Tenant wants to end their private residential tenancy

When a tenant wants to end their private residential tenancy.

This content applies to Scotland

How to give notice

A tenant may bring their private residential tenancy to an end either, with the landlord’s full agreement or by giving the required amount of notice. [1]

Notice fulfills the statutory requirements if it:

  • Is given freely without coercion of any kind

  • It is in writing and

  • It states the day on which the tenancy is to end, this must be the day after the last day of the minimum notice period.

A notice can be considered to be valid without meeting the above if the landlord agrees to the tenancy ending in writing. [2]

The minimum notice period is either: [3]

  • be the length of time agreed in writing between landlord and tenant (it can be shorter than 28 days if this is agreed between parties).

  • If there is no such valid agreement then 28 days minimum notice

If the tenant then changes their mind about leaving the legislation allows the landlord to agree to this if they choose to.  

Ending the a private residential tenancy upon mutual agreement

Where a landlord and tenant mutually agree on an alternative arrangement to end a tenancy, the Upper Tribunal has clarified that this can vary the terms of the lease that requires the tenant to give notice. In this case the tenants and landlord exchanged messages confirming a mutually beneficial solution to end the tenancy as soon as the tenants found alternative accommodation. [4]

Joint tenants

Where there are joint tenants all of them must agree to give notice. [5] Where this cannot be agreed a tenant wishing to leave may ask the landlord to assign the tenancy to the remaining tenants (or a new party). See the section on assignation.

If the landlord refuses to assign the tenancy then this may be problematic. The landlord is not obliged to agree to the assignation nor is the remaining tenant obliged to agree to end the contract. Potentially this could mean the tenant who wishes to leave is contractually liable for the rent for so long as the tenancy continues.

Where joint tenants are married, in a civil partnership or are cohabiting they may be able to transfer the tenancy into a sole name. [6] See the section on Relationship breakdown for more details.  

However there is no such protection for joint tenants who are not a couple. The tribunal rules allow for civil proceedings to be raised in relation to private residential tenancies [7] but this has yet to be tested and it is not clear on what basis in law an action could be raised.

Eviction when a private residential tenant gives notice but does not move out

The First-tier Tribunal has confirmed that a private residential tenancy ends when the tenant’s notice to leave expires. If they do not move out by the tenancy termination date and no request to continue the tenancy is made, they will become a non-tenant occupier.

In this instance, the former tenant no longer has any right or title to occupy the property, and can be evicted under section 23 of the Rent Scotland Act 1984. [8] The tribunal has the jurisdiction to evict in this instance. [9]

Last updated: 14 June 2022

Footnotes

  • [1]

    ss.48 and 49 Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Act 2016

  • [2]

    s.49(2) Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Act 2016

  • [3]

    s.49(3) Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Act 2016

  • [4]

    Linden & Linden vs MacPherson UTS/AP/21/0038

  • [5]

    Graham v Stirling, 1992 S.C. 90 particularly the comments of Lord Skerrington at 107

  • [6]

    s.13(9) Matrimonial Homes and Family Protection (Scotland Act 1981

  • [7]

    s.111 The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber (Procedure) Regulations 2017 SSI 2017/328

  • [8]

    Para 15-18 of Lowson vs Raghunathan Fairley FTS/HPC/EV/21/2029

  • [9]

    s.71 Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016