Going Periodic: What Happens When a Tenancy’s Fixed Term Ends?

Landlord law expert Tessa Shepperson explains everything about periodic tenancies, rolling contracts, contract renewals, and what to do when your AST’s minimum term is about to expire!

What happens in a joint tenancy when one tenant wants to leave, but the other tenants want to stay in the property?

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When a landlord rents out a property to a tenant, there will usually be a tenancy agreement that specifies a period of time which the tenancy will last for.  

This period of time is the ‘term’ of the tenancy. Where the term is set out in the tenancy agreement, it is usual to refer to the agreement as ‘fixed term’, as it will be for a fixed period of time.  This will normally be for six months or a year.  Less commonly, it can be for other periods of time.

But what happens when this period of time ends?  Let’s go through the different scenarios. 

What Happens When a Contract’s Minimum Term Ends

This will depend on whether the tenants have moved out or not. Let’s look at both cases.

1. If the Tenants Have Moved out

If the tenants move out at the end of the fixed term, the tenancy ends.  It will no longer exist. This is under a rule quaintly known by lawyers as ‘effluxion of time’.  

 

So, if the tenants have moved out by that date, then that is the end of it.  The tenants no longer have any liability under the tenancy and the landlord no longer has any right to charge rent.

 

Landlords often get upset about this if the tenants have moved out without giving them any notice.  Sometimes they may even put in their tenancy agreement a clause requiring the tenant to give notice if they want to leave at the end of the fixed term and providing for them to pay ‘rent in lieu of notice’ if they don’t.

 

Sadly (for the landlords) these clauses will almost certainly be void under the Unfair Contract Terms regulations (now part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015).

 

The tenant only signed up for a specific period of time.  Any clause forcing him to stay longer or attempting to make him liable for continuing rent if he has moved out will be considered ‘unfair’ and unenforceable.

2. If the Tenants Remain in Occupation

The situation is different if the tenants remain living at the property.   Although, save where there is a contractual periodic tenancy set up (see below on this), the tenancy will still end at midnight on the last day of the fixed term.  

 

If the tenants remain in occupation, then in most cases, if no new fixed term tenancy or ‘renewal’ has been signed, then as soon as the fixed term tenancy has ended, a new ‘periodic’ tenancy will be created automatically in its place.  

 

Unless or until a new fixed term tenancy or ‘renewal’ document is signed, the tenancy will then continue on this periodic basis.

 

There is nothing wrong with this.  Some tenancies have run on for years on a periodic basis.  You don’t HAVE to give tenants a new fixed term or renewal.  

 

Fixed terms are often preferable as they give both landlord and tenant more security.  Plus, they give landlords an opportunity to increase the rent.  Sometimes, however, such as if either the landlord or the tenant are uncertain of their plans, it may be better to let the tenancy run on as a periodic, as this is more flexible.  

 

The landlord may also prefer not to be tied down to a long fixed term if they are unhappy about the behaviour of their tenant and are only willing to allow them to remain if they behave themselves on a month by month basis.

 

Whether you allow the tenancy to run on as a periodic or insist on a new fixed term really depends on what you want and what is best under the circumstances.   

 

Incidentally, letting agents are often keen for tenancies to be renewed as this will trigger their entitlement to a ‘renewal’ fee. Don’t let them over-persuade you.  If the circumstances of your tenancy are that the more flexible periodic tenancy is preferable, then they should accept this.  They do not have an absolute right to a renewal fee – however much they may want it!

How are Periodic Tenancies Created?

So if the tenants remain in the property and no renewal is signed, there will be a periodic tenancy. How are these created? There are basically three options:

  1. If the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy
  2. If the tenancy is a ‘common law’ unregulated tenancy
  3. If the tenancy agreement provides for a contractual periodic tenancy

Let’s take a look at these in turn.

1.  Statutory Period Tenancy

If the Tenancy Is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, then when the minimum term expires, the tenancy will continue due to statute.

Of the three, this is the most common situation. The new tenancy will arise because section 5 of the Housing Act 1988 says it will.

The Housing Act 1988 is the act which set up and regulates assured and assured shorthold tenancies.  Section 5 says that if the tenant remains in occupation after the end of the fixed term, then a new ‘periodic’ tenancy will be automatically created.  This new periodic tenancy will:

  • Start immediately after the fixed term ends
  • Be deemed to be between the same people who were the landlord and tenant at the time the fixed term ends
  • Be in respect of the same premises
  • Be ‘periodic’ which means it will run from period to period – normally monthly or weekly (see more on this below)
  • Save for this, it will be under the same terms and conditions as the preceding fixed term tenancy

This sort of periodic tenancy is known as a ‘statutory’ periodic tenancy – because it was created by statute, i.e. section 5 of the Housing Act 1988.

In most cases, the period will be monthly or weekly, depending on how the rent is payable under the terms of the tenancy agreement.  However, if the last payment of rent was different – for example if the tenant paid all the rent up front by one payment for six months’ worth of rent – then the period of the tenancy will reflect this last payment (so in our example it will be a six month periodic tenancy).

Most tenancies today are assured shorthold tenancies, so in most situations where tenants stay on after the end of the fixed term, they will have a statutory periodic tenancy.

2.  ‘Common Law’ Unregulated Tenancy

Some tenancies fall outside the statutory code set up by the Housing Act 1988.  In the main these are:

  • Tenancies where the landlord is a resident landlord as he lives in the same building (see more on this below)
  • Tenancies where the tenant is a limited company, or
  • If the rent is either:
    • more than £100,000 pa, or
    • less than £750 pa (or £1,500 pa in Greater London)

You will find a full list in Schedule 1 of the Housing Act 1988.

