Bringing a tenancy or a license to an end ( termination of the tenancy or licence ) requires that certain procedures are followed, depending upon the type of tenancy, for the action to be fully legal:
Residential tenancies are now in the main Assured Shorthold Tenancies where there is an initial fixed-term of say, 6 months or 12 months, followed either by a new agreement for another fixed-term, or in its absence a Statutory Periodic Tenancy.
A periodic tenancy automatically follows the fixed-term if the parties do nothing (i.e. they do not sign another agreement) and the tenancy will be on the same basis as the original agreement, with all the same clauses and conditions being operative.
The period of the tenancy will depend upon the rent payment schedule: if the rent was paid monthly under the original fixed term, this will become a monthly periodic tenancy, or a weekly periodic tenancy if this was the payment schedule.
Tenants should realise that the fixed-term commitment is in fact a contract. They are committed to stay the full term, or, if they leave early, to pay the full fixed-term rent.
In some cases it may be possible to negotiate an early release from a tenancy but this is a matter for personal agreement between landlord and tenant.
Notice by Tenant
Where the tenancy has become a Statutory Periodic Tenancy (where the fixed-term has ended and no new agreement signed for another fixed-term) the tenant must give the landlord notice if he wants to leave:
The notice period must end at the end of a tenancy payment period: for example, if the rent payment date is on the 20th of each month, the notice period must end on the 20th of the month or the 19th to be on the safe side.
The tenancy agreement cannot change these basic rules, 4 weeks being the minimum notice period. However, if the tenancy period is more than 4 weeks, for example, one month, then the notice period is one month.
[Note: these rules do not apply to Protected Shorthold Tenancies - shortholds entered into after 28 November 1980 and before 15 January 1989 - these tenancies had to be preceded by a notice - the shorthold notice]
Tenants needing to terminate and leave early from a fixed term tenancy may negotiate with their landlord to be released from their contract, but this is a matter for personal agreement between landlord and tenant.
Landlords may or may not oblige by attempting to re-let early if the tenant agrees to pay out of pocket expenses - these should be agreed in advance.
Alternatively, the tenant himself may find an alternative tenant, though the landlord will wish to carry out her standard vetting or screening procedures and again may well claim additional expenses.
Notice by Landlord
To end a shorthold tenancy the landlord must give at least two months' notice under Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. For notices - see Agreements & Forms
The notice cannot take effect for at least six months or until the original agreed term has expired.
Where the tenancy has become a periodic one the notice given must expire on the last day of a rent period. For example, if a monthly periodic tenancy rent day is the 20th of the month, the two month notice period must end on the 19th of the month in question.
There is nothing to say you cannot give more than two months' notice. Therefore a landlord could service a two month Section 21 notice soon after the granting of a six month term to take effect at the end of that term.