Managing and ending a tenancy is not as straightforward as it may first seem. There is regulation in place to protect both landlords and tenants alike so it’s important to understand the legal obligations and to stick to these to avoid disputes or court action.
Giving Notice to End a Tenancy
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, if you want to end a tenancy, you must give the correct notice. From a landlord’s perspective, legally you have to give two months’ notice in writing to end the tenancy in the format of a Section 21 Notice.
You must also give the date when the tenancy is to end in line with terms and conditions of the tenancy and the notice must be signed by the person giving notice (ie the landlord or his agent).
Please note, you cannot give notice to end a fixed-term tenancy early but you can serve notice during a tenancy to coincide with the end of the tenancy date (ie two months’ notice). For example, you can give notice in month three for the tenancy to end in month six.
The tenant cannot give notice to leave within a fixed term tenancy but should give one month’s notice to vacate the property at the end of the term.
However if the tenancy is periodic (ie it runs from month to month), the landlord notice period must be two months in line with the tenancy dates. For example, if the tenancy starts on 10th June, then the landlord must serve notice on the tenant on the 10th day of any given month for the end of the tenancy to come into effect two months later. Similarly, a tenant must give the landlord 1 month’s notice to leave in writing on the anniversary date. If the landlord doesn’t receive the notice period in time, then the landlord can claim a month’s rent from the tenant’s deposit.
If there are multiple tenants on the lease, then all must be named in the Section 21 Notice.
Change of Landlord or Tenant
Sometimes during a tenancy the landlord changes and a new landlord takes over. Should this occur, then the tenancy simply transfers over to the new landlord and all other details and agreements remain the same.
Tenants can only change the contract through the mutual consent of both parties at the end of a fixed tenancy.
End of Tenancy Checklist
When a tenancy is coming to an end, both landlords and tenants can help things go smoothly before and on the final day of the tenancy.
If the house is going to be re-rented after the tenant moves out, the landlord may want to show potential tenants through the house before the final day of the tenancy.
To do this, the landlord must have the tenant’s permission. Tenants can’t unreasonably withhold permission, but they can set reasonable conditions. For example, they may limit access to certain times of day or days of the week. This is because the tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of their home.
The landlord and tenant should arrange a time for a final property inspection at the end of a tenancy. Most landlords will want to do a final inspection before they agree to refund the bond.
It’s best for the final inspection to take place once the tenants have moved all their belongings out and finished cleaning the property (inside and outside).
It is important that the tenants should have their deposit back or the reasons explained to them if there ae going to be any deductions within 14 days of the end of the tenancy.
Hannah McCartan, MD of Swansea-based McCartan Lettings, explains the importance of carrying out a full property inspection for the benefit of both landlords and tenants alike:
Final Inspection Report
The landlord should fill in a final inspection report which is part of the tenancy agreement.
Photos are useful for recording the condition of the property. Compare the final property inspection report with the initial property inspection report (from the beginning of the tenancy). This will show whether any damage has occurred during the tenancy.
Final report need to relate directly to the initial report. Ideally it should be carried out with the tenant present so you can both agree on the condition of the property at that point. If both parties don’t agree then evidence needs to be submitted to the landlord’s deposit protection scheme who will act as an independent adjudicator to assess whether the claim is fair or not.
Each party should sign the final report to show they agree with what it says. They should each keep a copy.
If the landlord and tenant can’t do a final inspection together, each should do their own. It’s advisable to take photos.
Points for a Landlord to Consider
Officially a tenancy days start and end at midnight. Don’t demand tenants to leave before midnight on the last day of a tenancy, try to negotiate a time that works for both of you and get it in writing.
Before the tenant leaves, it is advisory to do a property inspection a few weeks before the final day of the tenancy. Then you can ask the tenant to sort out anything they need to before they leave (for example, fix any damage they’ve caused).
Next, write to the tenant. Tell them in writing how much rent they still need to pay and what their responsibilities are at the end of the tenancy. Let them know a final property inspection needs to take place before the bond is refunded.
Take copies of the key tenancy documents with you to the final inspection in case they’re needed. This includes the tenancy agreement, the initial property inspection report, and a rent summary.
If the tenant’s left any items behind, photograph it and make a detailed list. Follow the correct legal procedure for dealing with abandoned goods.
This final inspection should be a written report supported by photos.
Allow time between tenancies for carrying out maintenance and any extra cleaning you may want to do.
Sometimes a tenant moves out without giving the correct notice, or leaves goods behind. If this happens you need to know what you can do about it and what processes you need to follow.
As you can see, there’s more to ending a tenancy than many landlords first realise. From a legal perspective, there are key obligations that a landlord has to meet. Importantly, there are other points to consider and actions required in order to protect the landlord’s property, particularly if the plan is to continue to rent it out.
The team at McCartan Lettings offer a comprehensive end of tenancy service to local landlords who are daunted by the prospect of managing this process themselves. Managing the end of tenancy is also part of McCartan Lettings’ comprehensive and professional fully managed service for landlords.
For further information, call us today on 01792 430100.