So far as resident landlords are concerned, this will normally be where someone is renting out some sort of granny annex of ‘garden flat’.  It will not apply to situations where the landlord owns two or more properties in a purpose-built block of flats and rents one and lives in another – here the rented properties will be ASTs.  If the landlord is renting a room to a lodger, this will normally not be a tenancy at all (see more about this in my Lodger Landlord website).

So, what happens if a tenant stays on after the end of the fixed term in a common law tenancy?  Section 5 will not apply as this is not an AST.  Generally, however, the law will imply a periodic tenancy where the tenant pays and the landlord accepts rent.

Under section 54(2) of the Law of Property Act 1925 it is not necessary to have a formal written tenancy agreement deed if a tenant is living in a property and paying rent where there is a fixed term of 3 years or less.  A new tenancy will be created automatically.  

The only circumstances where it will not be created will be if the tenant fails to pay rent or the landlord refuses to accept it.  Generally, the landlord will be looking to recover possession of the property here, in which case note that they will still need to get a possession order through the courts (my Landlord Law Eviction guide has instructions on how to do this).  

Download a template of OpenRent's Free AST for assured shorthold tenancies in the UK.

3.  The Tenancy Agreement Provides for a Contractual Periodic Tenancy

The third kind of case that creates a periodic tenancy is ‘contractual periodic tenancy’.  These are not common and only exist if the tenancy agreement signed by the tenant specifically provides for them.

When this is done, the tenancy does not actually end at all, but continues (assuming the tenants don’t move out) on a periodic basis, as set out in the agreement.  Normally this will be for a monthly periodic tenancy.

One of the advantages of contractual periodic tenancies is that you can specify what the period of your periodic tenancy will be so this creates certainty.   

What Won’t Happen

It’s probably worth mentioning, to conclude this article, that where someone has been living in a property as a tenant, they will not turn into a ‘squatter’ if they remain in the property after the fixed term has ended.  

They will stay a tenant and will be entitled to remain in the property until evicted through the courts.  

Another worry landlords have is that if tenants stay in the property a long time, they will suddenly acquire extra rights, such the right to buy the property.  This won’t happen, either.

Landlords will almost always be entitled to evict tenants who remain living in the property after the fixed term has ended.  The only circumstances where this is not the case is where the tenant has a protected tenancy under the Rent Act 1977.  But no Rent Act protected tenancies have been (or can be) created since January 1989, so this is not going to happen with a more recent tenancy.

In conclusion

In the vast majority of cases where a tenant stays on after the end of the fixed term where no new agreement has been signed, he will continue to have a tenancy – a periodic tenancy.  Indeed, he will also have a tenancy agreement as the terms of the preceding tenancy agreement will continue to apply.

However, there is nothing to fear about periodic tenancies and there are times when allowing a tenancy to ‘run on’ as a periodic is a good idea.  Hopefully this article helped you understand the issues and how the rules work.


OpenRent Supplemental: What happens when only one tenant wants to leave a joint tenancy agreement?

In a joint tenancy, all tenants are joint and severally liable for the duties of the tenancy (e.g. paying the rent) but also the privileges (e.g. enjoying access to the whole of the property).

As long as they follow the terms set out in the contract, any tenant in a joint tenancy can give notice to leave the property. If the contract says 2 month’s notice is required, then any tenant can give this notice and move out two months later.

At this point, the tenancy will have ended for all parties unless the tenancy agreement says otherwise. If the other tenants remain and keep paying the same rent, it won’t simply be business as usual, since the tenancy that previously existed, along with its terms, will have been terminated.

It will be in everyone’s interest to come to a new agreement as soon as possible. Ideally, the remaining tenants and landlord will have made arrangements during the notice period and signed a new tenancy agreement to start as soon as the old one ends.

You can download OpenRent’s Free joint tenancy agreement here.


Tessa Shepperson

Tessa Shepperson Landlord Law Blog Author

Tessa is a specialist landlord & tenant lawyer.  More of her writings can be found on the Landlord Law Blog.  She also runs the popular Landlord Law online service. The last section, OpenRent Supplemental,  is not by Tessa Shepperson. 

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95 Replies to “Going Periodic: What Happens When a Tenancy’s Fixed Term Ends?”

  1. I have on going contract and have given my tenants 28 days notice in October last yrs 28 days notice Feb this yr and 28 days notice April this yrs I’ve also served section 21 eviction order to be out by 31 may what do I do if their still there and where do I go from there

  2. You need to be sure that your section 21 is correctly drafted first and that you have complied with all the pre-requisites required by law. Otherwise, it will be unenforceable.

    If the tenant fails to move out, your only option is to bring a claim for possession through the courts. If you try to evict in any other way this is unlawful.

    You can read about my service here: http://landlordlawinfo.co.uk/eviction/

  3. i have got a assured six months shorthold tenany ware the time is up now they have now signed again for another 12 months on the form can any one back out before the 12 months is up

    1. I’m quite sure if you give 28 \ months notice to quit,that would be lawful.your tenancy would then end of you would move out.
      Notice,gives the landlord time to re_,let from the day you move out.

  4. I am a tenant of a housing association. What are my rights regarding buying my flat. I have lived for over 40 years. My wife and I are pensioners.

  5. Is the rent set in stone that it should be every 4 weeks or can the landlord refuse a monthly payment ?? I am struggling to pay every 4weeks as it can be a double payment that month ?

