Tenant demanding refund


I have been to collect keys from tenant today upon their premature departure. They have decided to leave as soon as the break clause allowed them to do so. I found a new tenant very quickly and through speaking to the existing tenant was told that they would like to leave on the 18th of September, therefore I arranged for the new tenants contract to begin on the 18th. Happy days I thought, last week the existing tenant requested if I could meet today instead to hand over keys and complete inspection which we did, bar the odd wall scuff it was in good nick. The problem arose when the tenant then said because they had left they were potentially liable for any damages and would therefore be entitled to a full weeks refund of their rent. I ended the tenancy on openrent and sent their deposit back to alleviate these fears they had. Silly of me in hindsight. Unbelievably they are still asking for a weeks refund despite my efforts to accommodate them. Anyone able to help on where I stand? They have mentioned getting the council and shelter involved. Quite sad the way it’s ended as they’d looked after the property and had unfortunately lost their jobs.


A lesson for next time get any leaving agreement in writing

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Rent is due until the end of the notice period. When they move out is irrelevant. They are not due any refund.

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Hi Richard and Nick,

Sorry I have no answer but have a question on the basis of Richard’s reply.

Even though the keys were handed back and inspection report completed etc.
Would that not be taken as agreement by the landlord that this was the new end date?

I think we may be in the same situation very soon so just wondering as they would have told council tax dept and utilities they have gone on this date too.

Tenant been served notice to quit but doubt they will leave in the exact day specified.

My understanding was tenant had given notice and was due to leave on 18th.

I dont see that meeting a tenant request to do checkout earlier would result in rent being repaid unless explicitly agreed with the landlord. I’ve done this before and tenant didn’t expect rent back as was only doing it so it was convenient for them.

Council tax is due until the end of rental period so tenant should still be liable for this.


Hi Richard,

Thank you for the clarification. I can see it was done as a request from them.

I’ve had tenants in the past tell the council they have left our property when they were still moving their belongings to their next property, so basically had two properties on the go before the keys were given back.

The council sided with them.

Hi Mr T

I believe the law has changed after a court ruling, if it is a fixed term tenant is liable, periodic depends whether it is statutory (ll liable) or contractual (tenant liable) so depends what your AST says. All a bit complicated! In his case it would be tenant as fixed if break clause used. Here is a link that provides clarification


Thanks for all the replies. Colin I have a leaving date in writing.

Thanks Richard for that. It does look complicated in places.

In our case it looks like we would be liable for council tax if they left early and we accepted the keys back as we have a statutory periodic tenancy. But if we didn’t accept the keys back until notice expired in theory they would be liable. Have a very anti landlord council though ( as I’m sure a lot of others do too).

When you get the KEYS back liability changes

Hi Colin.
What about if they request a date to give keys back before Notice period ends but I can’t make the date they request? (Being a long way from the property to just drop everything) Thanks

they can post by recorded delivery

The council will not be concerned about right or wrong . They want the earliest date to get council tax liability and money .they are only concerned about screwing landlords and tenants for money


Surely though they could post the keys without your knowledge that can’t change liability.

how can they post the keys back to you and you not know?

A number of ways, you could be away on work for example. Seems everybody is against you kn this one colin, a lesson for for next time.

Refund of a weeks rent and council tax liability are 2 different issues .I have had one or two tenants leave a bit earlier and i have given then money back . Thats up to you>… I have never paid any council tax in liability till I have had the keys back and the council where one of my properties is agreed with me. If you dont have the keys then you cant let it in theory

In my opinion, the AST wording sets out the rules of the tenancy. If there is a clear earliest case scenario end date, then leaving early is the tenants choice. This to me says that the financial burden lies with the tenant. Otherwise, they could have left a month early or even more. The AST is the document that dictates how the tenancy begins, runs & ends. It’s a little nasty to say, but it sounds like the tenant isn’t keen on respecting the AST, but let’s think about this in a realistic way. How much is the disputed amount. If they believe they are legally due this, then they will win in the small claims court. I doubt they will ever bring a case for a weeks rent. I don’t believe they’d win, and they probably won’t think they will either. If it were me, I’d let the comms trail cool off & wait to see if they’re daft enough to spend money bringing a case for such a small sum of money. Remember, you can always settle prior to a court date.


Unless i’m missing something, i really wouldn’t worry and would definitely not pay them anything. Let them sue if they think they have a case. I bet they won’t!

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I had a similiar situation, I said they are still liable for the council tax and rent due. It is their choice to leave before the end of tenancy date. I took over the utilities becasue the end of tenancy inspection required the meter readings.

They were not happy but understood.

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