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Leaving rental at end of 12m fixed term without giving notice

c1995
c1995 Posts: 45
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edited 19 December 2023 at 1:27PM in House buying, renting & selling
Hello, looking for advice please on our fixed term AST on whether we could leave at the end of the fixed term without giving notice and not pay any further rent.

We are in the process of buying a flat and its looking like we may complete in the second week of January. Our tenancy agreement runs 12 months from 23rd January 2023 to 22nd January 2024.

At the bottom of the post are some quotes from our tenancy agreement, basically according to the contract we should give 2 months notice to move out at the end of the fixed term, or one month once it turns to a rolling contract on 23rd January 2024.

To minimise overlap and paying rent unnecessarily until 22nd February we have read that its possible to leave and hand the keys back on 22nd January as the clauses below are 'unenforceable' and the agreement ends by effluxion of time.

Now, we have been issued a section 21 to move out 22nd February because of a dispute over the energy meters raised by us. I won't go into much detail but basically the house is divided, with the landlord having the other side, but they live abroad. We've discovered we're paying for energy for the whole house, including their usage when they're visiting even though they said our meter was separate.

'Term For the term of 12 months commencing on 23rd January 2023'

'End of tenancy If the tenant intends to vacate at the end of the fixed term, or during the term of the tenancy (but not before the legal fixed term of 6 months), he must give the landlord at least 2 month's notice in writing, and must be acknowledged by the landlord/landlords agent'


'Where the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy at the end of the fixed term the tenant is required to give at least 28 days notice (or one month in the case of a monthly tenancy) in writing to end the tenancy. The tenant's notice must end on the first or last day of a period of the tenancy in accordance with the common law rules.'


As far as I can see it won't roll into a 'contractual periodic tenancy' so we should be off the hook.

Thanks in advance. 
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Comments

  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,461
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    If the LL are living abroad, do you have an address for the serving of notices in the UK?  Have you double checked that the deposit is registered and not in an insurance scheme? 
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • c1995
    c1995 Posts: 45
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    edited 19 December 2023 at 3:43AM
    RAS said:
    If the LL are living abroad, do you have an address for the serving of notices in the UK?  Have you double checked that the deposit is registered and not in an insurance scheme? 
    Hi, thanks for the reply. The letting agency served us the section 21 by post. The tenancy agreement states their address abroad. The deposit is protected with TDS insured
  • MultiFuelBurner
    MultiFuelBurner Posts: 2,771
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    edited 19 December 2023 at 6:49AM
    Just pay your rent up until 23rd Feb with the section 21 notice and if your property purchase if some reason isn't ready by then you cannot be evicted on that date it's just part of the process.

    We're you issued with the following when renting

    1) How to rent document either printed or electronic
    2) EPC certificate
    3) Electrical safety certificate and gas if applicable (electrical has to be dated in the past 5 years and gas is valid for one year so check dates)
    4) Proof and access to the deposit scheme used to lodge your deposit.

    If you did not receive any of the above you can quite likely come to a deal with the letting agents as they have messed up and you could probably leave when you like.
    "I can lead you to the money saving well but cannot make you drink from it"

    As mum always said "don't respond to imbeciles just ignore them" wise words mum 
  • _Penny_Dreadful
    _Penny_Dreadful Posts: 978
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    edited 19 December 2023 at 7:34AM
    RAS said:
    If the LL are living abroad, do you have an address for the serving of notices in the UK?  Have you double checked that the deposit is registered and not in an insurance scheme? 
    It is specifically an address in England or Wales that is required for an AST. An address in Scotland or Northern Ireland (two counties that are also part of the UK) would not suffice. As there is a letting agent involved it is highly likely the address for the serving of notices is the letting agent’s address so the fact the landlord lives abroad will be irrelevant. 
  • c1995 said:
    Hello, looking for advice please on our fixed term AST on whether we could leave at the end of the fixed term without giving notice and not pay any further rent.

    We are in the process of buying a flat and its looking like we may complete in the second week of January. Our tenancy agreement runs 12 months from 23rd January 2023 to 22nd January 2024.

    At the bottom of the post are some quotes from our tenancy agreement, basically according to the contract we should give 2 months notice to move out at the end of the fixed term, or one month once it turns to a rolling contract on 23rd January 2024.

    To minimise overlap and paying rent unnecessarily until 22nd February we have read that its possible to leave and hand the keys back on 22nd January as the clauses below are 'unenforceable' and the agreement ends by effluxion of time.

    We have missed the cut off of 22nd November for 2 months notice as our exchange and completion dates haven't been confirmed by our solicitor yet - we don't want to end up homeless.