    1. Hi Penny,

      If your minimum term expires and your tenancy becomes periodic, then you will need to continue to pay over the same period as your last payment of the minimum term. I.e. if you paid monthly all the way through your assured shorthold tenancy, and then the tenancy becomes a statutory periodic tenancy, then you will need to continue to pay monthly now that it is a periodic tenancy.

      As Tessa writes:

      In most cases, the period will be monthly or weekly, depending on how the rent is payable under the terms of the tenancy agreement. However, if the last payment of rent was different – for example if the tenant paid all the rent up front by one payment for six months’ worth of rent – then the period of the tenancy will reflect this last payment (so in our example it will be a six month periodic tenancy).

      The answer will most likely be in your contract!

  6. I rent out my flat and my mortgage company have stipulated that I must have a short term tenancy agreement in place either for 6 months or a year with the tenant. I always require the tenant to sign a 6 months lease at the start of their new tenancy & then offer them a 12 months agreement once the 6 months have come to an end. This does cost me money but as it is a stipulation with my mortgage company that they will only allow me to rent out my property with this in place I have no alternative.

  7. Hi Tessa,

    My Tenant has left my property. The tenancy agreement states a deposit is payable but there is also a separate signed agreement stating that the tenant paid 2 months rent only in advanced and none of the rent paid during the tenancy was for a deposit as this was paid by the housing department. The tenant is now claiming she paid a deposit. What do you think?

    Regards

    Mike

  8. Thanks for your article which is very useful. My tenant is likely to stay a few more months until his visa ends, which might make it challenging to find new tenants in the winter. Could you clarify if I could “force” my tenant to move out if he can’t sign a new fixed term(a year) tenancy?

    1. Hi John, if the fixed term has ended then the only way you can ask him to leave is by serving a section 21 notice, however that has to be a minimum of two months so might not benefit you too much and if he doesn’t leave after two months and decided to stay another month then you would have to spend two months going through a court process. I work for a letting agent and most months of the year we are letting properties easy so providing the flat is in good order and the price is right, you will relet your flat. Good luck

  9. I will have rented my flat for 4 years in November. My Tenancy has been on going. I have Not had to sign anything. I have had a rent rise which I can just manage. I am a 60 year old Lady with No Private Pension and Now told I will not get my state Pension until 66 I have No savings I am worried about the future?

  10. My tenant is currently on a periodic agreement and is not paying rent on time as well as making excuses when I tell him I need to visit the property. I need to increase the rent can I do this?

  11. Hi Tessa

    In my AST it states the following:
    “The Term shall be from x date to x date and then monthly periodic….
    The “Term” is to include any periodic tenancy following the fixed term.”

    The agent asked if I would like to renew the contract, but I have requested to continue to monthly periodic as stated in the contract. The agent said it is just a standard thing they put in all the contracts and the landlord has to approve for that to go forward. Is this correct? Do they have a right to decline this?

    Thank you

    1. You (the tenant) can’t be forced to renew your tenancy. You currently have a valid tenancy. The only option is for the agent to either accept this or to evict you. If you are a good tenant and pay your rent on time the landlord is unlikely to agree to evict you as it will cost him/her a ton of money. The agent just wants to maximise their commission.

  12. I have to say that in the vast majority of cases I’ve found the periodic tenancy arrangement, following a six month AST, to be extremely useful. No tenant has ever asked me for another fixed term tenancy and the periodic tenancy means no extra paperwork for me, while the conditions remain the same as before so everybody knows what to do. I have one tenant with a periodic tenancy now lasting more than 10 years. He’s happy with the arrangement and so am I.

  13. I have a tenant who has now left. He was on a fixed six month AST followed by 11 months periodic. Should I have provided the prescribed information again once the periodic tenancy started. I protected his deposit late (28 days after the deadline) and now he is claiming his compensation. Does he have the right to claim it twice, once or the AST and once for the periodic?

  14. We have been tenants since May 2006 and the rent is up to date. Our landlord sent us a section 21 notice and wants possession on the 14th August. We had to contact him as my wife has been undergoing tests for a serious liver complaint and he has not been too accommodating. He will not take action for possession as we have agreed to move by the end of August.
    The landlord has declined to inform us why he wants us out and taken an aggressive stand even though we have a long term and harmonious relationship with his office.
    Should we have been given the right to acquire the property.

  15. Hi

    I am a landlord and I got a letting agent to only collect rent from tenants for a 12 months term. This has come to an end and the tenant wants to stay in the property and are happy to deal directly with me. The letting agents informs me there is a charge of £1400 if the tenants continue to occupy the property. I have paid them £120 for a year and do not want to continue with them. What is the right way not paying for this?

    1. Right to buy only applies to council properties, not privately owned properties. Section 21 is known as the ‘no fault’ eviction as it can be used for any reason a landlord may want to regain his/her property. You must be given at least 2 month’s notice.

    2. Read your agency agreement and take professional advice if necessary as the terms may be deemed to be unfair and therefore unenforceable.

      1. By that I mean this query from Dorothy…

        Hi

        I am a landlord and I got a letting agent to only collect rent from tenants for a 12 months term. This has come to an end and the tenant wants to stay in the property and are happy to deal directly with me. The letting agents informs me there is a charge of £1400 if the tenants continue to occupy the property. I have paid them £120 for a year and do not want to continue with them. What is the right way not paying for this?

        1. Hi – so the answer here will be determined by the terms of the agreement Dorothy signed with the agent.

          The best solution to this is not to use letting agents that tie you in for renewal or ongoing tenant-find fees!

