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How Long Can a Tenant Stay After the Tenancy Agreement Expires?

As a landlord, it is important to understand all of the various deadlines and timeframes to ensure you always stay on the right side of the law. This is especially important at the end of a tenancy. Here, our experts discuss how long a residential tenant can remain in a rental property after their lease expires.

When a lease agreement comes to an end, landlords have to decide whether or not to continue the tenancy with the tenant. The tenant can sign a new lease agreement or agree to let the tenancy become a rolling or periodic tenancy, or the landlord can end the tenancy completely. 

If landlords choose to end the tenancy, they will have to follow certain steps in order to evict the tenant fairly and legally. Following the correct procedures can avoid potential disputes and also ensure that the eviction process runs as smoothly as possible. This includes understanding how much time to give a tenant to vacate the property after the agreement has expired. 

In this short guide, we detail how long a tenant can stay after the tenancy agreement expires, what happens if this time passes and they have still not left, how landlords can initiate a formal eviction process, and explain how Percy Hughes & Roberts can help with all of your landlord queries. If you have any questions we have not answered, our specialist landlord solicitors are happy to speak to you regarding your landlord query. You can contact us by completing the enquiry form or by calling 0151 666 9090

What happens when a residential lease has expired?

Firstly, you will need to check the type of tenancy you have agreed with your tenant. This will either be a “fixed-term tenancy” that ends on a specific date or a “periodic tenancy”, which continues on a weekly or monthly basis. This type of week-to-week or month-to-month agreement is also known as a “rolling tenancy.” 

At the end of a fixed-term tenancy, you will need to decide whether you want to let your tenants continue to rent your property. If so, you can either sign a renewal agreement for a new fixed term or let it become a rolling tenancy. 

If you decide to remove the tenant after the fixed term has ended, you will need to serve them a Section 21 notice of seeking possession. You cannot serve a Section 21 notice if:

  • It will expire before the tenancy’s fixed term ends
  • It will expire before a break clause
  • Your tenant is in the first four months of their tenancy
  • You have not protected the tenant’s deposit
  • You have not served your tenant with the government’s How to Rent booklet
  • You do not have annual gas safety certificates
  • You do not have an Energy Performance Certificate for the property

This type of eviction notice is not fault-based, meaning landlords do not need to specify why they want to regain possession of the property, and the tenant does not need to have breached any terms of the tenancy agreement. It is usually served at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement.

If a tenant has missed rent payments or breached the terms of their lease agreement, you should instead use a Section 8 notice to carry out an eviction. Speak to an expert landlord solicitor to determine the best way to evict a tenant and ensure you avoid any legal action or challenges that the tenant may bring.

How long can a tenant stay after their lease expires?

A Section 21 notice gives the tenant a notice period of at least two months to vacate the property. If this overlaps with the end of the tenancy, the tenant can stay after the lease expires, until the end of the notice period. The tenant should continue to pay rent if they remain in the property after the lease has expired.

This notice period may be longer if the tenancy agreement has run into a periodic tenancy. In this case, the amount of notice must be the same as the rental period, if it is more than two months. For example, if your tenant pays their rent every three months, you must give them three months’ notice. 

What happens after this time has passed?

If the Section 21 notice was properly served and you have provided two months' notice to the tenant, they will be expected to leave immediately. If they do not, landlords can issue possession proceedings against the tenant and begin the eviction process. 

In this scenario, landlords may begin to think about issuing a Section 8 notice to seek possession. This can be served when a tenant has broken the terms of their tenancy agreement, or for grounds including not paying rent, engaging in antisocial behaviour, or using the property for illegal or immoral purposes. Landlords must specify which lease terms the tenant has broken. In this case, it would be failing to adhere to a legally served Section 21 notice.  

If the tenant does not leave your property before the date specified on the Section 8 notice, you can issue standard possession proceedings. When making its decision, the court may consider your behaviour throughout the eviction process. This is why it is imperative that you follow the correct procedures and carry out your eviction within the bounds of the law.

If the court determines that your application is fair, they will grant you a possession order that will enable you to regain control of your property.

Can I ask a tenant to leave during a fixed-term agreement?

You are only able to ask a tenant to leave the property during a fixed-term agreement if you have a suitable reason for wanting possession under the Housing Act 1988. In such cases, you should file a Section 8 notice against the tenant, citing the reasons listed above. Other examples of potential grounds for eviction include:

  • Your tenants are in rent arrears
  • Your tenants are using the property for illegal purposes, like selling drugs
  • Your tenants are damaging your property
  • Your tenants are disturbing their neighbours

In addition to this, there may be a “break clause” in the original tenancy agreement. A break clause within the tenancy agreement gives the landlord or tenant the right to end a fixed-term tenancy agreement before the expiry of the fixed-term period. It has to be agreed upon by both parties before they sign the lease.

For this reason, it is vital to consult a legal professional before drawing up or signing a formal lease agreement, to make sure you understand the provisions of the contract, the responsibilities you must fulfil, and your rights.

How Can Percy Hughes & Roberts Help?

Understanding your rights as a landlord when a tenancy agreement ends is hugely important when thinking about evicting a tenant. Serving a legally compliant Section 21 notice and giving the tenant at least two months to leave the property will avoid any potential disputes down the line.

Based in Birkenhead, our specialist landlord team has been delivering the highest quality legal services for clients across the Wirral, Merseyside and the North West for more than 100 years. We understand that problems with tenants staying past the end of an expired lease and not vacating the property can be stressful and time-consuming. We can provide expert legal advice and instruct you on your next steps, and what you should do if a tenant refuses to leave.

Our landlord solicitors can help you with a range of issues relating to landlords and tenants, as we represent numerous residential landlords in the North West.

Contact Percy Hughes & Roberts

For more information on our landlord services, do not hesitate to contact our expert solicitors today. Call us on 0151 666 9090 for a no-obligation phone consultation, or send us your query by email by filling in our online contact form. We pride ourselves on offering expert advice that's easy to understand, and we will be with you through every step of the legal process.

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