Is my tenancy agreement a period one?
Тhis is probably one of the most common questions when it comes to living on rent in London and we as an London end of tenancy cleaning company know a lot about it. Is there a way to break out – saving both your dignity and your deposit? We’ll do our best to give a detailed answer to this question and to get you through almost every possible scenario.
First thing’s first – let’s briefly explain the difference between a period and а fixed term tenancy just in case you are wondering.In short
A periodic tenancy agreement has no end date or a certain set length to it. It is due to a week to week or month to month and continues until either the tenant or the landlord gives written notice to end it. This means that you can end the agreement without the need to pay back the landlord for the time you’re not going to use the provided property.
The most significant difference between both is that a fixed-term tenancy - agreement lasts for a set amount of time – e.g., six months or one year (those are the most common periods in this kind of settlements). This means that you almost certainly will have to pay some sort of compensation if you leave earlier than it has been stated in the settlement.
Now straight to the point – Can you end your fixed term tenancy early?The answer is – you can’t… unless you somehow manage to talk your landlord into it (this case is called a “surrender” - it's not as easy as it sounds even if you used to be in your college’s debate club) or there's a break clause in your agreement.
The best possible decision would be to leave by the last day of the fixed term, when your tenancy ends automatically, even if you don’t give a notice, unless your agreement doesn’t say otherwise. If you’ve signed an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), which is the most common case, your tenancy continues as a periodic tenancy without signing a new agreement. This means that once the pre-signed period ends you’ll be put under conditions of a rolling tenancy with no fixed end date. In this case in order to end it you must give your landlord a valid notice to quit after the fixed term expires. Have in mind that your contract may include a term setting out how much notice you need to give.
Even though common sense may speak for you, if you leave precisely on the end date, we strongly advise you to have things settled by putting them down in black and white. Ask your landlord to confirm the leaving date you stated in writing. This will help avoid misunderstandings and problems later. You never know when some sort of written proof can come in handy… you know, just to be sure and in case your landlord is not exactly the most decent person you’ve met. For example, your former landlord can deduct money for unpaid rent from your tenancy deposit, so it's important you can prove when exactly your tenancy has ended.
The worst possible scenario of the end of the tenancy
The worst possible scenario may leave you not only empty-handed but in debt as well. We can only hope that you’ve carefully read your agreement before signing it. Including the “small print” because otherwise, you might find yourself buried by it. You should keep your eyes wide open, especially if we talk about a long period of time. Often you may find extra clauses in your contract, which may put you in a rather unpleasant situation. Sometimes the tenancy agreement has a section, which states that you need to compensate your landlord for his payment to the lettings agency. It’s a common practice for the landlords to pay in advance a certain percent. This means that you may have to say goodbye not only to your deposit but to some extra cash as well in order to make up for leaving early. Even though you may no longer live in the property, you’re still liable due to your contract, so by all means, you should find a way to negotiate your way out of this with your landlord or the letting agency.
The most favourable scenario
The most favourable scenario would be to have a break clause in your contract. In this case, you’re legally allowed to end your tenancy agreement early. The break clause provides a condition or date whereby you can end your tenancy early. It allows you to end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term. In other words, it provides you with a secure way out but still, there are some rules. The break clause will certainly say how much notice you must give to your landlord and after what period you are allowed to apply it. You may not need your landlord’s permission to use it in your favour but still, you have to be sure that your written notice was received. Have in mind that you can use email to give notice only if your agreements expressly say so.
Ending the tenancy by meeting in the middle
You’re not caught by some extra clause but you don’t have a break one as well so here’s what you can do to leave the property early.
You can only surrender your tenancy if your landlord agrees you can leave before the end date. In order to gain your landlord’s agreement, you should consider to
- Find a new tenant to move in right after you move out
This will at least save the owner hassle and money and will certainly give you some advantage as long as you offer someone reliable instead of simply bring in a random homeless guy.
We hope that owning a silver tongue is among your many qualities, if not, we advise you to mark some bullet points before heading to the conversation with your landlord and to be prepared to make some compromises and to eventually cover some reasonable costs for any rent that the proprietor may lose. It’s not easy to accomplish but it doesn’t hurt to try as well. Have in mind that your landlord is under no obligation to negotiate but you have nothing left to lose and we’re all human beings after all.
