Handing back flat keys at end of tenancy but still liable for rent?

I’ve got multiple concerns which the various advice websites don’t quite seem to help so hoping the community here can.

I’ve had a statutory periodic tenancy since 2nd July 2019. I have now moved in with my partner so I gave 1 month notice mid-November but was told that I could only give notice on my usual rent-due day so would be liable to Jan 2022. I negotiated an earlier release with agent and landlord where if I move my stuff out (already done) , get an end of tenancy professional clean and then hand over the keys as soon as possible they would look to get a new tenant in before 2nd Jan. They said they could only get workmen in to do some repairs once I’d done this.

I’m uneasy about handing back keys when I’m still responsible for and paying for the flat as well as utilities. Is what they suggest common or good practice?

Also, on a separate issue, The statutory periodic tenancy I now have came into being when a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy ended. At the time the agent called to negotiate a renewal. I agreed to a new FT tenancy up to July 2021 with same terms except a slight rent increase. The agent charged a £150 fee but the contract was never drawn up!. I also think it was an illegal payment anyway given the law change a month before. I’m going to ask for this back but should I ask for interest as well and should I also report them to Trading Standards even if they do refund me for the illegal payment?

They’re right about having to give notice to expire at the end of a rent period, provided that your tenancy agreement doesn’t say otherwise. It doesn’t sound like they’re promising anything as there is no certainly they can get someone in before then, but if they can it might save you a few quid.

Yes, you should ask for the fee to be refunded. At current interest rates I would suggest its not worth asking for interest as its probably pennies and its better to avoid the hassle.

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If you are worried about what they suggest get it in writing.