This notice must be given no more than 90 days and no less than 21 days before the expiry date.

Periodic tenancies, service tenancies and boarding house tenancies can be ended with notice.

Periodic tenancies

To end a periodic tenancy a landlord can give a tenant a minimum of 42 days’ written notice if:

  1. they have an unconditional agreement for sale and purchase of the premises that requires vacant possession be given to the purchaser.
  2. they require the property as a principal place of residence for the owner or any member of the owner's family. This cannot be for a holiday, a weekend retreat, or to renovate the property while retaining a home elsewhere.
  3. they wish to use the property to house an employee and the tenancy agreement with the tenant states that they might use the property for this purpose.

The reason must be included in the notice.

In all other cases the landlord must give the tenant a minimum of 90 days’ notice to terminate a periodic tenancy. No reason needs to be given to the tenant in a 90 days’ written notice to terminate.

If the tenant wants to end the tenancy, the tenant should give a minimum of 21 days’ written notice, unless the landlord agrees to accept a shorter period. The tenant cannot be required to give a longer period of notice, regardless of what may be in their tenancy agreement.

Students in tenancy arrangements with Institutions (as defined by the Education Act 1989) may terminate the tenancy on 14 days’ written notice if the tenant is no longer eligible for the tenancy.

Notice to terminate a tenancy can be given on any day of any week to end on any day of any week regardless of when rent is normally paid, or the period that it usually covers.

When serving notices to terminate a tenancy, the landlord and tenant should take into account the time required to correctly serve the notices.

Service tenancies

The notice periods for periodic tenancies may also apply to a service tenancy where the employment of the tenant has not ended. Before giving a termination notice to a tenant on a service tenancy, the landlord should check their employment contract with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as service tenancies are linked to an employee’s contract of employment. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment can be phoned on 0800 20 90 20.

Where an employee’s service has been terminated or notice to terminate their contract of service has been given, the minimum notice period to terminate a service tenancy is 14 days.

If the service tenancy is also a boarding house tenancy the tenant can end the service tenancy by 48 hours’ written or oral notice but the landlord must still give the tenant 14 days’ written notice.

To find out more about what notice periods would apply, contact us on 0800 83 62 62.

Boarding House tenancies

A tenant can terminate a boarding house tenancy by giving 48 hours’ written or oral notice to the landlord.

A landlord wishing to terminate a boarding house tenancy without giving any reason to the tenant can do so by giving the tenant 28 days’ written notice. There are certain situations where less notice is required.

Retaliatory Notices

A landlord cannot issue a notice to terminate a tenancy in retaliation for any complaint against the landlord, or by the exercise or proposed exercise of any right, power or authority that is conferred on the tenant by the tenancy agreement, the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 or any other enactment.

Where the landlord does issue a retaliatory notice, the tenant can apply, within 14 working days after they received the notice, to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the notice set aside.

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How much notice do I have to give to evict a flatmate or a boarder?

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 covers the relationship between landlords and tenants for residential tenancies that fall within the jurisdiction of the Act. It does not deal with disputes between flat mates or boarders in premises which are not boarding houses

The Citizens Advice Bureaux [External website].  can offer advice on flat mate or boarder issues in non boarding house tenancies.

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How do I end a fixed-term tenancy early?

Fixed-term tenancies are for a specific length of time and cannot be ended with notice during the term.

They can be ended early by the mutual agreement of all of the parties to the tenancy agreement, or, if agreed to by the landlord, by assigning the tenant’s interest in the tenancy to someone else.

The Tenancy Tribunal may terminate a fixed-term tenancy where there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and it would not be equitable to allow the tenancy to continue.

It may also terminate the tenancy where the landlord or tenant has suffered a serious unforeseen change in circumstances which would cause them hardship to continue with the tenancy, and greater hardship than would be caused to the other party to the tenancy by ending the tenancy early. Where the tenancy is ended early, compensation may be awarded to the other party.

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What happens if I remain in the property after the fixed-term tenancy ends?

Sometimes a landlord and tenant carry on the tenancy relationship after the expiry of the fixed term. If the fixed term tenancy was for 90 days or more it automatically becomes a periodic tenancy on the expiry of the fixed term unless contrary notice of a different arrangement is given.

If the fixed term tenancy contained a right for the tenant to renew or extend the fixed-term tenancy, the tenant has to notify the landlord that they want to renew/extend the fixed-term tenancy no later than 21 days before the end of the fixed term.
In other cases, either party may give notice not to continue the fixed term tenancy. That notice needs to be given at least 21 days before the expiry of the fixed term and no sooner than 90 days before the expiry of the fixed term.

Where a fixed term tenancy expires and automatically becomes a periodic tenancy, the parties then need to observe the rules for terminating periodic tenancies.

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