In legal terms, the situations stay this way. If both landlord and tenant agree to terminate the tenancy early, then that’s perfectly legal and valid. This is known as ‘Surrender’ and there are two ways to surrender a tenancy.
- Surrender by Operation of the Law
This situation occurs, when the tenant gives up their occupation of the property to the landlord and the landlord accepts it. In this case, the tenant hands over the property’s keys to the landlord, accepting that the agreement is over and that they now have possession.
- Declaration of Surrender
This happens, when the tenant signs a Surrender of Tenancy Letter. This written document acts as proof that the tenant has given up possession of the property to the landlord.
Ending a joint tenancy with a fixed term
When the end for one is the last call for others as wellThe things are hard enough when we have only two persons involved but what happens when you’ve found yourself captured by the terms of a joint tenancy? Let’s make it clear:
You're a joint tenant if there's more than one person named as a tenant in the agreement. In this case, the only way to end a fixed term tenancy early is if all the joint tenants agree to act together.
The tenancy ends on the last day of the fixed term only if all the joint tenants leave on or before this date. But it continues for everyone if any of you stay there without agreeing to a new contract.
After a fixed term ends, any of you can give the needed notice to end the joint tenancy, even if the others don't agree. This would end the tenancy for all the joint tenants.
To reach an agreement with your landlord is hard enough, so we could imagine that it would be like putting up with your ex. Even though it certainly won’t be a pleasant meeting, you have to get through it. We won’t give you any advice on how to act but just try to keep it simple and be grown-ups. Nothing personal, strictly business, although as we know from The Godfather – everything’s personal. We have faith in you, so try your best to be civilized and not to make a scene. It may be water under the bridge but you couldn’t just abandon the ship you’ve both used to live in at once.
Quite the same would be if it’s your former bestie, the one you’ve fought with. Again you should find a way to communicate in order to keep on walking on your separate paths undisturbed by the commitment you’ve made in the past.
There will always be two sides of the story No matter how harsh your situation may be, don’t forget that landlords are people as well. Often the rent may be the most significant income they have and to which they rely on. So before thinking of them like some kind of evil masterminds, who will do just anything to keep your money for themselves, try to see things from their perspective as well.
At least this will help you when it’s time for negotiations. And after all, don’t forget that through all the time you’ve spent in this housing, you’ve always had the certainty that you have somewhere to get back to, a place to call home and a contract that used to make you comfortable. There are always two sides to every coin so think through it and try to put yourself in your landlord’s shoes for instance. From the landlord’s perspective, a deal has been made and it should be honoured.
And if this doesn’t sound right to you, there’s one more thing you should consider:Your renown or keeping a good reputation. Yes, we’ve all heard that you should never bother about what others think of you but if you want to keep on living in the capital, it’s not enough to rely on your bank account.
It’s already hard enough to find a place in London. If you want it to be on a communicative spot – that lowers your chance – something affordable with descent roommates and maybe, just maybe pet-friendly – it’s almost like you’ve just won the lottery. Yet, you will get none of this even a dungeon right beneath the subway if you can’t afford a good recommendation. Try finding a proper place when having bad ones… so no matter how hard it may be, you should do your best when it comes to breaching a contract – because that’s exactly what you’re about to do. A man is only as good as his word – that stands even in the bible – we don’t say that you’re about to burn in the hell of course, but when you’re about to break your promise, do it with dignity. After all, you don’t want to find yourself in the black tenant’s list – don’t you?!
It’s always good to be prepared, so here are your landlords’ options when it comes to letting you be:
- The owner of the property can continue to enforce payments from the tenant, as the tenant is liable until the tenancy is legally terminated.
- Even if the tenant – it this case you - provides a new renter, he or she has to be acceptable to the landlord. Until that time the tenant remains liable.
- The landlord can find a new tenant without your help. In this case, you may be liable for the costs of finding the tenant, which means that you would be the one to pay for advertising, agency fees etc.
- The landlord may allow the tenancy to terminate on the basis of a financial settlement to be made i.e. you’ll have to pay some sort of compensation fee.