  16. I would be careful about the notice period on fixed term contracts being an unfair clause. I thought the same but was ruled against. I basically argued the same as above. Here is a snippet of the judgement. I guess they can add any special clauses they want.

    The Tenant asserts that she did not have to give notice if the tenancy was going to end
    on the Fixed Term end date.
    10. The Office of Trading Guidance does indeed stipulate that a Tenant is not obliged to
    give notice to terminate the tenancy at the end of the Fixed Term; however this
    Guidance only applies to standard clauses in a contract. Special Clauses fall outside the
    Guidance and it may have been prudent of the Landlord/Agent to explain this to the
    Tenant when enquiring of her intentions in various letters.
    11. However I am satisfied by the Special Clause 8.1 in the Tenancy Agreement, signed
    and agreed to by the Tenant, that the Tenant was obliged to provide the requisite notice
    and she therefore is liable

  17. I am currently in a 12 month AST with 6 month break clause followed by 2 months notice by either party which is about to expire. When the agreement reverts to periodical will the 2 months notice still apply or will it be 1 month

  18. Hi..
    I have rented a room in my house to a student on a periodic tenancy month to month basis.
    She signed the first month and paid first month . The 2nd month was week late , no agreement was signed for the second month. The third month was due 27th Oct but now paid yet and again no monthly contract signed for this month.
    She has not been a good tenant, I would come home to face groups of students in my house drinking alcohol late in the night and she has guys staying over nigh In my house . I basically want her out .
    Can I end this tenancy? As she has not signed the contract this month or also not paid yet? Does she need to sign each month as it is a month to month periodic contract?

    JG

    1. Hi John, it really depends on exactly what kind of contract you originally signed! If she’s a lodger (i.e. if you also live in the property as your home) then the process would be different to if you signed an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), or another kind of short-term agreement. Lodgers can generally be asked to leave with ‘reasonable notice’ and will not have the same right to stay as tenants who signed an AST.

  19. Hi,
    I have a tennant who says he is a student and he has a six month fixed term agreement to rent a room in the property and use the shared facilities.
    For the past few months he has paid his rent very late, usually 13 days late.
    He is very condescending about the property and often has a partner staying with him for days at a time.
    The other tenants always pay on time and do not cause any trouble.
    Can I end his contract if I give him 2 months notice?
    He made out he wanted to leave, but now is asking to stay.

    1. Hi Raymond. In an AST, you can’t serve a section 21 notice within the first 4 months (with the earliest they could be made to leave being 6 months in. If the fixed term has expired, then yes you’re usually free to serve a notice to quit.

  20. I have an ast with a six month notice as it was for a fixed trrm of 15 years it ended 4 years ago do all the same terms apply including the six months notice now that it is a periodic tenancy?

    1. Hi Ben – yes the notice period usually applies only after the fixed term has expired. So if the notice period says 6 months, then the landord/tenant will have to give 6 months’ notice if they wanted to leave/reclaim the property.

  21. Hi, I am planning on moving but haven’t signed anything since the minimum 6 month contract nearly 3 years ago, do I have to give notice to my Landlord if I am moving. I will obviously tell him I have moved but do I legally have to give him a notice period.
    Thanks

  22. My 1 year fixed term AST ended a week ago. The agency contacted me a day after the contract ended saying the landlord is offering a new fixed contract of 1 year with a 25£ raise of the rent. He also said that although the renewal date has passed, we could get it done ASAP as it was only up few days ago. We obviously would like to be on a periodic tenancy for at least this month. Can they make the new contract start from a past date? Without even giving a notice of the rent raise? How do I know if I’m in a periodic tenancy at the moment?

  23. Landlord/agency want to renew our AST ended few days ago, to a new fixed term AST of 1 year with 2 months break clause. Does this mean we can leave whenever we want as long as we give a 2 months notice? I read somewhere that many AST have an initial 6 months where you can’t move out, even with a 2 months break clause. We don’t have the new contract as we didn’t give an answer yet, but the agency wants us to pay the renewal fee before we can have the contract.
    We might agree to having a 2 months notice, if there are no other bounding clauses, but we want to read the contract first before we pay the fee. What do you suggest us to do? We’ve already discussed a lot with the agent to get some flexibility on the notice period, as they didn’t even want to give us any kind of break clause at first.

  24. My partner and I were told on the 22 of November a month before the end of our fixed term contract (22nd of December) that we would not be given a new fixed term contract and instead would go onto a periodic contract. We found a property withinn a few days but were told that as we had not given a month’s notice before the end of our tenancy (which we were not able to because of the short notice we were given) that we would have to pay rent until the 21st of January (at a higher price than our fixed contract too). Do we have grounds to leave by the end of our tenancy and refuse to pay for the two months extra rent on a rolling contract we did not agree to?

  25. What a problem ? tenant has 6 month AST then is moved onto rolling contract by letting agents , 2 years later gives 1month notice to leave paying rent as required (ok so far) , informs council he left the property before the end of the notice period and now as landlord i have been charged for those days of council tax AFTER THE TENANT LEFT even though tenant still had a key and access to the property. The council just say pay up unless the original AST had a continuation clause written in !!

