Tenants entitlement to rent repayments

There may be some circumstances where a residential tenant is entitled to a refund or repayment of rent they have paid. Read this guide to find out the circumstances where a tenant may be able to request a refund on all or part of the rent paid.

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Can a tenant leave a rented property before the tenancy period ends?

A tenant can leave a rented property early if they want to. The tenant is still liable to pay rent for the property, until the agreement ends or the landlord begins letting the property to new tenants. Once new tenants move into the property, the old tenant's obligations to pay rent ends, which may entitle the old tenant to a refund of rent already paid.

If there is a break clause in the tenancy agreement, then the tenant will need to give the correct notice that is stated in the contract. However, if a break clause is used, then the tenant's won't need to continue paying rent.

Repayment of rent - after service of a section 21 notice

If the landlord, or landlord's agents serve a section 21 notice on the tenant, which forces the tenant to leave the property, the tenant must be repaid any rent paid for the rental period that they were not at the property. The formula used is R x D/P where:

  • R is the rent paid
  • D is the number of days for which the tenant was not in occupation of the property
  • P is the number of whole days that rent was paid

Scenario A

Facts: Mr A has an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) for 12 months, with rent being paid monthly (eg £1,000) in advance on the 1st of the month for that month (ie the rental period is for the whole month). The tenancy includes a break clause of 6 months. Mr A's landlord served a section 21 notice, with the expiry date falling in the middle of the month (eg 15th of the month). Mr A complies with the section 21 notice and vacates the property on the 15th. Mr A is entitled to a refund of the portion of the rent that was paid for the whole month because he paid a month's rent, but was evicted partway through the rental period.

Answer: Using the above formula with January as an example month, the calculation would be £1000 x (16/31) = £516.13. This means that the landlord would need to refund Mr A a total of £516.13 of the rent paid for the month as Mr A was evicted and left midway through the month.

Scenario B

Facts: Mrs B has an AST for six months, with no break clause. The section 21 notice cannot be served until after four months into the tenancy from the original start date. If the tenancy started on the 1 January, notice cannot be served any earlier than 1 May. If notice is served on 2 May, and the tenant refused to leave, possession proceedings cannot commence until 2 months later, being 2 July. If the landlord went to court and got a possession order for the 21 July, then the tenant would have to leave on that date by order of the court. If the tenant pays rent in advance for the whole rental period for July, they would need to be refunded a portion of the prepaid rent.

Answer: Using the above formula with rent being £1,500, the month is July and the date the tenant left being 21 July, the calculation would be £1,500 x (10/31) = £483.87. As Mrs B wasn't in occupation of the property for 10 days of the month, they will need to be refunded a portion of the rent they paid.

Repayment of rent - mutual agreement to end the fixed-term tenancy

A tenancy agreement can be terminated if both the landlord and tenant both agree to end the tenancy early, even if there is no break clause in the tenancy agreement. For further information read Surrendering a tenancy.

Scenario A

Facts: Mrs C has an AST for 12 months, but has decided that she wants to leave the property. She has ended her tenancy early with the landlord by mutual agreement. She pays rent in advance on the first of every month for that whole month (eg from 1 March to 31 March). She leaves the property on 10 March. The landlord was able to re-let the property with a new tenant moving in on the 20 March. Would Mrs D be entitled to a refund of the rent?

Answer: Mrs C is entitled to a refund of some of the rent, but only for the period that the new tenant took over the property and was in occupation. This is because the landlord should not have re-let the property until the end of Mrs C's rent period (ie until after 31 March) because Mrs C is still technically the occupier of the property, until the new tenant moves in.

Mrs D is entitled to a refund based on the number of days which the new tenant is in occupation (eg 11 days from the 20 March to 31 March). Mrs D has paid £2,000 for the rental period of March, therefore the calculation would be £2,000 x (11/31) = £709.68.

If you're unsure whether your tenant is entitled to a refund of rent, or whether your landlord should be refunding you a portion of the rent, Ask a lawyer.

Get started

Create your Section 21 (Form 6A) notice

Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest