How to Legally End a Tenancy

We receive a lot of queries regarding ending a tenancy and what constitutes this. Most landlords will contact us after not having heard from a tenant for a long period of time to question whether they can legally take back possession of a property. Unfortunately, a tenant simply not returning to their rented property does not automatically end a tenancy.

There are only 3 legal ways to end a tenancy and for a landlord to regain possession of the property and these are: –


  1. A tenant can hand in a ‘Notice to quit’ and return the keys. Under the terms of most tenancy agreements, a tenant must give notice to quit in writing and the notice must be for at least 4 weeks. A text message asking to be taken off a tenancy agreement or advising they are leaving a property does not constitute as written notice and cannot be taken as such.


  1. A landlord can obtain a possession order. A landlord can serve either a Section 8 or Section 21 Notice pursuant to the Housing Act 1988 and then, upon the expiry of the notice period, apply to the court for a possession order. The court can then award a possession order (and usually an order for fixed costs). At the expiry of the possession order, (which is usually 14 days unless the tenant can show they will suffer exceptional hardship if they are required to leave within a 14 day period), if the tenant has not left, a landlord cannot enter the property until a warrant for possession has been executed.


  1. Both parties can agree to, and sign, a Deed of Surrender. If both parties agree to end the tenancy at a date other than as specified in the tenancy agreement, or both agree they want the tenancy ended after the end date, they can agree enter into a Deed of Surrender which will take effect when it has been signed and dated by both parties.


If a landlord tries to enter the property or take back possession without following one of the above procedures, they could leave themselves open to a claim for unlawful eviction under the Unlawful Eviction Act 1977.

The content of this article is correct as at the date of posting and is for information purposes only. Whilst we try and ensure it is accurate we do not warrant or guarantee that this is the case, nor do we accept any responsibility in the event that it is relied on. The information is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice which you are recommended to obtain.

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