  26. Hi

    My tenant is now on a periodic contract, her rent is due on the 1st of the month, she gave me a month’s notice on 8th December. Does her tenancy end on 8th January or the end of January. I’ve been told the end of January.
    Can someone please clarify this the open rent agreement states – sec. 11.2 the tenant giving written notice of at least one month and expiring on the last day of a period of the tenancy. What does this mean?
    Need advice please

  27. My tenancy agreement ended Nov 30th 2017, my landlord has written to the letting a agancy stating he no longer wishing to go through them and to return my deposit, I have also confirmed this in writing, we have signed a new agreement ourselves as they didn’t manage the property it was just introductory, they are asking for us to sign a form that is an addition to the original agreement and no doubt will want some form of payment, how do I get my deposit back.
    Thanks CH

  28. Hi, Claire I really need help because it seems that for my problem everyone has a different answer. I have been living in a flat for a year and 7 months already. I started with an Assured Short Hold Tenancy for six months and after this ended, none of the parties did nothing when ended, I mean we did not renew the contract but we continue paying religiously each month. Now we want to move and give to the landlord one month notice as we were in a Periodic Tenancy Agreement, but landlord is refusing to accept due to a clause that was in the original fixed term “If either party wishes to determine this agreement on 10th May 2016 or at any time later after 10th May 2016 and gives to the other not less than TWO MONTHS WRITTEN NOTICE of that wish and pays the Rent and observes and performs the obligations on his part up to the expiry of that notice expiring on 10th May 2016 then on expiry of that notice the Term is to cesase and determine but the Landlord´s rights against the tenan for earlier breches of the terms of this agreement shall remain in force”. the guy wants to keep my deposit. Could someone be so kind to tell me who is right?. I can´t pay 2 places at the same time just because he is trying to force me to stay here longer.

  29. thank you for your useful site and clear explanations. There is one scenario that would be great to know. What happens if you are in an Joint and several Assured short hold tenancy with a partner. At the end of the tenancy one of you notify the agent that you do not want to remain and will be leaving the property at the end of the contracted time, but the other partner informs them they want to stay on. Does the contract end and a new one issued to the person staying on? This has happened to me and the agent is saying that the contract will not end whilst one of us remains in the property. Surely that cannot be right as that means I am liable if the other person does not pay or makes any damage.

  30. My fixed tenancy for a year has ended 3 months ago and my date that I started the contract was on the 13th of the month. I would like to give notice to end my tenancy, if I give it today, 16th does that mean I have to wait almost two months before I can stop paying rent or is it 30 days period? Many thanks

    1. Hi Alex, it depends on your tenancy agreement. Often you will have to time the notice to end at the end of a rental period. Usually rental periods end on the last day of a calendar month. If so, your notice will have to meet both conditions: (1) give at least the minimum amount of notice (2) time it so it ends at the end of a rental period.

  31. Hello.

    I found your article very interesting but have a question based on your answer to the enquiry re one party giving notice that they wish to terminate the contract and move out at the end of the fixed term period of an assured short hold tenancy and another tenant, being part of that same contract, wishes to remain and refused to move out.

    Your response says that the tenant who wishes to end the contract can do so but the agency we are using is giving us conflicting advice and says that if one tenant remains in the property at the end of the fixed term then the party moving out remains liable

    Therefore, please could you direct us to the relevant legislation in this respect to help us in our discussions with the agency.

    Many Thanks

    1. Hi Jan, I can’t give you a link to an act of parliament on this issue, but I can tell you that once out of the fixed term (i.e., once in a period contract), any member of a joint tenancy can give notice to end the tenancy agreement, and this will end the tenancy for all parties. The exception is if the tenancy agreement (i.e. the contract) has a clause that says otherwise.

  32. I have lived at this property for 2 1/2 years regularly renewing a shorthold and just come to the end of a 6 months assured shorthold. On this occasion I told the agent acting for my landlord that I just wanted to move to a rolling contract, this is because I am buying a new home and will need to give notice and didn’t want to be tied in. The previous shorthold doesn’t give any details of a notice period and I always paid my rent 6 months in advance for ease but obviously I now pay monthly since 10th January. Can you tell me how much notice I will have to give to now end the rolling contract as the earlier mention in the blog of paying in bulk, 6 months in advance has me a little confused.. thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Anne, if there’s nothing in your contract about how much notice you have to give (which would actually be quite unlikely, so make sure you’ve read it all through closely!), then the usual amount is two months.

  33. Hi there,

    Our tenants are just about to complete their first 12-month fixed term and would like to renew for the same period again. However, I would like to include a 6-month break clause in the agreement as we might want to try and sell our property later this year. Our tenants have pushed back on this and have suggested a 10-month break clause instead which would represent a reduction of 2 months from the tenancy agreement they originally signed. This doesn’t really work for us so we spoke to our letting agent about this. They said “the problem with adding a break clause is that it’s not entirely a renewal if anything is changed apart from the dates, and rental amount. So, as it wasn’t in the contract originally, the tenant doesn’t have to agree to it being added by law”.

    I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the break clause before we respond to our letting agent / tenants.

    Kind regards,
    Neil.

    1. Hi Neil,

      Your agents are right in the sense that the tenants don’t have to agree to any new terms. It sounds like your tenants want more security with a longer fixed term. But if they don’t sign a new contract/renew, then your tenancy will become a periodic tenancy, which affords them even less security: you’ll usually be able to evict them at two month’s notice with a ‘no fault’ Section 21 eviction.

      If you’re selling between 6 and 10 months from now, then it may be worth saying to them that they can choose between letting the tenancy turn periodic (less security for them), a 6 month break clause (your best outcome) or them leaving the property (not ideal, but will leave you able to sell whenever you want).

  34. I have tenants who signed a 6 monthly AST on 25th August 2017. It therefore expires 25th February 2018. They now want to renew for 1 year. My question is, can I get the new year AST agreement drawn up and signed by the tenants and I before the 25th February ? I want to do it as soon as possible, to give us all peace of mind.

