Tenancy agreements: a guide for landlords (England and Wales)

5. 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, all of the following must apply:

  • you’ve protected your tenants’ deposit in a deposit protection scheme
  • you’ve given your tenants at least 2 months’ written notice that you want the property back (‘notice to quit’) and the date they must leave
  • 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 aren’t asking them to leave before the end of the fixed term

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, eg selling drugs

The notice period you must give varies from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the reason you’re using.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has information on reasons for possession for a property let on an AST.

Assured tenancies

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 weekly, you’ll need to give 1 week’s notice.

The notice doesn’t 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.

Break clauses

If there’s a break clause in the tenancy agreement, you can give your tenants notice after this. However, you don’t have a guaranteed right to possession during the first 6 months of the tenancy.

If your tenant doesn’t leave the property

You can’t remove your tenants by force. If the notice period expires and your tenants don’t leave the property, you can start the process of eviction through the courts.