What is the Best Way to End a Tenancy?
Whatever the reason for needing to end the tenancy, what is the best way to go about it?
Landlords can need to end tenancies for a number of reasons, from disputes, damage to the property, or difficult tenant behaviour, to a change in their own circumstances that might necessitate the sale of the rental property.
Whatever the reason for it, ending a tenancy can be a complex matter. We look at some of the steps you might need to take as a landlord of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy when ending a tenancy at your property.
Giving notice to quit during a tenancy
If the decision to end the tenancy is not mutual, you will need to give your tenants formal notice that their tenancy is ending – notice to quit. It is important to dot your I’s and cross your T’s during this process, so you don’t find yourself facing difficulties evicting your tenants later on down the line if things get tricky.
With an assured shorthold tenancy, either fixed term or periodic, you’ll be serving either a Section 8 or a Section 21 notice to quit.
When the period of notice expires for either notice, you can then apply to the court for a possession order if necessary.
Section 8 notices
This notice is used when your tenants have breached the terms of their contract, for example when they are in rent arrears or if they have caused damage to your property or persistently engaged in anti-social behaviour.
When giving a Section 8 notice, you’ll need to do so in writing using either a form 3 from the government webpage, or a letter that includes the same information.
The letter or form will be invalid and your repossession of your property could take longer if you don’t include:
- Your tenants name
- The address of your rental property
- Valid ‘grounds for possession’
- The date your notice ends
Be sure to double check you’ve included these details correctly.
Section 21 notices
Section 21 notices are used for ‘no fault’ evictions, when the landlord simply wants to take back the property for personal reasons.
With these notices you will need to fill out form 6a and deliver it to your tenant in a way that can be recorded. For example, you could deliver the form by post, e-mail or in person. If you do this in person, you will need a witness who can verify that you handed the notice to your tenant or posted it at their address.
If you want to serve a Section 21 notice you will also have to have previously (amongst other things):
- Provided your tenant with a How to Rent booklet and a Gas Safety Certificate
- Have given the tenant a valid Gas Safety Certificate, EICR and EPC
- Have deposited their deposit in an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme
You can’t issue a Section 21 notice earlier than four months into an assured shorthold tenancy and if it’s a fixed term tenancy, your tenants won’t be obligated to leave until the fixed period is over.
Surrendering a tenancy
There will be times when tenants and landlords are in agreement about a tenancy ending early, and in these instances mutually surrendering a tenancy is the simplest route to take.
An express surrender is when both parties agree to the end of the tenancy and put it in writing in a deed of surrender, which, as well as all the basic details being present and correct, must also include:
- The terms under which the agreement ends and the new date of the end of the tenancy
- If any further payments are due from the tenants, such as further rent payments, money to be removed from the deposit, etc
- The signatures of both landlord and tenants, and witnesses for both parties
Keeping a paper trail
When ending a tenancy early, it’s really important that all aspects of the process are recorded in case of future disputes.
In the case of Section 8 evictions, evidence of breach of contract from your tenant will be very helpful if your tenant disputes your claims.
In any process of ending a tenancy early, keeping copies of documents such as notices and forms is key, as is recording evidence of when the paperwork was served to your tenant, using methods such as a postal record, email receipt or engaging reliable witnesses if you are serving notices or signing deeds in person.
Whatever the reasons behind it, ending a tenancy can be a complex matter. This article gives you a general overview, but does not constitute legal advice, we always advise landlords to seek professional legal advice on their specific situation.