What if the tenants don't move out?

My tenants gave their month’s notice to leave , they are on a periodic AST. They are moving to Poland where they have just bought a flat. I have organised new tenants to move in the day after they leave via openrent, deposit and rent paid for the first month and contract signed.
Unfortunately the war in Ukraine is very close to where my tenants have purchased their flat and with the uncertainties of the last few weeks they have understably decided to postpone their move.
I have explained i am unable to extend their tenancy because the new tenants have also given notice. (i did extend by 3mths in December when they said they wanted to move previously but then I hadn’t signed up new tenants yet).
My existing tenants are desperately trying to find somewhere but my question is if they don’t, and decide to just stay put (and either continue paying rent or not), what are my responsibilities towards my new tenants who i will not be able to move in.
I have their notice and my acceptance of it in writing, but i assume this would all take many months through the courts if i did need to evict them.

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you signed an agreement with the new tenants… bad move


If they served a valid notice then their tenancy ends when it expires. At this point they would become tresspassers. If you tell them they can stay or you accept rdnt from then, then it is likely that you will have granted them a new periodic tenancy.

If they refuse to leave you have to deal with them as tresspassers. However, it was a mistake to organise new tenants untol the old ones have left and if you have signed a tenancy agrerment wigh the you are now contractually obliged to house them.

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Unfortunately you have made a rod for your own back, why on earth did you sign a new agreement before the old tenants have left, if they were to move in the day after the others left how would you know if the flat was up to standard ie cleaning and safety checks etc.
By all means have a tenant lined up to take the flat but never sign before it is empty.


Thanks for your replies. I have always organised tenancies without vacant periods inbetween…usually just a couple of days for cleaning and any repairs. I start searching when the tenants give notice and i conduct the viewings so i can see if there is any damage or repairs needed and then fix that before the tenants move out.
Does everyone else not let until the premises is vacant?
In terms of accepting their rent if they do stay…if they pay it into my account does their legal notice given not count fir anything?

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i never let till vacant. Too risky. The existing tenants may just stay and they have more rights than you think. So do the tenants who are to move in


I don’t re-let until vacant as despite doing inspections cannot assess everything properly. Apart from that, just wondering if it would be better to tell your new tenants of the situation and this way at least they may have some time to find an alternative property! I don’t know how this would affect you legally, (maybe someone on here does?) but it may be a better situation for you than having to tell them the old tenants are still in the property on their move in day.

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Yes, I’d welcome thoughts on this. Currently I haven’t said anything to the new tenants as I’m not sure what they can do about it. I had over 50 people interested in the property in two days so i think they may struggle to get something else quickly (and they have a dog).
They have to move out of their current place as their landlord is returning, but their move out date is a week after our move in date. They could potentially do the same and just stay put.
I’m not sure if i should tell them of the risk or not. Currently my existing tenants are trying to find somewhere else and they say if they don’t then they will just go to Poland anyway, but it is certainly a risk that they decide not to do that.

I would imagine an incoming tenant who had signed a tenancy agreement, paid the deposit and the rent for the first month would demand to be housed given what you have said about the level of interest in your area and the difficulty they would face finding alternative accommodation that will accept their dog.

Several experienced LLs have already commented and I agree with what they say. Never agree to a new tenancy or accept any funds against a new tenancy until the property is firmly back in your possession. Trying to avoid voids by having back to back tenancies can backfire in a spectacular way and end up costing you significantly more than a couple of week’s rent.

Hopefully, your current tenants leave on time. I’d be as helpful as possible in making that happen.


If you cannot honour the new tenancy I believe you would be responsible for any costs your new tenants incurred as a result of this.

The more notice you give to them all, I am assuming this would help in minimising any losses, as they may able to negotiate an extension of their current tenancy.

All a bit of a gamble. What do you think you will do?
Ms T


The only truth is that the situation after you have signed the agreement with the new tenants has changed and that change could affect them severely, might even ruin their life for a while. In my book not informing them is simply dishonest, but that’s strictly my opinion, I’m not calling names here.


I have been contacted today for a reference for my existing tenants in a new place so very much hoping they get accepted for that. Should hopefully know in a couple of days.

