How to end your tenancy

To end your tenancy, you must give your landlord enough warning in writing. Ending your tenancy correctly means your landlord cannot continue to charge you rent. It'll make it easier to get your deposit back.

Work out how much warning to give your landlord and then use our template letter to end your tenancy.

Check what type of tenancy you have

Knowing what kind of tenancy you have will help end your tenancy correctly. If you’re not sure either:

Your tenancy agreement is the contract you sign when you move in. It should say how much warning you need to give your landlord.

Check if you have a fixed term

Some types of tenancies have fixed terms. A fixed term is the initial period of time you rent your home for. It is often for 6 months or 1 year. This should be written in your tenancy agreement.

You'll probably have a fixed term if either:

  • you have an assured or short assured tenancy

  • you have a short Scottish secure tenancy

  • you live in purpose-built student accommodation

  • you live with your landlord

Other tenancies usually do not have a fixed term.

When you write to your landlord, make sure that the last day of your notice period is the same as the last day of your fixed term.

Ending your tenancy during the fixed term

Your tenancy agreement will say if you can end your tenancy early. This is sometimes called a break clause.

Otherwise, negotiate with your landlord. They might agree to end the tenancy early if you need to move out. Get any agreement in writing to avoid misunderstandings.

Check your notice period

You must give your landlord a specific amount of warning that you're moving out. This is called a notice period.

Once you tell your landlord you're leaving, you can move out at any time. You must pay rent until your notice period ends.

If you rent from the council or a housing association

Your notice period is 28 days. You can give this at any time

If you have a short Scottish secure tenancy, you can only end your tenancy at the end of the fixed term.

If you have a private residential tenancy

Your notice period is 28 days. You can give this at any time.

If your tenancy has a fixed term

Your tenancy agreement should say what your notice period is. If it does not say, usually your notice period is:

  • 28 days if your fixed term was less than 4 months

  • 40 days if your fixed term was more than 4 months

Make sure that the last day of your notice period is the same as the last day of your fixed term.

Ending your tenancy correctly

Step 1: before ending your tenancy

Check your notice period. If you're sending a letter or email, add 2 days to allow your landlord time to receive it.

Speak to the people you live with. If you’re a joint tenant or live with a family member, you might need their permission before you can end the tenancy.

Step 2: write to your landlord

You can send an email or a letter. Tell them:

  • your address

  • how long your notice period is

  • what day you will move out by

Use our template letter to know what to say.

Keep a copy of your letter or email. Send letters by recorded delivery and keep your emails.

Step 3: get ready to move out

  • tell your utility providers and the council tax department that you're moving out, and get final bills from them

  • make sure the property is clean and tidy

  • check your inventory to make sure all the items your landlord gave you are present and in good condition

  • find out how to get your deposit back

Your landlord needs your permission to arrange viewings while you still live there. You can refuse if it's at an unsuitable time.

You should get at least 24 hours' warning before they come round. If you have a private residential tenancy, you should get 48 hours.

Ending your joint tenancy correctly

A joint tenancy is when you sign the same tenancy agreement with one or more other people.

If you rent from the council or a housing association

If all joint tenants want to leave, you must all give notice.

If only one person wants to leave, they can give their own notice. Any remaining tenants will continue the tenancy.

If you have an assured or short assured tenancy

If one person gives the landlord notice, this ends the tenancy for everyone. Make sure you have the other tenants' permission before you do this.

If you have a private residential tenancy

If all joint tenants want to leave, you must all give notice. This can be done by:

  • signing the same written notice and posting it to your landlord

  • signing the same written notice and emailing a photo or scanned copy to your landlord

  • each tenant sending their own notice by email, making sure the notice expires on the same day

If you're the only person who wants to leave, you cannot give your own notice. You can ask your landlord's permission to sign your part of the tenancy over to the remaining tenants or a new tenant.

Get any agreement in writing, so that there are no misunderstandings.

If you're having problems getting out of a joint tenancy, get advice from a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Last updated: 9 August 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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