Ending your occupation contract
What do I need to know?
If you want to leave your rented home, it is important that you end your occupation contract correctly.
You usually have to give written notice to your landlord if you want to end your contract. The type and amount of notice you have to give depends on the type of contract you have.
If you don’t end your contract correctly you may still be have to pay rent, even after you’ve moved out.
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Many standard occupation contracts start with a fixed term, often 6 or 12 months.
Ending the contract at the end of the fixed term
Your fixed term occupation contract will usually end automatically if you leave on the last day of the fixed term.
Some contracts do say you have to give notice so always check your contract.
It is usually a good idea to give your landlord notice anyway to stop future problems.
Ending the contract before the fixed term ends
You can only end your contract during the fixed term if:
- your contract contains a term that allows you to end it early (this is known as a ‘break clause’), or
- you agree an end to your contract with your landlord.
Always check your contract to see what it says.
If you can’t do either of these things, your contract won’t end and you’ll still have to pay the rent to the end of the fixed term , even if you move out.
If your contract rolls from week to week or month to month, you normally have to give at least four weeks’ notice to your landlord to end it, or a calendar month if you have a monthly occupation contract.
The only exceptions to this are:
- if your landlord agrees to accept a shorter notice
- if you are an excluded occupier, in which case the amount of notice you have to give will depend on whether you have a occupation contract or licence agreement
- if you pay rent less often than monthly (every three months, for example). If this is the case, you have to give notice equivalent to a rental period.
It is always best to give notice in writing and make sure that the notice ends on the first or last day of the period of a contract. For example, if your contract is monthly and started on the 5th of the month, the notice you give the landlord should end on the 4th or the 5th.
Click on our webchat and check with an adviser if you are not sure how much notice you should give.
You have a joint occupation contract if yours and another person’s name are on the contract.
If a joint contract holder gives notice to the landlord, this will not end the agreement for everyone else.
If a joint contract holder leaves without giving notice the other(s) will have to pay the missing person’s share.
If you’re thinking about leaving, be sure to talk about it with the other joint contract holder(s) before you take any action. It may be possible for someone else to take your place, and/or for the landlord to give a new agreement to those who are staying.
It is possible for you to agree to end the contract early with your landlord. This is called ‘surrender’.
It is always best to put what’s been agreed in writing so everyone knows where they stand. If you have a joint contract all the joint contract holders and the landlord must agree to the surrender
It might be possible to get someone else to move in if you have to leave early and want to avoid paying rent on more than one home.
You must get the landlord’s agreement for the person you suggest to move into the property.
The landlord should give the new person their own contract or licence agreement – otherwise, you will still be legally responsible for the contract.
Walking away or posting the keys through the letterbox will not end your legal agreement with your landlord.
You can still be charged rent and your landlord can apply for a court order to make you pay what you owe.
It may also make it harder for you to find a new home because:
- your landlord is unlikely to give you a reference for another property
- you might not get your deposit back.