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Explain thing to new tenants. They will have to stay put also. They will end up doing that or finding somewhere else anyway. If your current tenants refuse to leave any court process will take months, by then they would be gone anyway I expect. I’d let them stay and pay rent on a periodic tenancy. Bad luck for the new tenants but too bad.

Just don’t do same thing again, wait until they’ve gone before signing.

As for any new tenant demanding to be housed, well, they can do one. We arnt miracle workers. They Can just find another property or stay put. It’s an imperfect system where things break from time to time.


I let mine back to back like yourself otherwise you would have utilities going back into your name and then reverting back to new tenants and trying to get through to utility companies is painful enough. Like you I carry out quarterly inspections and repair as I go. I have tenants move out lunch time one day and new moving in 24 hours later. You have a pretty good idea how a property will be left having made regular inspections. I also carry out any cleaning myself if I find it’s not sparkling and a tradesman to do minor repairs. Over a decade I’ve only once been under immense pressure on timescales because the old tenant didn’t move out until 6pm and left loads of mess and food etc.
My properties are small so i get a higher turnover of tenancies. If I left gaps in between it would seriously hinder any profit.
I currently have had a tenant sign a surrender deed as she wants to get out of her contract early and I have signed up a new tenant and have done this a number of times.
Good luck I feel your pain. Keep us posted


Tell me about it. I’ve been trying to get a final bill out of Shell for one that I’ve just had a couple of months void on (did some refurb work).

They’ve put the gas readings down for the electric and vice versa. I’ve told them several times, but they just don’t get it! It’s in my favour (only by about £20) so I’ve finally given up trying to tell them!

Having said that, I don’t tend to relet before a tenant moves out.

SHELL !! now you have started me off I bought a commercial unit and they were to supply the gas . They wanted £4.60 a DAY Standing charge. And said it was going up to £12.20 a DAY standing charge …I told them to take the gas meter out as I did not use gas. After they had it taken out. the meter reader came around to read it on two occasions . OPUS energy and SHELL are plainly RIP off merchants

Thanks Tracey, that helps me feel a little less irresponsible / too trusting. Yes, utilities would certainly be a pain with gaps between tenants.
Anyway, thankfully I have been lucky. My existing tenants have confirmed today they have just signed a 3-mth contract on a new flat, moving out next week, with a few days for them to do it in a relaxed way. Phew. They are good people and we have a good relationship so I think this has helped.

It’s only irresponsible if you aren’t prepared to take responsibility. You do take a risk of having to pay a good amount to cover your new tenants’ expenses if this drags on, but because they ended the tenancy it’s a very different legal situation and you’ve got more power.

Now if you do this after a section 21 - then you are painfully naive.

A legal contract is a legal contract. One has to leave and the other needs to move in. Assume the best but prepare for the worse. By that I mean read your contract - what is the cost to you if you forfeit? If you do this and know your maths any costs incurred by your current tenants you can go to court for. However as they are moving to Poland and they do not have to give you a forwarding address the chance of seeing the money is slim. Personally I would speak with them and ask them for their plans as you have a small window to clean and prepare. If worse comes to worse have your Polish tenants move out and give them free b&b for a week or two as that could work out cheaper than your tie in. If your contract doesn’t cover this you can’t technically evict a tenant within 6 months and only after this can you serve notice if your contract allows, so you will need to provide a roof for your incoming tenants. That said you are working off supposition. Your tenants have given notice and the chances are they are tied into a contract in Poland so it will all work out. Poland isn’t at war and won’t go to war so whilst the country is flat out helping it is a 100% safe country. There is no reason for them not to move!

Hi Kathryn,

I do similar to you. I also advertise from when I receive notice to vacate and try my best to line one up for a day or two of the previous tenant checking out. However, don’t sign one because you never know what will happen. I usually get a holding deposit, as a prospective tenant is unlikely to pay a holding deposit to more than one place. I also think that it boils down to the tenant that you choose. Some can be more hassle than others, but this was a unique and understandable situation for your tenants.

In this circumstance, had they not moved out, I believe it would have been trespassing. Before getting to that point, it might have been an idea to nudge them towards the idea of a cheap B&B until they can find something else, with the promise of a glowing reference.

By signing a new contract with others, you are legally obliged to provide them with what you signed for, so you could have been taken to court by the new tenants had the old ones not moved out.

Glad its sorted now.

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