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What happens at the end of the fixed term

Usually any tenancy agreement has a term. The term is the period in weeks or months or years that you and the landlord are obligated to stick to. If it says a 12 month tenancy then that’s what you are legally obliged to do, unless there are circumstances arising, covered within the tenancy that allows you to terminate it earlier.

At the end of the fixed term people sometimes think that tenants who stay on after their fixed term has ended are "squatters" with no right to be there. Actually, if the tenant does not want to move out, a landlord must service a two months notice, get a court order for possession and then instruct the County Court bailiffs before they can get the property back.

With assured and assured shorthold tenancies (AST) section 5 of The Housing Act 1988 specifically provides that if tenants stay on after the end of their fixed term, the law will create a new tenancy, a statutory tenancy (because it is created by statute). This will be a periodic tenancy, starting immediately after their fixed term ends, and will run on from month to month or from week to week. The period will depend on how and when the rent is paid. Apart from this, all the terms and conditions of the preceding fixed term tenancy will continue to apply.

This is not the case with common law tenancies. However if in fact the tenant stays on and the landlord accepts rent from him, a periodic tenancy will be implied.

Also tenants and landlords should make it very clear when the term starts and when it ends so as to avoid any confusion.

Tenancy agreements should avoid using such word as "from" as traditional interpretation rules say that if from is used the term will actually start the following day. Its more correct to say "starts on" or "commences". It is will be a good idea to write the date when the fixed term will come to an end, but not write "six months". Also there is a good to have the time of day the tenancy will end.

e.g. The tenancy will commence on the 1st June 2011 for six months and end on the 31st December 2011 at midday. Rather than the tenancy starts from the 1st June 2011 and runs for six months.


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