If you want to move, you can’t just pay your last month’s rent, pack your bags and pop your keys through the door. This is called ‘abandonment’ and your landlord is within his or her rights to continue charging you rent – and use the force of the law to demand that you pay it – until you serve notice correctly. Leaving this way could also jeopardise your chances of renting anywhere else, as most landlords will want a reference from your previous landlord.
If you’re on a fixed-term tenancy
If your tenancy is an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy), you’ll probably have signed up for an initial fixed term of six months or one year. If you have to leave before the end of the fixed term, you’ll need to check if your tenancy agreement includes a break clause, which lets you leave early. If it doesn’t, you should speak to your landlord to see if you can reach an agreement to finish the tenancy – you could offer to help him or her find some new tenants, for example – otherwise you will have to continue paying the rent until the end of the fixed term.
If you want to move out on the date the fixed term ends, you’ll need to give your landlord written notice up to two months beforehand. So if your term ends on 1 December, you’ll want your tenancy to end on 30 November and need to submit your notice by 30 September.
If you’re on a periodic tenancy
If the fixed term period of your tenancy has expired and you haven’t been issued with a new one then you will have a periodic tenancy. With a periodic tenancy, your tenancy rolls on each time you make a rental payment. So if you pay rent monthly, you need to give a month’s notice; if it’s weekly, your notice period is weekly, and so on.
Always check the terms of your tenancy agreement to know exactly what notice you need to give your landlord of your departure.