This sounds a bit odd. Surely you have the right to leave?
Some landlords, though, will make out to tenants that they are not entitled to leave or vacate the property. This is quite wrong. No-one can force you to live at the property if you don’t want to.
However, this does not mean that you are not bound by the tenancy agreement or that you do not have to pay rent.
This will depend on whether the tenancy has ended or not. A tenancy will NOT end just because the tenant has moved out. When you sign a tenancy agreement this is a legally binding contract which can only end in one of the proper ways.
The ways a tenancy can end:
By being ‘unwound’ – under new rights brought in under the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014, a tenant can apply to the court to end a tenancy within the first 90 days and claim a refund if the tenant has been induced to enter the tenancy by unfair practices (eg by misleading statements).
By agreement – the landlord and the tenant can agree between them that the tenancy can end at any time. However neither party can be forced to agree this.
Under a break clause – this is when the tenancy agreement has a special clause allowing the parties to end the tenancy early.
By ‘effluxion of time’ – when a fixed term ends, the tenancy will always end automatically at midnight on the last day of the tenancy. If the tenants have moved out by then the tennacy will be at an end. There is no need for them to notify the landlord in advance and any tenancy agreement clause making this a requirement will be void.
However if the tenants stay on a new ‘periodic tenancy’ will be created which will usually run from month to month (ie if rent is paid monthly). This periodic tenancy can be ended
By a tenants notice to quit – this cannot bring a fixed term to an end but it will end a periodic tenancy – at the end of the period. The tenant must give notice of at least one full period.
By a court order – we have discussed this in point 8. It is the only way a landlord can force a tenant to leave against their will
By ‘frustration’ – this is a legal rule of contract which may or may not apply to tenancies.If it does it will probably only apply if the property is rendered entirely uninhabitable – for example if it burns down.
What happens if a tenant just leaves?
If the tenancy has not ended, the tenant will still be liable for the rent, and the landlord will be able to sue for this through the courts. Landlords are under no duty to ‘mitigate their losses’.
However if it is clear that the tenant has moved out – a landlord can sometimes accept this as an ‘implied offer to surrender’ and end the tenancy. This is only at the option of the landlord however – a tenant cannot force a landlord to do this.
Landlord Law Blog Posts
- Tenants notice to leave
- Landlord and tenant law – implied surrender explained
- It takes two to surrender – why tenants cannot end a tenancy just by moving out