Ending a Residential Tenancy

There are the following ways in which a residential tenancy will come to an end:

End of Term:

Where the Landlord and the Tenant have agreed upon a fixed term tenancy and the fixed term has come to an end, the tenancy will also come to an end.


Surrender occurs when there is a mutual agreement between the Landlord and the Tenant that the tenancy agreement will come to an end. Surrender can take place in the following ways:

  • Express Surrender
    This involves the Tenant signing a legal document known as a Declaration of Surrender, confirming his intention to end the tenancy.
  • By Operation of Law
    This involves both the Landlord and the Tenant, by means of their conduct, indicating that they intend the tenancy to come to an end. It is important that both parties have shown by their conduct that they intend to end the tenancy. Examples include the handing over and acceptance of the keys to the Property, the removal of furniture and personal effects by the Tenant, etc.

Although it is not necessary to record the mutual agreement to end a tenancy in writing, it is always best to do so. This will avoid any possibility of the Tenant accusing the Landlord of unlawful eviction.

Break Clauses:

A break clause is a provision in the tenancy agreement allowing the tenancy to be terminated before the expiry of the initial fixed term by either the Landlord or the Tenant.

In terms of the Housing Act 1988, the break clause cannot be used before the expiry of the first 6 months of the tenancy.

It is standard procedure to provide at least 2 months' written notice when utilising the break clause.


Either of the parties can end the tenancy by providing adequate written notice to the other party.

Where the notice period has been provided for in the tenancy agreement, the terms of this agreement must be adhered to. For more information on tenancy agreements, see The AST Agreement.

Where there is a break clause in the tenancy agreement, 2 months' written notice is required to be given in order to utilise the break clause. For more information on break clauses, see Break Clauses.

Where the time period on a fixed term tenancy has expired, no notice is required for the tenancy to come to an end. Where there is a periodic tenancy in place, or a fixed term tenancy has become a periodic tenancy due to the initial fixed term having expired, 4 weeks' written notice is required for a weekly tenancy, whilst one calendar months' written notice is required for a monthly tenancy. Where the rental period is for a longer period, the notice period must be equivalent to the rental period. For example, where the rent is paid every 2 months, a notice period of 2 months will be required to be given. For more information on fixed and periodic tenancies, see Residential Tenancy Law.

Repossession: Section 8 Notice:

Where a Landlord wishes to terminate the tenancy before the fixed term has come to an end, and usually due to the Tenant defaulting on the terms of the tenancy agreement, the Landlord may serve a Section 8 Notice on the Tenant, provided that certain grounds for possession have been met. For more information on Section 8 Notices and the Grounds for Possession, see Section 8 Notices.

Repossession: Section 21 Notice

Where a Tenant refuses to leave the Property at the end of a tenancy and the Landlord wishes to obtain possession of the Property, the Landlord must follow the correct legal procedure for possession and issue a Section 21 Notice. For more information on Section 21 Notices, see Section 21 Notices.


Abandonment is when the Tenant gives up occupation of the Property. Great care must be taken in these circumstances that abandonment has actually occurred, rather than a mere temporary absence from the property.

Should the Landlord incorrectly assume that abandonment has occurred, proceedings for unlawful eviction could be brought against the Landlord. Where the Landlord is in doubt, the tenancy should be terminated using another method of termination of tenancy.

Factors to determine whether or not the Tenant has in fact abandoned the Property will differ from case to case, but sufficient evidence should be obtained to ascertain whether or not this is the case. Examples of such evidence include the removal of the Tenant's furniture and other personal effects, information from neighbours, etc.

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