I don’t know whether to renew my tenancy

Q. I’m looking to buy a property but my tenancy has come to an end and my landlord is asking if I want to renew. What should I do?

A: Ending your tenancy can be quite a stressful time as you’re not sure whether to be upfront with your landlord or not, and your relationship with your landlord will play a big part in this. If you are on very good terms, your landlord may be willing to let your tenancy roll onto what’s known as a ‘periodic tenancy’; this is where the tenancy is not renewed, it just continues to roll. The landlord must serve you two months’ notice for you to leave and you must serve one months’ notice. However, be aware that the notice needs to be served on the rental payment date.

Letting your tenancy roll would be the ideal scenario and is just one of many reasons why it pays to build a good relationship with your landlord, but this isn’t always possible. Many landlords want certainty and for their tenants to make the commitment of formally renewing. Equally, landlords don’t want to leave themselves open to a tenant serving notice at an awkward time of year, such as at Christmas.

If your landlord isn’t flexible and insists on renewing the tenancy, I suggest you renegotiate the terms. You don’t necessarily need to disclose that you’re house hunting, but you could negotiate a shorter break clause such as being able to serve two months’ notice after four months. This means you could vacate as early as six months into the new tenancy. Given that it often takes approximately eight weeks to complete on a property once you’ve actually agreed a purchase, six months can go by quickly.

If you find a property sooner than that, your landlord may release you early, but it would usually be on the condition that a replacement tenant is found and that you will incur any pro rata fees such as re-letting fees faced by the landlord; these can add up so make sure to do the sums. Of course, if you are able to agree a longer completion date for your purchase to tie in with the end of your tenancy agreement then that would be the ideal. Just be sure that, whatever you do, you don’t serve notice on your rental property until you have exchanged contracts on your purchase, as it can fall apart at any time and you don’t want to find yourself homeless.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email info@sourcingproperty.co.uk or tweet her @joeccles.