End of tenancy questions

Hi there, I hope people can help me with my query.

Just for background : We told our tenants about a month ago that we intended to sell the flat this year (we did not give them formal notice). They have been excellent tenants. They are on a rolling tenancy. Their tenancy started on 28th November 2019. The EPC expired in November 2023.

We said that if they found somewhere and needed to move into it, we would not insist on them staying for the required month’s notice. It was agreed that they would try to find somewhere asap as they are getting married in September and wanted the move well out of they way before that.

Today we have had a message from them to say they have found a house and been approved for it, and can have the keys on the 21st February and their last day in the flat would be 26th February.

What are my next steps? I don’t know if they have to formally relinquish the tenancy (as they are not serving a month’s notice), or whether we can just end it by mutual consent . Or do I have to give them formal notice? Also none of Openrent’s options for ending the tenancy seem to apply.

I believe I can release their deposit once we have had a ‘checkout’. Is this correct, or do they have to request it?

Thanks in advance, any (polite) advice welcomed.

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wow… you seem to have got lucky that everything has gone your way so far. For example, not giving them formal notice (i.e. Section 21) means that they can stay there as long as they like and that could have made your plan to sell impossible.

Assuming you are correct that they have a periodic tenancy and that no one cares if notice is given or not (!) then just let them go and get keys off them on the day they want to leave. You don’t sound like someone who is bothered by formalities anyway so as long as you get the keys back on the day you expect to, no worries. If you do now want to do things formally, you could sign a deed of surrender, but you’ll need that witnessed to be valid.

It’s up to you to release the deposit less anything agreed for damage etc. But that’s assuming you have an inventory. If not, then you can’t back up any claim there has been any damage so will be giving it back in full. You do that via the portal of whichever scheme you used to protect the deposit.

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We were going to give them formal notice in April if they hadn’t moved by then. Mutual agreement. They do have a periodic tenancy… They had an initial six month one at the beginning of the tenancy, which was just allowed to roll over at the end of the six months.

We do have an inventory, done through OpenRent at the beginning of the tenancy.

Thank you for your information, especially concerning the return of the deposit. We will do a ‘final inspection’ before they move out but as we only did one a couple of months ago and all was fine, I doubt whether we will find any reason to withhold any of the deposit.

I will get them to sign saying they have vacated the flat on such-and-such a date and a forwarding address.

I

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You need to source a deed of surrender document and get it signed at the moment they move out by them, you and a witness.

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Express surrender

An express surrender is where landlord and tenant both sign a legal document that states that the tenancy will end by surrender. Express surrender is made by deed. The deed must be signed by both landlord and tenant. Both signatures must be witnessed.

The written agreement must make it clear that it is a deed and set out that the tenancy will come to an end with immediate effect.

Implied surrender

A surrender of the tenancy can be implied by the actions of the landlord and tenant. This is also referred to as surrender by operation of law.

There must be an unequivocal act or series of acts, by tenant and landlord, that are inconsistent with the continuation of the tenancy.

The actions of both landlord and tenant must amount to an acceptance that the tenancy has ended. For example, if the landlord and tenant agree that the tenancy will end and the tenant returns possession to the landlord.

  • If you have an exchange of email or written communication about them ending the tenancy and moving out, and then they hand back keys, this would be an implied surrender. If you have only done stuff verbally, I’d get something in writing.
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Thanks for the replies.

We have communicated by Messenger. The dates they are intending to leave are mentioned there, so is the fact that there will be a formal checkout on the 26th and that they will hand us the keys back on the 26th. There is also mentioned our agreement to these arrangements, and some further discussion.

I feel this may be enough for the ‘implied surrender’ mentioned above.

Thanks again all.

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Get a formal letter from them ending the tenancy. Ask them to date it a month before they move out. In return give them a formal letter acknowledging it and keep a copy. It keeps everyone right.

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People are making this into something it doesn’t need to.

You have them sending you a date they would like to move out by e-mail? You have accepted it via e-mail.

When they have moved out, cleaned and returned the keys to you you ask them to initiate a return of the deposit.

This completes the matter.

I have never done any of what people suggest with any tenants (I’ve been very lucky!)

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Yes, and most of the time, with decent tenants, you will be lucky and won’t need any of these measures. As with all legal recommendations, they are there for the one time that you’re unlucky and get a tenant who decides to sue you for unlawful eviction because they changed their mind about leaving, which they’re allowed to do if they haven’t served a formal Notice to Quit or signed a deed of surrender.

I appreciate David 122’s cautionary view, but if they’ve handed the keys back and initiated the refund of their bond, cancelled their council tax etc. I see no issue.

Neither have I Per.

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The flat is now empty and they are handing in their keys on Monday.

The flat just needs a coat of paint in one room and a bit of cleaning in the ensuite.

We will do that tomorrow (we have permission to do so). An Estate Agent is valuing it on Monday and it will go up for sale as soon as possible after that.

Thank you all for your help.