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Residential tenancies are now generally Assured Shorthold Tenancies where there is an initial fixed-term of say, 6 months or 12 months, followed either by a new agreement for another fixed-term, or in its absence a Statutory Periodic Tenancy.
A periodic tenancy automatically follows the fixed-term if the parties do nothing (i.e. they do not sign another agreement) and the tenancy will be on the same basis as the original agreement, with all the same clauses and conditions being operative.
Tenants should realise that the fixed-term commitment is in fact a contract. They are committed to stay the full term, or, if they leave early, to pay the full fixed-term rent unless an agreement has been reached with the Landlord.
Where the tenancy has become a Statutory Periodic Tenancy (where the fixed-term has ended and no new agreement signed for another fixed-term) the tenant must give the landlord notice if he wants to leave:
The notice period must end at the end of a tenancy payment period: for example, if the rent payment date is on the 25th of each month, the notice period must end on the 24th of the month. Rent is usually payable for the month from the tenancy start date therefore a tenancy starting on the 25th will be deemed to run from the 25th – 24th of each month.
The tenancy agreement cannot change these basic rules.
Tenants needing to terminate and leave early from a fixed term tenancy may negotiate with their landlord to be released from their contract, but this is a matter for personal agreement between landlord and tenant. Such agreement would usually result in the Tenant paying the cost of finding a replacement Tenant and any rent due up to the move in date.
To end a shorthold tenancy the landlord must give at least two months’ notice under Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act.
The notice cannot take effect for at least six months or until the original agreed fixed term has expired.
Where the tenancy has become a periodic one the notice given must expire on the last day of a rent period. For example, if a monthly periodic tenancy rent day is the 25th of the month, the two month notice period must end on the 24th of the month in question.
There is nothing to say you cannot give more than two months’ notice. Therefore a Landlord could service a two month Section 21 notice soon after the granting of a six month term to take effect at the end of that term. Some Agents do adopt this process, but we firmly believe that this is counter-productive as it could be seen by the Tenant as a short term let, whereas both parties may really want the security of a longer term.