A lease can come to an end in a number of different ways. You should prepare for the end of your lease term in advance and consider the following before you vacate the property:
If you provided a rent deposit to your landlord, this should be repaid following the expiry of the lease. Check the terms of the rent deposit for details of timescales and any withdrawals the landlord is permitted to make before returning the balance to you.
Your lease will require you to return the property to the landlord in the state and condition required by the lease. This is the case even if the property was in disrepair at the time you took the lease, although if your repairing covenant is limited to a schedule of condition, your liability will be limited to returning the property in the condition shown in the schedule. If your repairing covenant is not limited to a schedule of condition, you will likely need to leave the property in the state of repair and condition anticipated by the repairing, decorating, reinstatement and yielding up provisions set out in the lease. This may require you to carry out works to the property before returning it.
Your lease may also include specific obligations to comply with at the end of the lease term, such as decorating and replacing floor coverings. Depending on the wording of the lease or any licence for alterations that might exist, you may also be required to remove/re-instate any alterations made during the term and make good any damage. You should check the terms of your lease and any licences carefully for these obligations.
It is also common for a landlord to inspect the property before or shortly after the end of the term to assess whether it has been left in the condition required by the lease. If the landlord considers that it is not, it will serve a schedule of dilapidations setting out the breaches found on inspection and the likely losses suffered. You are also likely to be responsible for your landlord’s costs associated with preparing and serving the schedule of dilapidations. Whether a landlord can ultimately bring a claim for dilapidations is not guaranteed and there may be arguments that you can raise which helps you to reduce any claim brought against you, or to nullify it completely.
As mentioned above, your lease or a licence for alterations may require you to reinstate all or some of the alterations you have made to the property prior to the end of the term. You will need to check the wording carefully to ascertain whether the default position requires you to reinstate or not. Generally, the lease will either:
- Require you to reinstate the alterations unless the landlord tells you otherwise
- Not require you to reinstate the alterations unless the landlord asks you to
You will need to vacate the premises and take all your belongings with you, although the lease may include provisions requiring the landlord to return any items you have forgotten or permit the landlord to sell any items that you have left behind. You should also return the keys/entry codes to the landlord or their agent and take any meter readings.
Our real estate disputes team can assist you with any disputes regarding rent deposits or disputes in relation to a schedule of dilapidations. Our team can also put you in touch with recommended dilapidations surveyors who will be able to assess the potential level of claim and advise you on the works you might need to undertake to minimise any potential claim and negotiate the claim on your behalf. To put you in the best position, it is recommended you seek expert advice at least 12-18 months ahead of lease expiry. If you are able to agree a settlement with your landlord, our team can also assist with documenting the agreement.