    1. Hi Clare, yes if all parties agree about what they want to happen, you can draw up and sign a new tenancy agreement within a day. Essentially you just need to sign the same agreement as last time, but with a fixed term of 12 months instead of 6 months, and updating any parts about the tenancy deposit, etc.

  35. Hi,
    I was given notice to quit by my landlady back in November 2017. My Tenacy Agreement was due to end on 12th Feb 2018. The landlady wanted the property back and I had always paid my rent on time. In the notice she said that I needed to be out by 12th March at the latest. I left on 2nd January 2018 (10 days before my rent was due for the next month) and she accepted the keys from me. She is now saying that I owe her for the month 12th Jan- 12th Feb that is on my contract, even though I was no longer in the property and she was the one giving me notice. Is she correct?

    1. Hi Louise. Yes. You have to pay the rent for the entire length of your tenancy agreement. When you sign a tenancy agreement, it says the length of the fixed term, and that you will pay the agreed rent. Whether you are in fact in the property doesn’t change this. When your landlord gave you notice in November, they were letting you know that they wanted the property back after the end of your agreement, so there was no need to leave early. It is always possible to come to an agreement that you will end the tenancy early if it suits both parties, but if you don’t do this, then you must still pay the rent until the end of the tenancy.

  36. I’ve had tenants on a 1 year fixed AST which ends on 8 April. I had spoken to them both to say i would continue the contract after that on a periodic tenancy, which suits me and appeared to suit them. However, one of the pair has now given notice that she wants to move out on 8 April instead. The other has found a replacement flat mate and they and I would ideally prefer to continue on a periodic tenancy. I’m currently carrying out credit checks etc. Having read this I see that the tenancy agreement between my 2 tenants comes to and end if one moves out.. therefore I can’t continue it as periodic for the new tenants. Is there any way around this? The tenant who is leaving would ideally like to leave on 8 March. Presumably there is no process for replacing one tenant with another (Ie. for the last month changing the agreement names and them both signing it in order to keep the AST tenancy live in order for it to progress to a periodic one? So is my only option to issue a new contract for a whole 6 months or year? Is there any kind of initial contract that I can do that is essentially the same as a periodic one – I ask this because the remaining existing tenant does not seem to be keen to be tied to a whole year/6 months and i’m not keen on it either as people’s lives change and fixed contracts don’t allow for that.

    1. Hi Cindy – good news here: you should be able to achieve everything you want quite easily.

      First let’s look at your current tenancy. Yes, even though you are still in the fixed term, if all parties agree, then you can mutually surrender your tenancy, and end it in March. The old tenant will then be able to move out, and the new one move in.

      Now let’s look at the new tenancy you want to create. You have essentially asked whether you can sign an AST with no fixed term. The answer is yes. You can sign a periodic tenancy with no fixed term, although you won’t be able to evict the tenants with a Section 21 notice within the first six months. (But they will be able to leave if they want to.)

  37. Hi,

    I have been renting my current studio apartment for 1 year and 3 months. The initial term of the tenancy was 1 year and the agreement does contain a clause that says that after the end of the term the contract will continue as a “periodic tenancy” and run from month to month. However, the same clause also stipulates that the Tenant should give at least 2 month’s notice to terminate the contract. Is this not contradictory? How can a notice period of 2 months be required for an agreement renewed on a monthly basis? What interpretation should I give to this clause?

    Thank you in advance for your help,
    Best regards,
    Alicia

    1. Hi Alicia, I’m not a legal expert, so I wouldn’t want to give legal advice on interpreting contracts. I can tell you something about how periodic contracts work, however!

      ‘Periodic’ just refers to the rental period of the contract. That simply means (i) how often you pay the rent and (ii) the time period which that rental payment covers (e.g. my 1st May rental payment pays the rent for the month of May). Your tenancy is not ‘renewed on a monthly basis’. Rather, you have one indefinite tenancy with a monthly rental period. You are not creating a new agreement every month by paying the rent. Rather, you are continuing to honour your ongoing tenancy agreement responsibility of paying the agreed monthly rent.

      So the clause in your contract is just saying that, if you want to end this indefinite monthly period tenancy, you need to give the landlord at least 2 months’ notice.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

  38. Hi,
    Thanks for the amazing article and comments!
    I have AST with an agency that has fixed term which ends in
    less than a month. The agency proposed to renew the fixed term to 6 or 12 months, which I rejected. They seem to have found new tenants and are telling me that I have to move out at the end of my fixed term without any notice sent to me so far. Can they evict me just because the fixed term has ended without notice or that is an agency trick to check how well you know the law? (Housing Act 1988 sections 5 and 21)

    1. Hi Jason. No – your landlord (or agent) will pretty much always have to give you at least 2 months’ notice before you must leave the property. It’s very bad practice to sign anything with new tenants while a the property already has a tenant (you), and if they are claiming to have done this, then I would recommend complaining to the redress scheme the agent is a member of (e.g. the Property Ombudsman, ARLA, etc.) You can usually find this on their website.

      When it comes to giving notice at the end of a fixed term, there is an imbalance between the notice periods that the landlord and tenant must give. I.e. the tenant can move out at the end of the period (as Tessa describes above), whereas the landlord must (usually) terminate the tenancy using a Section 21 notice, which has a 2 month notice period.

      To recap, you landlord/agent will need to give you at least 2 months’ notice to move out, and you won’t have to leave at the end of your fixed term.

      Keep us updated!

