Student housing - ending your agreement in halls
Students aren’t always aware that they enter into a legal contract when they sign a tenancy or licence agreement. An agreement must be ended properly when you move out.
The rules on ending an agreement vary and this page highlights those most relevant to students in halls of residence and other university accommodation.
If you have a fixed term agreement
Most students in halls of residence will have a fixed term agreement. This means that you have agreed to rent your accommodation for a certain period of time. In most cases the fixed term will be the academic year.
In halls of residence, you generally have to move out on the day that the fixed term agreement runs out without having to give notice to your landlord. This is because the agreement between you and your landlord ends when the fixed term ends.
If you have a fixed term agreement and for some reason you want to move out of halls before the end of the fixed term, you can only end the agreement early if:
- there is a term in your agreement, known as a break clause, which allows you to end the agreement early. The break clause should say how much notice you have to give, or
- your landlord agrees to you ending the agreement early. This is called surrender.
If you leave before the end of the fixed term without your landlord’s consent, you are liable to pay the rent until the fixed term ends even if you aren’t living there.
You should speak to your landlord if you need to move out before the end of the fixed term.
If you have a periodic agreement
A periodic agreement is one that runs from one rent period to the next, for example, from month to month.
Periodic agreements are likely to be less common in halls of residence. However, if you do have one, you are expected to give notice to end the periodic agreement. This is called a ‘notice to quit’. If you don't give the correct period of notice to end your agreement you may remain responsible for paying the rent.
To be valid the notice to quit must:
- be in writing, and
- give your landlord at least 28 days' notice, or, if the tenancy or licence period is longer, for example, you pay rent every calendar month, the notice must be for the same period, and
- expire on the last day or the first day of a complete period of the tenancy or licence. For example, if the rent is paid on the 20th of each month, the notice must run out on the 19th or the 20th. If you are not sure about when your notice should end, you should check with an adviser.
It’s best to keep a copy of the written notice that you give your landlord. If you are posting it, you should use recorded delivery or some other signed for service.
You should also ensure that the letter is dated and clearly sets out the date that you will be leaving.
Getting your deposit back
If you paid a deposit at the beginning of your tenancy or licence, it should be returned to you. The codes that universities sign up to say that deposits should be returned within 28 days of your agreement ending.
It's reasonable for your landlord to take money off the deposit to cover some things. For example, damage to the property or furniture or outstanding rent that you owe. Your landlord should not deduct money to cover damage that could be regarded as fair wear and tear.
If you're having problems getting your deposit back or are unhappy about deductions, you should speak to your accommodation manager in the first instance.
If you don't think that the problem has been resolved then you can consider making a complaint using the Code of Standards or Code of Practice that your university has signed up to. Your students' union may be able to help you with this.