Ending a tenancy
If you want your tenants to leave, you must give them notice in a particular way, including certain information and warnings. This depends on the type of tenancy agreement and its terms.
Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs)
In some circumstances, you can take back your property without giving any reason. To do this, and all of the following must apply:
- you’ve protected your tenants’ deposit in a deposit protection scheme
- the date they must leave is at least 6 months after the original tenancy began (the one they signed on first moving in)
- they have a periodic tenancy - or they have a fixed-term tenancy and you are not asking them to leave before the end of the fixed term
How much notice you need to give
You must give your tenants written notice that you want the property back (‘notice to quit’) and the date they must leave. The notice period you give them must be at least:
- 2 months if you gave notice before 26 March 2020
- 3 months if you gave notice between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020
- 6 months if you gave notice on or after 29 August 2020
If you gave a section 8 notice, the notice period is sometimes shorter, depending on the reason for eviction.
This change is because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
During the fixed term
If you’re still in the fixed term, you can only ask your tenants to leave if you have a reason for wanting possession that’s in the Housing Act 1988.
Examples of reasons include:
- your tenants are behind with rent payments (‘in arrears’)
- your tenants have used the property for illegal purposes, for example selling drugs
If you gave your tenant notice before 26 March 2020, you would have needed to give them up to 2 months to leave, depending on the reason.
Because of coronavirus, in most cases you must now give them a longer notice period.
If you gave your tenant notice between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020, period must have been at least 3 months.
If you gave your tenant notice on or after 29 August 2020, the notice period must be at least 6 months. It can be shorter in some cases, for example if you evict them for antisocial behaviour.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has information on reasons for possession for a property let on an AST.
You will need to use one of the reasons for possession in the Housing Act 1988.
Excluded tenancies or licences
If you live with a lodger and share rooms with them, you’ll often have an excluded tenancy or licence.
In this case, you only need to give ‘reasonable notice’ to quit. Usually this means the length of the rental payment period – so if you collect rent monthly, you’ll need to give 1 month’s notice.
The notice does not have to be in writing.
Non-excluded tenancy or licence
You can end the agreement at any time by serving a written ‘notice to quit’. The notice period will depend on the tenancy or agreement, but it’s usually at least 4 weeks.
If there’s a break clause in the tenancy agreement, you can give your tenants notice after this. However, you do not have a guaranteed right to possession during the first 6 months of the tenancy.
If your tenant does not leave the property
You cannot remove your tenants by force. If the notice period expires and your tenants do not leave the property, you can start the process of eviction through the courts.