  39. Thanks for the article.
    I am a landlord and the initial 6 month tenancy agreement that was in place has now rolled onto a periodic tenancy. I have been charged £90 by the letting agent for this to happen. I have never heard of being charged for this to happen and was not told I would face this charge. Can you tell me if this is grounds to raise a complaint?

    1. Hi Graham – we’ve never heard of this being charged for either. It literally happens automatically, incurring no costs to the agent or landlord, so it’s hard to see why you should be charged!

      I would first check your Tenancy Agreement & pre-movein correspondence to see if you agreed to any such charges. If there’s nothing in there about this charge, then it’s hard to see why you should pay it.

      If you haven’t paid it yet, then don’t pay it without asking why you should. And don’t pay unless you get a good answer.

      If you have paid it already, then complain. If no reason is given, then you should raise a complaint with the trade body of which the agent is a member. You can usually find this on their website or by calling their office.

      Keep us updated on how this progresses!

      Sam

  40. Hi Tessa,
    I’m on a 2 years fixed term contract without break clause (my mistake for not realising this when I signed the contract). However, I need to move out and sent notice to my landlord in January (3 months ago) before my leave day (next week). However he insists for me to continue to pay rent until the end of the contract or until he finds another tenant (and he does’t seem interested to fin d someone else). For me is a real big financial struggle to pay rent in 2 places: won’t be able to do so, that’s practically impossible, will have to pay more than I can earn. He is rather stubborn to ask me to continue to pay. What should I do? I won’t have enough money to pay him rent and he doesn’t want to let me out. What do you suggest?
    Thank you so much,
    G.

    1. Hi G,

      This is a really common situation! As you mention, if you’ve signed a fixed-term AST, then there’s not much you can do if you want to stop paying rent before the minimum fixed term.

      One good piece of news is that the landlord is happy for you to find a new tenant as a possible solution. In this scenario, a new tenant would pay a holding deposit and sign a tenancy agreement. You and the landlord would end your contract by mutual surrender of the agreement. The new tenant would then move in. It’s a bit fiddly and the timings can be difficult, but it’s quite common.

      You might find it surprisingly easy to find a new tenant. The landlord could place the property on OpenRent for free, where our average let-time is just one week. Then you’d be free to move out.

      Best of luck with your situation!

  41. Hi Tessa,

    Very good advice! Ive got a concerning question, I’ve vacated the property from a joint tenancy agreement. Would I stilll be liable to pay bills etc?

    The Estate Agents had only said I will be liable to pay rent up until I can replace a tenant? Although I’ve emptied my room already.

  42. I’m in a joint tenancy with 3 other people and we are on a periodic rolling contract since Aug 17′. Me and one other want to move out and the other two want to remain until July this year – the property manager says if we don’t all agree to move out together, me and the other will be liable for our share of the rent.

    Is this correct? We’ve given enough time for one months notice before moving out? Could somebody please help me clarify?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Kyle, the short answer is that if one (or more) tenant of a joint periodic tenancy gives the required notice to end the tenancy, then the tenancy ends for all parties.

      That is, your flatmate can serve notice to leave, and if they serve it according to the terms of the contract, then the tenancy will end for them, you and the landlord. You will not be liable to continue paying rent, nor will they, since the tenancy will have been terminated. You will also, of course, not be able to continue living in the property as tenants.

      The above is usually the case, but there may be certain things in your tenancy agreement which bear on this, so definitely check through and seek legal advice if you are not sure of what to do.

      Let us know how you get on!

  43. I beg someone to help me.
    I am on a joint fix term tenancy with a person I don’t know. He has been abusive and threatened me, he admired having mental issues which have not been taken care of and stoped taking medication. This 6months have been hell. My contract expired on the 27th of February and I have served my notice a week ago and since then I am uneable to go back home as I am extremely frightened of him, I would not be safe to be there as he is not taking this well. Him and the agency wants me to find a replacement for the flat and also to pay the agency fees which are £540! Would this be ok? Even tho the contract is expired and on the contract said I would have to find a replacement only if I want to get out throughout the contract. Please help. I am not safe.

    1. Hi Letizia, if your fixed term expired on the 27th Feb, then you can serve notice to leave whenever you want, and after the notice period is up, the tenancy will be over. You won’t be liable to pay the rent, or any fees for finding new tenants.

      In fact, if you had moved out on the 27th Feb, you could have left without giving any notice at all. Now that the fixed term has passed and the contract is periodic, however, you will have to wait until your notice period is up.

      If you need more assistance, contact Shelter.

  44. My fixed term contract ended on 16th march 2018 and we (myself, letting agent, property owner) agreed that my tenancy would become “rolling” on a month to month basis.
    However, my agency has been taken over recently and now i’m getting emails confirming the above but asking me for a renewal fee of £75..? I thought you only paid a renewal fee if entering into a new fixed term contract. Any advice how to respond? Or should I just pay the fee?

    1. Hi Yvonne, you’re right to question this!

      We don’t think renewal fees are necessary in cases like yours (and indeed we don’t charge them). Agents usually make their money by finding tenants, but since your landlord already has a perfectly good tenant (you), it sounds like they are just trying to find some money from their new client (your landlord).

      As I said, we don’t agree with renewal fees in situations like yours. However, most letting agents do charge them. But as you say, they only charge them if introducing a new-fixed term agreement. Definitely don’t pay the fee if you’re not even signing a new tenancy agreement.

      Moreover, it might also be very possible to not pay any fee even if you do sign a new agreement. If you’d prefer to be back on a fixed term contract and were happy with the terms of the old one that expired in March, then you could ask your landlord to produce a similar agreement with just the dates changed. In that scenario, it’s very hard to see why you should pay the agent anything at all.

