Ending or Extending Your Tenancy: Everything You Need to Know
At the end of your rental period, you will need to decide whether to end or extend your tenancy. You may already know which route you want to take, but perhaps you’re unsure what’s expected of you. You may also be unclear about your rights as a tenant when ending or extending your fixed-term contract.
If you belong to Generation Rent, you may be concerned by reports in the news of unfair landlords and tenants being duped. Keep in mind that although you should be careful when renting privately and always read your contract before signing, landlords in the UK have a legal obligation to protect tenants. As long as you have looked after the property and paid your rent up to date, you should have no problem continuing the tenancy or reclaiming your deposit.
Here’s everything you need to know about ending or extending your tenancy.
Your tenancy won’t end automatically
In most cases, your tenancy will not end when you reach the end of your fixed-term period. Instead, your agreement to pay rent will only be broken once you have vacated the property and handed the keys back. If you plan to move out the day your contract is up, you will need to give notice of your departure. Your landlord will also need to serve you notice if they want you to leave the property after the term is up.
You may need to formally extend your lease
Similarly, your lease will not automatically continue if you don’t move out at the end of your tenancy. In some cases, your fixed term lease may become a “rolling contract” that allows you to rent month by month without being tied into a fixed term. A rolling contract should be outlined in your lease, so be sure to check the terms if you know your tenancy is ending. The notice period for exiting a rolling contract is usually between one and two months.
In cases where a rolling contract is not offered, you will need to formally extend your rental period, usually for the same duration as your original agreement. For example, if you originally rented a flat for 12 months, you will need to extend for the same amount of time. You can do this by signing with your landlord or estate agent, and you will usually be required to pay a lease extension fee. See here for Foundation Surveyor’s guide to your next steps in a basic lease extension process.
You can only “break early” if your landlord agrees
When you sign a rental contract, you become legally responsible for the rent payments for the duration of the lease. If you want to end your tenancy during the fixed term, you only do so if there is a “break clause” in your contract. You will normally be required to give two months’ notice in this event. If there is no break clause in your contract, you will only be released from the contract if your landlord agrees. It’s better to contact your landlord directly about this matter and see if you can come to an agreement.
Your landlord can increase your rent once your fixed term has ended
If you decide to extend your tenancy, your landlord can increase the rent as part of the renewal process. This increase will need to be discussed with you before the extension is signed, and it must set the rent at a realistic and fair amount that’s in line with current rental prices in your area. A landlord cannot increase the rent during a fixed-term period without the tenant’s approval.
If there is damage to the property, your deposit may be withheld
Many tenants worry about not getting their deposit back after they leave a property. The house or flat you’ve rented will be checked against the inventory (which details the state the property was in when you moved there) and any costs for cleaning or damage may be deducted. A recent report found that one in five UK students lost their tenancy deposits at the end of the last academic year. Landlords cited that cleaning was the leading cause of all their tenants’ deposits being withheld.
The thought of ending or extending a tenancy can be stressful. However, it’s worth remembering that in most cases, you and your landlord are on the same side. It’s not always about getting the highest rent possible – most landlords want a reliable tenant who will keep the property well maintained and make their payments on time. Therefore, if you are a good tenant, it is in their interests to keep you at the property and avoid the risk of the home becoming empty.