Although, ending a tenancy may seem like a pretty straight-forward process, the reality is that most London landlords are not doing it legitimately. Most of the times, their chosen methods can be easily disputed by tenants in their favour if they are onto something. This is not a situation in which you wants to find yourself into - being legally obligated to keep a tenant under your roof and paying a hefty legal bill on top of it. And recently, more and more tenants have started to use the ignorance of their landlords as an advantage.
If you want to avoid scumbag tenants and part with them in a legit way, you need to terminate the tenancy in one of the following methods.
1. Section 21 notice
Also called “possession notice”, it is the most used way of ending a tenancy agreement in London. It basically says that you want to receive your property back from the tenants when the tenancy period comes to an end. The end date specified in the tenancy agreement is when you have a legal right to repossess the property and to do that, you have to give the tenant an appropriate notice.
Landlords are legally obligated to serve the Section 21 notice two months before the end date and it’s not required to provide any further reasoning for it.
Check back with your tenants to make sure they have received it.
2. Tenancy “surrender”
This is considered to be the opposite of a Section 21 notice because, this time, the tenant initiates his leaving via notice to quit. With it, the tenant informs his landlord that he’ll vacate the property on the said date. If the tenant wishes to do this at the end of the tenancy, he must give the surrender notice 1 month prior to leaving and the landlord needs to receive it. The time of serving may differ for periodic tenancies and is usually specified in the tenancy agreement.
3. By mutual agreement
This method can be used at any moment during the tenancy, no matter if it’s a fixed or periodic and obviously requires the agreement of both of you. There are cases when an agreement gets to be terminated one day after its signing. Life is unpredictable, things happen and the law has specified a way to legally end a tenancy in such cases.
It’s more common for renters to require the signing of a mutual agreement and there is no reason for you to refuse it. Yes, the law is on your side and you can practically force the tenants to abide by the contract they have signed and wait quietly until the end of it. But there is absolutely no actual advantage for you to do so. The most you can get is a bitter tenant, plotting on ways to revenge.
4. Section 8 - tenant eviction
The most unpleasant of ways to end your relationship with a tenant is the Section 8 eviction notice. There can be many reasons for a landlord to do it but the most common one is rent issues. Although it may sound that you get to kick the renter out of your property and bring some justice to the table, the fact is, there are far less nerve-racking, cost-efficient and not so appealing ways of terminating a lease. It’s always best to try and negotiate a mutual agreement or a surrender notice from the tenant before proceeding with an eviction notice. Use it as a last resort because the Section 8 path is long and rocky.
The tenant eviction can be served at any point during the tenancy, but you can achieve a better result with a Section 21 notice. This is because Section 8 does not guarantee the eviction of a tenant and a following possession of a property. The renter may simply refuse to obey and take the matter to court, which, on the other hand, can decide in his favour leaving you with a salty bill to pay and an unwanted tenant lawfully living under your roof. I mentioned this before.
So you may want to simply wait until the end of the tenancy period or try to negotiate an early leaving with the tenant. Of course, you still need to abide by the rules and be strict when serving a notice.
Key Points to Have in Mind
#1. Bear in mind that none of the notices are an equivalent of an actual termination of the tenancy agreement, they are simply requesting it. The official end of the tenancy is when your renter moves out of the property and returns the keys.
#2. The end of tenancy cleaning is usually the tenant’s responsibility. The general rule is that they should leave the property in the same way as they have received it, minus wear and tear. There are a number of ways to do it - a tenant can clean on its own or hire a company for removals and move out cleaning. In reality, tenancy cleaning is quite complicated and deserves an article of its own. Stay tuned for that. Stay tuned for that.
#3. A good practice is to keep a record and track your communication with tenants, especially regarding the tenancy agreement. You have to make sure that they receive all communication from you.