A fixed term tenancy agreement is a contract that allows a tenant to occupy a property for a fixed period. It can also include a break clause, which allows either the landlord or the tenant to bring the tenancy to an end before the actual end date of their contract, provided they give suitable notice. It is worth noting that the tenant will have a minimum right of occupation for 6 months before a landlord can bring it to an end.
How to extend an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
If you are happy for the tenant to stay in your property, and you use an agent, the agent will be able to organise a new fixed term contract for you along with any new renewal fees that may be applicable. This is also the perfect time to discuss any potential rent increases or decreases with the tenant, so that the new agreement can be adjusted accordingly.
An alternative to arranging a new fixed term contract is to allow the tenant to stay and let the tenancy roll on a monthly periodic basis. All the obligations will remain as detailed in the original contract but there will be no fixed end date and the tenancy will keep rolling until either the landlord or the tenant serves notice to bring it to an end.
How to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
If your tenants are on an AST and you want to serve notice to vacate the property at the end of the tenancy, you should serve a Section 21 Notice. This is a legal notice that lets the tenants know that you wish to take the property back. The same notice can be given if you want to enact a break clause that is included within their AST. This cannot be served within the first four months of their tenancy. From October 2021, it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide an eviction notice with 2 months’ notice.
If the tenants fail to vacate the property in line with the notice provided, you will need to initiate legal proceedings within 6 months of the date that the notice was served to get a court order to take possession back.
Serving a Section 21 notice
To be able to serve a Section 21 notice successfully, you must have:
- Properly registered deposit with an approved scheme and provided all the relevant information to the tenancy in a timely manner.
- Provided the tenant with a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), Gas Safety certificate and How to Rent booklet.
- Complied with the requirements to have a smoke alarm on every floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that has a solid fuel combustion appliance.
It is important to note that even though you own the property, you do not have the right to remove a tenant by force. If an issue arises whereby the tenant will not vacate the property, you will need to start the eviction process through the courts.
If you are in doubt over your rights as a landlord, speak to your agent or seek legal advice. ARLA PropertyMark can provide some great tools and information to help you understand your responsibilities as a landlord.
Evicting your tenant for other reasons
Using a Section 21 does not require a landlord to give a reason for providing a notice to the tenant. Often it is simply the case of wanting to sell the property, move back in or redevelop it.
However, on lesser occasions it could be because a tenant has broken one or more of the terms in their rental agreement. This is typically the exception rather than the norm, but it is a risk with all tenancies: failure to pay rent properly and in this case, you should issue a Section 8 notice.
This notice advice the tenant of the problem (i.e., Rent arrears) and gives the tenant a time frame for the issue to be resolved and advise that if the issue is not resolved, the landlord will take the matter to court. If you, as the landlord, decide to take the matter to court it is normal to seek to get the property back in your possession and receive a remedy for the issue.
In the case of rental arrears, for example, there will be a court order detailing what the tenant must pay which may also include costs as well as rent and a possession order requiring the tenant to surrender the property.
As mentioned previously, if you are ever in doubt about your rights as a landlord, please speak to your agent or seek legal advice. ARLA PropertyMark is a great tool for information regarding your responsibilities as a landlord.