Q. My tenants vacated at the end of the fixed term of the contract with no notice whatsoever despite there being a clause in the contract requiring that they should give at least one month’s written notice to the Landlord in the event that they wish to vacate at the end of the fixed term. My argument is that due to the tenant’s failure to give the required notice I should be entitled to claim a deduction from their deposit in lieu of one month rent, is this possible and something my deposit protector and adjudicator would allow?
A. I hear you, however the tenant of a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy is entitled to end the tenancy by giving the landlord vacant possession at the end of the fixed term. In general no notice of termination is necessary, unless the term originally granted gave rise to a contractual rather than a statutory periodic tenancy. As the tenants gave vacant possession at the end of the fixed term, both the tenancy and the tenant’s liability to pay rent ended on the last day of the fixed term. No tenancy deposit scheme would therefore make an award for this from a rent claim. Although having said that the tenant was in breach of contract having not giving the required notice so compensation for this could be sought but only for an amount that would put the landlord back into the position he would have been had they served notice. The landlord also has an obligation to keep his losses at a minimum by for example checking in with the tenants prior to the expiry of the AST to explore whether they intend to stay or not. Whilst compensation may be able to be sought it would be in the hands of the landlord to prove that their failure to serve notice has resulted in financial loss. Going forward I would highly recommend that you communicate with any new tenants in plenty of time ahead of a contract expiring to explore their position to prevent this type of scenario arising again. That being said the majority of tenants would always consider it an obligation to serve notice given it is a clause within any legal tenancy agreement so this shouldn’t be something that would normally occur rather the exception to the rule.