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Leaving at end of fixed term tenancy with less notice than contract - concerned about deposit

Hi there,

I’m hoping someone can offer some advice. I am currently just over one month from the end of a fixed-term under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (ending on 10th January 2021). We have not signed any renewal agreements, just said to the landlord we are considering moving out, possibly in early Feb. Our contract says that we have to give the landlord 2 months notice to leave the tenancy, but my understanding is that this is courtesy, rather than law (i.e. if we moved out 1 day before the end of the fixed term and returned the keys, there’s nothing they could do e.g. demand rent).

We have found a new house we would like to move into before the end of the fixed term and plan to give the landlord a month’s notice as soon as we have confirmed this new home.

I’m worried that they will try to withold our deposit to compensate for the “financial loss” of us not giving 2 months notice. Is this possible/legal?

Appreciate any advice - happy to give more information on the wording of the contract!

Thanks in advance.

Hi

Provided you leave by end of fixed term you do not need to give notice although it is polite to give as much as possible.

They can’t claim financial loss due to no notice. If there is any damage they are less likely to be willing to not charge if there is no notice but they’d still need to provide evidence of damage.

3 Likes

Assuming that you don’t have a fixed term that becomes a Contractual Periodic Tenancy, then the requirement to give 2 months notice is unenforceable and as Richard19 says, you can leave at any time before the end of the fixed term with no notice.

If the landlord tries to keep money from the deposit you should just dispute it with the deposit scheme.

I am sure you members are right but it does specify a notice period in those standard ASTs so I dont know what the legal experts would say about these particular situations. Any solicitors out there offering free advise? Didnt hear anything. I would be highly peeved if a tenant left the keys and shot off with no notice as was suggested and would probably drag my feet when returning the deposit and charge for the consequent damage to my shoes.

What does your tenancy agreement say happens at the end of the term? If it says something like ‘the tenancy will continue on a periodic monthly basis’ or even specifically mentions being a contractual periodic tenancy, then the notice requirement would stand. If it says nothing about the tenancy continuing after the fixed term or says something like ‘if the tenant remains in occupation, the tenancy will continue as a statutory periodic tenancy’ then the tenancy ends on the date of expiry of the fixed term and if the tenant is not in occupation after that date, no periodic tenancy will arise by virtue of section 5(2) of the Housing Act 1988.

The requirement to give notice to end the fixed term is contrary to common law, (Right d. Flower v Darby (1786) 1 T.R. 159; Cobb v Stokes (1807) 8 East 358.). As a contractual term, unless it has been individually negotiated with the tenant, it would almost certainly be ruled an unfair term if taken to court. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 outlines the basis on which terms are considered unfair and the former Office of Fair Trading specifically ruled that this term in a tenancy contract would be unfair and should be unenforceable.

If you write to the landlord and tell them you’ve taken advice and understand that no notice is due, then any solicitor they consult will tell them to leave it alone.

1 Like

There is some excellent advice here, and it looks very well informed. There are a few practical things to think about though.

First is the legal cost to you. Can you afford to take the legal route when comparing the potential costs to the deposit amount you could lose?

Do you believe the landlord will try to legally recover the 2 months rent? Is it worth it for him? Some do, some don’t.

Can you negotiate with the landlord? A settlement is far more desirable for all parties if it’s at all possible. As long as whatever you agree is put in writing, then that also reduces the stress in the situation.

A highly experienced property manager once told me that, if its essential to hang onto a deposit, the snag list for damage on exit isn’t hard to build. Once a property is empty, all the wall marks, carpet snags & the like,can be easily identified and monetized. it’s not necessarily ethical, but not against any law to do this. If he takes this approach, your deposit money and you will be tied up for months trying to sort this out. I’d advise against tempting your landlord to follow this path.

My personal opinion is that I’d much prefer a leaving tenant to suggest a negotiated exit strategy. I do have a zero tolerance policy in regard to unpaid amounts, but this is worked around by reasonable behaviour through negotiation. Any landlord that has a brain will be keen to have you leave the place in good order to simply put back on the market. It will decrease his void period, avoid the need to deal with the deposit holding people & avoid the need for spending time and money on legal solutions.

Let’s also bear in mind that everything in the current climate is taking much longer than usual. The legal process was slow before Covid. It’s now at a snail’s pace. Really, I’d find a way to not let this become a stressful situation. A few quid lost might well be worth it on both sides.

Is your landlord approachable directly? If do, have a chat, it might set your mind at rest.

Hi
I would like to ask if you and your landlord or agent have
agreed to for to move out in early February and I assume you meant for extra month m and then it would be considered as both party has agreed.

But it’s good to discuss directly with landlord Or agent in writing and get clear. Also in writing in black and
white it remains as evidence for all legalities and avoid any misunderstandings.

All the best