  45. I have a tenant on a assure shorthorn tenancy for 12 months dated march 2013, I have never renewed the agreement and the tenant still there. Now I want to sell the property and people are telling me it’s going to be difficult to get rid of the tenant. What should I do.?

    1. Hi Teresa, according to what you have said, the fixed term of your tenancy will have expired around the end of February 2014.

      This means you should be able to issue a normal section 21 notice to your tenant according to the notice period required in your tenancy agreement. As long as the tenant accepts that they must leave at the end of the notice period, everything should proceed smoothly!

  46. Hi, my 12-month fixed-term contract ends on Apr 30 (I have been a tenant at this property for 4 years) but I intend to move out at the end of tenancy i.e. on May 1. My property agent told me that I will need to give 2 months notice before I can vacate the property. Am I required to still serve the notice when my tenancy is already due to expire this month? I will greatly appreciate your guidance please. Thank you.

    1. Hi Prakash, great question. If you leave on the specific day that the fixed term expires, then no, you don’t need to give notice unless your contract has a specific clause saying that you do. It should also describe how long this notice must be.

      But if there is no such clause, then you can leave on the last day of the fixed term with no notice (according to Shelter)

      Even if this is the case, I’d always recommend giving your landlord as much notice as possible so that they can find new tenants and make all necessary arrangements.

  47. I am a Landlord with an AST agreement for 6 months just starting. At the end of the fixed period I am happy to let it continue as a periodic tenancy. If the tenant wants a new fixed term then the Letting Agent that introduced the tenant and provided the agreement will want another fee for just changing the dates and circulating the same agreement for signature. I know I can’t use their Tenancy agreement, but there are plenty of model agreements available to produce my own. Could I create my own tenancy agreement? What would the implications be on the deposit as the Agent is responsible for the collection and depositing with the protection scheme. Does the deposit have to be returned at the end of the 6 months fixed term or periodic tenancy, if it runs beyond the 6 months, and a new one taken for the new fixed term tenancy agreement.

    1. Hi Steve – lots of questions here. Let’s jump in!

      Whether you’d need to pay fees to your agent or not depends on the terms of your agreement with them. Reading through your agreement should make this clear. Yes, there are many model tenancy agreements out there. Here’s ours, which you can use for free.

      Tenancy deposits can be transferred. You could always just ask your agent to transfer the deposit into your name. No – the deposit doesn’t have to be returned at the end of the fixed term; the tenancy will still exist, it will just have turned periodic as opposed to fixed-term. The tenancy deposit will be held until the termination of the tenancy not the until the termination of the fixed term.

  48. Hi,

    I’ve rented a flat on a fixed term of 6 months. I believe it automatically turned into a periodic tenancy when this ended a month ago. My landlord sold my flat and a new managing agency is in charge now, but it was said they would agree to the old agreement.

    The new agency wants me to sign a 12 month fixed term agreement at an increased monthly rent starting at the beginning of next month. I only have a 5 months of a 12 month contract left with my company so I feel I don’t have the job security to sign something like this. What rights do I have? I presume at the moment I’m still covered by my periodic agreement so if I decline, I’m still covered by the rules of this, so they must give me two months notice to kick me out. Is this correct?

    Also, I thought they weren’t allowed to increase my rent with less than a months notice. Or does the fact it’s a new contract change mean they can?

    I’ve not talked to the agency yet but I was hoping to understand my position before negotiating. Any help would be appreciated.

  49. Hi Tessa,
    How much notice my lodger has to give if they agreed on a 3 month term and want to leave just after 1month (leaving agreement early) ? Shall I let them go but charge month rent as a leaving fee?
    Please help
    Meg

    1. Hi Meg, if you’ve agreed to a three-month fixed term, then they will have to honour that unless you agree to let them out of the agreement. Whether you want to compromise of not is really down to your discretion.

      Outside of a fixed term (i.e. in a periodic set-up) lodgers have to give whatever notice is agreed in their lodging agreement. If there’s no notice period in the agreement then the law only requires ‘reasonable’ notice. Since you say you have agreed a three-month term, this doesn’t apply to you in this case.

  50. Hi Sam,
    Thank you so much for your response!
    She is a lodger but we agreed on a 3 month term. However, as it’s a short term I didn’t note anything about how much notice must be given if they want to leave the contract early. I thought it was rather cheeky to receive a week notice from her plus refund.
    I am happy for her to leave the contact early but think she should pay at least a month rent as her leaving fee..
    please give me your thoughts.

    1. Hi Meg,

      If you’ve worked out that this is the most sensible way to proceed, then you need be careful about the fee aspect.

      Your agreement probably doesn’t include anything about ‘leaving fees’? If so, then if you agreed to release her from the tenancy and then tried to get this fee, she wouldn’t have to pay anything.

      It sounds like to best thing for everyone would be if she stayed until you found a replacement who would take on her rental payments.

      1. Hello Sam,

        Luckily I had a proper discussion with her and she agreed on paying a month leaving fee if she leaves early. I will also not be refunding her deposit so it’s all good news 👍🏼
        Thank you so much for your help though! I have learned a lot.

  51. What happens if the landlord does not stipulate the term in the contract – does it revert to automatic 6 months minimum or does it just becoming a rolling one where either side can give notice any time. The start date is clear but the term was left blank. I have a friend who wants to leave the property asap as the landlord came to the property without prior agreement but landlord is insisting on 6 month minimum.

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