Deed of Surrender – Landlord and Tenant Q&A

by Readers Question

13:41 PM, 20th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Deed of Surrender – Landlord and Tenant Q&A

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Deed of Surrender – Landlord and Tenant Q&A

Dear Readers,

If a tenant signs a tenancy surrender form (Deed of Surrender), but subsequently changes their mind and refuses to move out or return the keys, is the landlord legally allowed to change the locks and deny the tenant access? Would this then be in breach of the Protection from Eviction Act?

Putting it slightly differently:
If the tenant has surrendered the tenancy, by signing a tenancy surrender form, but remains in occupation, are they then an illegal squatter?

Does a landlord need a court order to evict them, or is there a different lawful way of getting them out?

Many Thanks

RobertGood Question


Robert Mellors

21:53 PM, 28th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "28/02/2014 - 12:28":

Mark, I posted about using licence agreements on 24/12/13, and gave further explanations later in the same thread. If you read this, particularly my last posting in the thread it may give you an idea of why I think I am creating licences rather than tenancies. These have also been seen by the local Council, the Citizens Advice Bureau, and Shelter, and the feedback I've received is that they probably are genuine licence agreements not tenancies (pretending to be licences).

Tessa, if indeed my occupancy agreements are licences, and thus a contract to use a property week by week (ongoing, not a fixed term), then is a "Tenancy/Licence Surrender" document of any use? and if so how best should it be used?
and equating it back to the original question, if a resident (licensee) signs such a document (as a deed, or otherwise) but then changes his mind and refuses to leave, what is the legal position then?

Tessa Shepperson

22:11 PM, 28th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "28/02/2014 - 21:53":

A license is a contract so you are bound by the terms of that contract. Which will be what you agree with the occupier.

If a licensee refuses to leave then under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 - you need to get a court order for possession. As they were never tenants and are (after the ending of their license) in the property without your license or consent - you use the special court procedure for trespassers.

I have a DIY kit which covers how to use the procedure to evict traditional squatters : If there were sufficient demand I could adapt this for residential licenses I suppose.

Anthony Wilson

16:33 PM, 21st March 2014
About 7 years ago

re deed of surrender..

first question.. who drafted the deed of surrender.. did the tenant have independent legal advice.. was he or she co-erced nto signing.. a deed to surrender on a future date is not enforceable against a residential tenant.. eg for compensation or a payment of some kind as I understand it as an illegal unenforceable contract.. we have often been advised how to secure possession against Rent Act protected tenants in exchange (often ) for a large capital payment. In such situations we recommend that three things take place simultaneously;-

1 A deed of surrender is drawn up and executed.
2 The tenant vacates
3 A locksmith stands by to change the locks.

All three events take place simultaneously and the deed is dated at the moment of completion and money (often held in a solicitors office on the basis of a solicitors undertaking to release) when vacant possession given. Often if a large compensation payment is involved the tenant has an independent solicitor acting.

Sometimes in central London compensation payments can exceed £1m to the tenant for example.

In terms of all occupants i agree with Yvette Newbury .. a court order is always required.. so it is best to take the simultaneous approach I recommend above., because the courts are unreliable and time consuming as well as the process being expensive,.,

However there is a website run by the government called

if a landlord wants to remove a tenant who is an assured shorthold tenant and needs to secure a court order.. you have to be careful to ensure all the formalities are correct as otherwise judges have a habit of throwing cases out if they have errors and are defended,

Katy Kirkland

21:55 PM, 18th June 2015
About 6 years ago

Hi there
I realise I am replying to a very old thread but I just hope that those of you who took such an interest in this issue last time can offer me your views once again. To give you a bit of background the landlord in this instance is actually my grandmother. Unfortunately she has no legal experience which sadly means in some cases she has made matters worse I believe. We have a tenant which seems to know every trick in the book!

Here is the predicament: The tenant is a sole female, lets call her Sharon. The agreement was a fixed term agreement for 7 years and it does contain a break clause stating that if the tenant wishes to end the tenancy then she must provide 4 weeks notice. The tenant fell behind with rent. We were starting proceedings for s21. She admitted she could afford the property. She then agreed to sign a surrender letter which stated that she "relinquished all rights to the property with immediate effect." This was not witnessed but was signed by both the tenant and the landlord. I do not believe the fact that it was not witnessed invalidates this.

However it was agreed that the landlord would give her time to vacate the property and find somewhere else. Really the landlord should not have done this as there was no obligation to. A letter was sent to the tenant stating she had until the 1st June to vacate. She is still there! There was another tenant lined up and the tenant had not paid rent for some 4 months. The landlord is not asking for a penny off the tenant and to be honest simply wants shut of her for various reasons.

Sharon is now refusing to leave the property. There has been no offer of rent (and we do not want to accept any as this may constitute a separate tenancy). We can't see any option but to get a court order. The question is on what grounds do we get her out. N5 form - trespass or do we go back to s21. If indeed we do go back to s21 then do we have to start the process again ie two months notice etc etc. It's amazing how the tenants seem to do exactly as they like despite
Any comments or views would be appreciated.

Robert Mellors

22:46 PM, 18th June 2015
About 6 years ago

Hi Katy

Forget the surrender letter, it perhaps cannot be relied upon. Use the s21 process, and the s8 process, to get her out (if the tenancy is valid).

I cannot understand why you would have given her a 7 year tenancy agreement, and it may be that this in itself is invalid as I believe there are rules about long term leases (tenancies) having to be drawn up and signed and witnessed as a DEED, and also being registered with the Land Registry.

It sounds like everything has been done in the worst way possible so far, so I would strongly suggest that you perhaps use a professional service to co-ordinate the whole eviction process from start to finish, e.g. like that provided by Landlord Action, which appears to be recommended quite a lot on here (though I have not used them personally).

Mark Alexander

22:52 PM, 18th June 2015
About 6 years ago

Section 21 is not valid during a fixed term tenancy. You may well have grounds to evict under section 8 though and the notice period required before applying to the Courts for a possession order is only two weeks. However, a section 8 notice can be defended.

I agree with Robert regarding calling in professional help, i.e. Landlord Action. I also agree with Robert that there is no such thing as a 7 year AST. I have no idea what the Courts would make of that.

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