    Now, we have been issued a section 21 to move out 22nd February because of a dispute over the energy meters raised by us. I won't go into much detail but basically the house is divided, with the landlord having the other side, but they live abroad. We've discovered we're paying for energy for the whole house, including their usage when they're visiting even though they said our meter was separate.

    'Term For the term of 12 months commencing on 23rd January 2023'

    'End of tenancy If the tenant intends to vacate at the end of the fixed term, or during the term of the tenancy (but not before the legal fixed term of 6 months), he must give the landlord at least 2 month's notice in writing, and must be acknowledged by the landlord/landlords agent'

    'Where the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy at the end of the fixed term the tenant is required to give at least 28 days notice (or one month in the case of a monthly tenancy) in writing to end the tenancy. The tenant's notice must end on the first or last day of a period of the tenancy in accordance with the common law rules.'

    As far as I can see it won't roll into a 'contractual periodic tenancy' so we should be off the hook.

    Thanks in advance. 
    I wouldn’t hold my breath about completing in the second week of January. What’s your plan if you get to 22nd January and haven’t completed yet? Do you have somewhere to stay until you get the keys for the flat? 

    That clause about 2 months notice doesn’t make sense. It says it’s required to move out at the end of the fixed term or during the tenancy after the fixed term ends which is then contradicted by the next clause. There is no statutory obligation to provide your landlord with notice that you’re moving out by the end of the fixed term but you do have a contractual obligation to provide notice given the clause in your AST. I disagree that the LL/LA has to accept the notice though. 

    Whilst a section 21 doesn’t end the tenancy I’d say you would be safe to move out by 22nd February and have no further rent to pay. Your landlord would have trouble (in my opinion) serving you notice that he wants you to leave and then still trying to claim rent once you’ve left. 

    If it doesn’t look like your purchase will complete by 22nd February then stay put. It takes months to legally evict a tenant through the courts. Once you know when the purchase will complete serve your own notice to bring the periodic tenancy to an end. 

  • c1995
    c1995 Posts: 45
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    c1995 said:
    Hello, looking for advice please on our fixed term AST on whether we could leave at the end of the fixed term without giving notice and not pay any further rent.

    We are in the process of buying a flat and its looking like we may complete in the second week of January. Our tenancy agreement runs 12 months from 23rd January 2023 to 22nd January 2024.

    At the bottom of the post are some quotes from our tenancy agreement, basically according to the contract we should give 2 months notice to move out at the end of the fixed term, or one month once it turns to a rolling contract on 23rd January 2024.

    To minimise overlap and paying rent unnecessarily until 22nd February we have read that its possible to leave and hand the keys back on 22nd January as the clauses below are 'unenforceable' and the agreement ends by effluxion of time.

    We have missed the cut off of 22nd November for 2 months notice as our exchange and completion dates haven't been confirmed by our solicitor yet - we don't want to end up homeless.

    Now, we have been issued a section 21 to move out 22nd February because of a dispute over the energy meters raised by us. I won't go into much detail but basically the house is divided, with the landlord having the other side, but they live abroad. We've discovered we're paying for energy for the whole house, including their usage when they're visiting even though they said our meter was separate.

    'Term For the term of 12 months commencing on 23rd January 2023'

    'End of tenancy If the tenant intends to vacate at the end of the fixed term, or during the term of the tenancy (but not before the legal fixed term of 6 months), he must give the landlord at least 2 month's notice in writing, and must be acknowledged by the landlord/landlords agent'

    'Where the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy at the end of the fixed term the tenant is required to give at least 28 days notice (or one month in the case of a monthly tenancy) in writing to end the tenancy. The tenant's notice must end on the first or last day of a period of the tenancy in accordance with the common law rules.'

    As far as I can see it won't roll into a 'contractual periodic tenancy' so we should be off the hook.

    Thanks in advance. 
    I wouldn’t hold my breath about completing in the second week of January. What’s your plan if you get to 22nd January and haven’t completed yet? Do you have somewhere to stay until you get the keys for the flat? 

    That clause about 2 months notice doesn’t make sense. It says it’s required to move out at the end of the fixed term or during the tenancy after the fixed term ends which is then contradicted by the next clause. There is no statutory obligation to provide your landlord with notice that you’re moving out by the end of the fixed term but you do have a contractual obligation to provide notice given the clause in your AST. I disagree that the LL/LA has to accept the notice though. 

