A Tenant's Guide to Ending a Tenancy Agreement

Ending a tenancy can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you're moving for a new job, downsizing, or simply looking for a change, knowing the right steps to take can make the process smooth and stress-free. This guide is designed to help you, as a tenant, understand how to end your tenancy agreement correctly.

Understanding Your Tenancy Type

First and foremost, identify the type of tenancy you have. This determines the notice period required and the steps you need to follow. The two main types of tenancies are fixed-term and periodic.

Fixed-term Tenancy

A fixed-term tenancy runs for a specified period, usually six months to a year. After this period, it may automatically become a periodic tenancy unless you inform your landlord of your intention to move out. The key characteristic of a fixed-term tenancy is that it has a clear start and end date.

Periodic Tenancy

A periodic tenancy, also known as a rolling contract, operates on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis. It doesn’t have a specified end date and continues until either the tenant or landlord gives notice to terminate the agreement.

Knowing Your Notice Period

Before making any decisions, it's crucial to understand the notice period required for your tenancy type. This will help you avoid potential pitfalls like being without a place to live or incurring additional costs.

Fixed-term Tenancy with a Break Clause

If your tenancy agreement includes a break clause, it means you can end your fixed-term tenancy early under certain conditions. Review your agreement carefully to understand when the break clause applies and any specific requirements.

For example, if your tenancy runs from November to November and includes a break clause allowing you to terminate after six months with one month's notice, you could move out in April by giving notice in March. Some break clauses may stipulate that you have no rent arrears or meet other conditions, so be sure to check the details.

Fixed-term Tenancy without a Break Clause

If your fixed-term tenancy lacks a break clause, you generally cannot end the tenancy early without your landlord's written permission. In this scenario, you don’t need to give notice to leave on the last day of your fixed term, but its good practice to inform your landlord to ensure a smooth handover and the prompt return of your deposit.

Periodic Tenancy if You Live with Your Landlord

If you share the property with your landlord, you can either mutually agree on a move-out date or follow the notice period stipulated in your agreement. This period can be flexible based on what you and your landlord agree upon.

Periodic Tenancy if You Don’t Live with Your Landlord

For periodic tenancies where you do not live with your landlord, you can end the tenancy at any time by giving notice. Typically, this is four weeks for week-to-week tenancies and one month for month-to-month tenancies. If your rental period is longer, the notice period must match the length of your rental period. For instance, if you pay rent every three months, you need to give three months’ notice.

Giving Notice to Your Landlord

Knowing how to properly give notice is essential. Your notice must be in writing and should clearly state your intention to end the tenancy, the date you will move out, and any other relevant details.

Example of an End of Tenancy Letter

Here’s an example of what your end of tenancy letter might look like:

“Dear [Landlord’s Name],

I am giving [period of notice] notice to end my tenancy, as required by law. I will be leaving the property on [date]. I would like you to be at the property on the day I move out to check the premises and so I can return the keys to you. I also need you to return my tenancy deposit of [state amount].

Best regards, [Your Name]”

Make sure to keep a dated copy of this letter for your records. This documentation can be crucial if there are any disputes about the notice period or condition of the property.

Handling a Difficult Landlord

Sometimes, landlords may not fulfil their obligations, such as making necessary repairs or maintaining the property. While it can be tempting to leave immediately, it's important to follow the correct process to avoid legal issues. Document any issues and communicate them to your landlord in writing. If the problems persist, you may have grounds to terminate the tenancy early, but seek legal advice or contact Citizens Advice for guidance.

Joint Tenancies

Ending a joint tenancy can be more complicated. All tenants must agree to terminate the tenancy early, and you can either use a break clause or negotiate with the landlord. If some tenants wish to stay, finding a replacement tenant can be an option, but this requires agreement from all parties and might necessitate a new joint tenancy agreement.

Leaving Without Giving Notice

Leaving without giving proper notice can have serious consequences. Your tenancy doesn’t automatically end, and you may still be liable for rent and other bills like energy and council tax. Your landlord can also take legal action to recover unpaid rent, including court costs. Additionally, you risk losing your deposit, which could be crucial for securing your next home.

Leaving at the End of Your Fixed Term

While you don’t need to give notice to leave on the last day of your fixed term (unless specified in your agreement), its courteous and beneficial to inform your landlord. This communication can help ensure a smooth handover, prompt return of your deposit, and a positive reference for future rentals.

Preparing for Moving Out

Moving can be stressful, but preparation can make it easier. Here are some key steps to take before you move out:

  • Clean the Property: Ensure the property is clean and in the same condition as when you moved in, excluding normal wear and tear. This includes carpets, windows, and any appliances that came with the property.
  • Return Furniture: If the property came furnished, ensure all items are present and in good condition.
  • Pay Outstanding Bills: Settle all utility bills and inform the providers of your move-out date. Redirect your mail to your new address to avoid missing important documents.
  • Check for Damages: Make any necessary repairs or replacements for damages that exceed normal wear and tear. Document the property’s condition with photos.

Moving Out Checklist

  • Clean the property thoroughly.
  • Return any borrowed furniture or appliances.
  • Settle all utility bills and inform providers.
  • Redirect mail to your new address.
  • Document the condition of the property with photos.

Looking to Rent Another Property in Your Area?

If you're planning to move and need a new place to rent, Felicity J. Lord can assist you. Our expert estate agents use their local knowledge to find properties that fit your budget and needs. Explore our renting process and get in touch to learn more about your rights as a tenant and the responsibilities you have under your new tenancy agreement.

Additional Tips for Tenants

  • Stay Informed: Regularly review your tenancy agreement and stay informed about your rights and responsibilities.
  • Communicate: Maintain open and clear communication with your landlord. This can help resolve issues quickly and amicably.
  • Plan Ahead: Start planning your move early to avoid last-minute stress. This includes packing, arranging for movers, and notifying relevant parties of your new address.
  • Know Your Rights: Understand the legal protections available to you as a tenant. This includes knowing when you can withhold rent for repairs and how to report issues to your local council or housing authority.

Seeking Help and Advice

If you encounter difficulties with your landlord or need advice on your rights and responsibilities, several resources are available:

  • Citizens Advice: Offers free, confidential advice on housing issues.
  • Shelter: Provides information and support for tenants facing housing problems.
  • Local Council: Can assist with issues related to housing standards and tenant rights.


Ending a tenancy agreement doesn’t have to be a daunting process. By understanding the type of tenancy you have, knowing the notice period required, and following the proper procedures, you can ensure a smooth transition out of your current home. Keep open lines of communication with your landlord, document everything, and plan ahead to make your move as stress-free as possible.

If you’re looking for a new rental property, Felicity J. Lord is here to help you find the perfect home. With our expertise and local knowledge, we can guide you through the renting process and ensure you know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

Remember, staying informed and prepared is key to successfully ending your tenancy and moving on to your next adventure.