Ending the tenancy early (deed of surrender)

Introduction

In most cases, your tenants will stay in the property far beyond the length of the contract you agreed with them. Tenants in England stay in the same property for four years on average according to the English Housing Survey. 

However, sometimes circumstances change and a tenant may want to end their tenancy agreement before the fixed term. This guide provides information on what to do in these situations as well as a document to help you both agree to end the tenancy if you do agree to let them end the contract early.

Ending the tenancy during a fixed term

As a starting point, a tenancy agreement provides the tenant with control of the property for a specific period of time. In exchange, they agree to pay the rent for the duration of that period. Once this is set, neither party can end the agreement during this fixed term unless -

  • the landlord regains possession in the fixed term through a statutory notice (such as a section 8 notice)
  • the tenancy has become frustrated (it cannot be fulfilled) by an unforeseeable event (freak weather destroying the property for example)
  • there is a break clause in the tenancy agreement allowing the tenant or landlord to end the agreement early
  • both parties mutually agree to end the tenancy early.

If none of these conditions apply, then the tenancy will continue until at least the end of the fixed term. In most cases, the tenancy will continue on beyond that until either you or your tenant choose to end it by serving a notice.

My tenant has asked me to agree to end the tenancy early. Do I have to?

As your contract is binding on both parties, you are free to refuse a request to end the tenancy early. You are under no obligations to give up your entitlement to any rent due during the fixed term of the contract and you can hold your tenant to the contract they signed until the fixed term ends.

However, practically it is likely to be worth considering. If the tenants circumstances have changed they may be unable to pay the rent and you may be able to find an alternative tenant who can. Similarly, if the tenant leaves the property without informing you then it can be difficult to collect rent and difficult to regain possession.

Surrender Agreement

If you do decide to allow the tenancy to end early, then you should always seek to formalise this in writing. This is known as 'express surrender'. To help our members we have produced a template for use in these situations. This deed of surrender document provides certainty that the tenants have given up their rights to remain in the property.

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