When to serve notice on your rent

Published: 23rd Dec, 2023

Author: Charlotte Burton

When to serve notice on your rent

If you are currently renting, it can be difficult to coordinate ending your tenancy with moving into your new home. The most important thing to start with is checking how your tenancy contract allows you to end your tenancy. Then, you need to think about what date to serve notice on your rental. You should wait until your exchange date to serve notice if you possibly can. However, some tenancy contracts will make this very difficult financially.

📃 Review your tenancy contract

Most people who rent from private landlords have an “assured shorthold tenancy”. Most of those start with a fixed period of 6 or 12 months. At the end of the fixed period, you can either leave, agree to another fixed period, or move onto a rolling contract, often called a periodic tenancy.

If you are on a rolling contract, you only have to give 1 month’s notice to your landlord in order to end the tenancy.

If you are still within the fixed period of a tenancy, with 2+ months left to go on the fixed period, leaving is more complicated. Check if your contract has a break clause, allows you to assign the tenancy to someone else, or allows you to sublet. If it does not, talk to your landlord. Otherwise, you have no choice but to pay rent until the end of the fixed period 😱

📆 When should I serve notice on my rental?

You should wait until exchange of contracts has happened before serving notice on your rental if you possibly can.

Before exchange, there is no guarantee that the sale of the home will go through, as no one is legally committed to the sale until exchange. The date you get the keys (completion) also isn’t guaranteed until exchange, when it is legally agreed.

If you hand in your notice on your rented property before exchange, you are taking a risk that you could end up with nowhere to live if the sale fell through, or was delayed.

If this happened to you, you could:

  • Find temporary accommodation. This can be expensive.
  • Ask friends or family to put you up for a while. You would still have to take the time (and possibly pay) to move all your possessions out of your rented place, and then a second time into your new home when the sale goes through.
  • Find a new place to rent. You would probably get locked into a fixed period of tenancy, making this very expensive if the sale of your home was only delayed by a few weeks.

💸Does that mean I have to pay both rent & mortgage for a while?

Not necessarily, though it will depend on the tenancy of your rented place.

Let me explain:

  • Exchange is not the day your mortgage starts.
  • Completion, which tends to happen 1-4 weeks after exchange, is the day your mortgage starts (or a few days earlier, when your conveyancer gets the money from your lender). But completion is not the day you make your first mortgage payment.
  • The month after completion is when you make your first mortgage payment.

The key part is that your mortgage comes out at the end of the month, whereas in most cases rent is paid at the start of the month. This means that even if your rent & mortgage are overlapping for 1 month, i.e. the end date of your rental is 1 month after completion date, you won’t pay out the cash for both at the same time.

Remember that you’re handing in your notice at exchange, not completion. You can ask for time between exchange & completion to start the clock ticking on your notice period before your mortgage starts (on completion), reducing the overlap between your rent & mortgage.

Unless your notice period or remaining fixed period is 2+ months, or you want to do major renovation work on your new home that will take more than 1 month, you won’t have to pay rent & mortgage at the same time.

➕ More example scenarios

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