    Whilst a section 21 doesn’t end the tenancy I’d say you would be safe to move out by 22nd February and have no further rent to pay. Your landlord would have trouble (in my opinion) serving you notice that he wants you to leave and then still trying to claim rent once you’ve left. 

    If it doesn’t look like your purchase will complete by 22nd February then stay put. It takes months to legally evict a tenant through the courts. Once you know when the purchase will complete serve your own notice to bring the periodic tenancy to an end. 

    Hi thanks for your reply 

    if we don’t complete early January the plan is to stay put, as you say below, and serve notice accordingly when we do exchange contracts. 

    In an ideal world, if we do complete early January, can we just hand the keys back on the last day of our tenancy with no further rent due? I understand in the contract it requires notice but I’ve read that this could be an unfair term and unenforceable if we say the tenancy has ended by effluxion of time 
  • Herzlos
    Herzlos Posts: 14,616
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    c1995 said:
    we have been issued a section 21 to move out 22nd February

    Doesn't this mean that you're out on the 22nd Feb and any other contractual terms are irrelevant? You shouldn't have to provide notice (because the S21 s notice) or make any payments after that date.

    Presumably, if you need to stay there a bit longer you can stay and have them start the process to evict you, but if you leave on the 22nd you've got a clean break. You wouldn't have the option to elect to stay longer?
  • c1995
    c1995 Posts: 45
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    edited 19 December 2023 at 1:27PM
    Herzlos said:
    c1995 said:
    we have been issued a section 21 to move out 22nd February

    Doesn't this mean that you're out on the 22nd Feb and any other contractual terms are irrelevant? You shouldn't have to provide notice (because the S21 s notice) or make any payments after that date.

    Presumably, if you need to stay there a bit longer you can stay and have them start the process to evict you, but if you leave on the 22nd you've got a clean break. You wouldn't have the option to elect to stay longer?
    Sorry I don’t think my original post was clear. Our fixed term AST ends 22nd January. But they’ve given us a section 21 asking us to leave by 22nd February. But we may be in a position to leave before 22nd January, so would we be liable for that month of rent (Jan to Feb) or can we just say we’re moving out as our fixed term has ended by effluxion of time? 
  • c1995
    c1995 Posts: 45
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    Just pay your rent up until 23rd Feb with the section 21 notice and if your property purchase if some reason isn't ready by then you cannot be evicted on that date it's just part of the process.

    We're you issued with the following when renting

    1) How to rent document either printed or electronic
    2) EPC certificate
    3) Electrical safety certificate and gas if applicable (electrical has to be dated in the past 5 years and gas is valid for one year so check dates)
    4) Proof and access to the deposit scheme used to lodge your deposit.

    If you did not receive any of the above you can quite likely come to a deal with the letting agents as they have messed up and you could probably leave when you like.
    Hi, thanks for this

    Yes we're in a good position if the conveyancing process drags out longer. 

    Turns out our gas certificate is out of date and we haven't been sent a new one
  • doodling
    doodling Posts: 937
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    Hi,

    There seems to be some confusion here.

    The tenancy can be ended by the tenant leaving at the end of the fixed term and as far as statute law is concerned that is the end and no further rent is due.

    The wording in the tenancy agreement is an attempt to create a contractual liability for the tenant to compensate the landlord if they exercise their right to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term.  The effectiveness of such clauses is rarely tested in court and I am not aware of a precedent setting court ruling on the matter so the legal effectiveness of such a clause is unclear.

    In this particular case, it would be a difficult argument for the landlord as they clearly want the tenant to leave anyway and have served a S21 to that end.  I think a court might look unfavourably on an attempt to sue for the notice period.

    With respect to the S21, it has no legal status with respect to the tenancy itself.  It doesn't mean that the tenancy is ending, it isn't a notice relating directly to the tenancy itself and most importantly, it doesn't mean that the tenant shouldn't serve their own notice if they want to leave.  A S21 is simply a notice that there will be a court case at some point in the future which might affect the tenancy.

    If you stay in the property beyond the end of the fixed term then you will need to give the contractually agreed notice (or 1 month if not contractually agreed) to end the tenancy.  The law on this is quite settled and the landlord should be able to successfully sue you if you fail to do so.  The S21 has no effect on this whatsoever.

    In reality most landlords who have issued a S21 are open to negotiation with the respect to the end of the tenancy as if they have issued a S21 then they want their property back and making it hard for the tenant to give it back to them is not in their interest.

    Do you have any evidence with respect to the utilities issue, both of the agreement and the costs you might have incurred?  If you do then bear in mind that if the landlord does pursue you for money then you can counterclaim for those costs.
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