Ending a tenancy without a court order - abandonment

Introduction

Where residential accommodation is let on an assured shorthold tenancy (or a non-shorthold assured tenancy), legally the landlord can only end the tenancy by obtaining a court order for possession. Typically, this is done for assured shorthold tenancy by serving a Section 21 notice and then seeking a court order once this notice runs out. Alternatively, the landlord may serve a Section 8 notice and apply for a court order based on a specific ground.

In reality however, the majority of tenancies end without a court order. Most tenancies are ended through the tenant's choice to end the tenancy agreement. In these cases, the landlord needs to be sure that the tenancy has come to an end to ensure that the tenant has no further rights to occupy the property. The landlord is then free to relet the property or sell it, if that is what is proposed.

In this guidance we explain the different ways in which the tenant can bring the tenancy to an end because usually the landlord has to rely on the tenant to end the tenancy, if the landlord wishes to avoid having to go to court to bring the tenancy to end. All of this is linked with abandonment where a tenant moves out leaving the property vacant.

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The rest of this guide covers how a tenant can end a tenancy, unlawful eviction, available options when a tenant has abandoned the property, the legal status of abandonment notices, implied surrender and the landlord's obligations around surrender in the fixed term.

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