This is a question to the blog clinic from Jo, who is a tenant in England.
My fixed term of 6 months is up shortly. It will then become a periodic contractual agreement. It states that
“The tenant may bring the tenancy to an end at, or at any time after the expiry of the fixed term by giving the landlord at least one month’s written notice stating that the Tenant wishes to vacate the property. A letter will suffice to implement this sub-clause. While the tenancy is periodic, the one months notice must expire the day before a Rent Due Date.”
I am still currently in the fixed period.
I have read much advice that doesn’t seem consistent. Do I have to serve notice ? ( I gave notice yesterday that I intend to leave at the end of the fixed period that I paid for in one go up front and in full). If I can’t serve notice before the end of the fixed period, then this is a 7 month contract and seems an unfair contract. I expressly asked for a 6 months contract. But my tenancy agreement doesn’t state what I should do if I don’t want to remain after the fixed period.
The landlady has said that I must stay and pay until a month after the end of the fixed term. What is correct?
The answer is that if you have left by the time the fixed term ends, then the tenancy will end. Your landlady is incorrect.
In fact, a tenancy will ALWAYS end at the end of the fixed term. The landlord cannot prevent this – the tenancy was only ever created for the fixed term period. When this comes to an end, the tenancy (or lease – effectively, tenancies and leases are the same thing, we just tend to use the word ‘lease’ for longer leases) will end under what the lawyers call ‘effluxion of time’.
If the tenant is still in occupation after the fixed term ends, then in most cases, a new tenancy will be created. If no new tenancy agreement or renewal form has been signed, this will be a periodic tenancy . For an AST, this will be under section 5 of the Housing Act 1988. This periodic tenancy can be ended by a tenant’s Notice to Quit as described in your tenancy agreement.
If the tenant is NOT in occupation at the end of the fixed term, then this will not happen. The tenancy will just end.
Landlords tend to be a bit unhappy about this rule as, understandably, they want to know when tenants are going to vacate. For example, they will need to arrange for the property to be inspected and so on. Which is why they want a tenancy agreement clause requiring notice in the tenancy agreement.
However, if the tenant has left by the end of the fixed term, there is actually no need for any notice. The tenancy was always going to end at that time. So, any clause in the tenancy agreement requiring this will be void (under the Unfair Terms rules, now found in the Consumer Right Act 2015). The clause about giving notice for a periodic tenancy will only be relevant if a periodic tenancy is created.
But, although it is not legally necessary to give notice if you are going to leave at the end of the fixed term, it is a polite and courteous thing to do, and I would recommend that you do this.
The post What should a tenant do if he wants to leave at the end of the fixed term? appeared first on The Landlord Law Blog.