1st September 2020


Sometimes things don’t work out where you are living and you may wish to leave before the end of your housing contract or you may be leaving at the end of the tenancy, but want to make sure you get your deposit back. Whatever the reasons for leaving, check out the following information before you do and make sure you make a Smartmove.

  1. Leaving university or taking leave of absence
  2. Not leaving university or taking leave of absence
  3. Transfer
  4. I live in the private sector. What kind of contract do I have?
  5. How do I get out of my periodic tenancy?
  6. Can I sublet my room?
  7. Moving out tips

Leaving university or taking leave of absence

If you are leaving University or taking leave of absence, you can apply to be released from your contract. You will first need to complete and submit a Change of Status form. You then need to Email the Accommodation Office (accommodationoffice@sheffield.ac.uk) confirming the date you intend to leave. You will also need to return your keys. You will liable for the rent up to the date another student takes over your room, or the next payment date, whichever is the sooner.

Not leaving university or taking leave of absence

If you are not leaving University or taking leave of absence, you will not be released from your contract unless a replacement tenant takes over your room. The replacement must be acceptable to the University and cannot already be living in University or partnership accommodation. You can advertise for a replacement on the Accommodation Board (located just outside the Student Advice Centre) and on the Message Board on the University Studentpad website. You can also advertise on external websites such as Student Spareroom.


If you need to move but you would like to stay in University housing, you can apply for a transfer to another University property. Transfer requests are normally not accepted during the first 4 weeks of the academic year. It is only possible to transfer when a suitable vacancy occurs.

Find out more in the residence contract Terms & Conditions booklet.

I live in the private sector. What kind of contract do I have?

Most people who rent from private landlords have assured or assured shorthold contracts. These types of contracts can be -

  • Fixed term (eg 12 months).
  • Periodic (no fixed term).
  • Statutory periodic (fixed term has ended but the tenant has not moved out).

Most students in Sheffield will sign fixed term assured shorthold contracts.

How do I get out of a fixed term private contract?

Most fixed term contracts do not allow the tenant to leave before the end of the fixed term. Many landlords are willing to waive this provided the person leaving finds an acceptable replacement tenant. Alternatively, some landlords will agree to end a contract early in exchange for money. It is unusual for a landlord to simply release you and they do not have to even if for example you are withdrawing from University.

I have a joint tenancy, how do I get out of my contract?

If the contract is fixed term, no-one can get out unless everyone agrees. The person leaving is still liable for the rent unless the other joint tenants agree to pay it or a replacement tenant or a subtenant takes over the vacant room. Any replacement tenant or subtenant must be acceptable to the remaining joint tenants and landlord.

If the contract is periodic, one joint tenant giving notice brings the whole contract to an end, even if the other joint tenants don’t want to leave.

Top Tip

Usually the best solution is to find a replacement tenant for the room/property. You can advertise the room on the student message board or put up an advert on the Accommodation Board outside of the Student Advice Centre.(Pick up a post card from our reception) If you have a joint tenancy, it is best for all concerned to find a suitable replacement tenant who wants to live in the property and pay the rent. By accepting a replacement joint tenants can minimise any potential financial risks to themselves, should the outgoing tenant stop paying rent.

What can happen if I break the contract?

If you break your contract the landlord can take you to court and claim the rent due to the end of the fixed term plus costs and interest. If the landlord's claim is successful and judgement is made against you you must pay or you can get a county court judgement (CCJ) against you which can effect your future credit ratings. It is best to avoid such action where possible. If you are taken to court by the landlord for brealing the contract, you can sometimes make your own claim against the landlord (e.g. for serious repair problems). If you are in this position, please contact the Student Advice Centre for further advice.

If you have a joint tenancy then there is joint and several liability for the rent. This means that if one tenant leaves and stops paying rent the landlord could pursue the remaining joint tenants for any shortfall in rent. They will often try and pursue the person who has left for the unpaid rent but they can take legal action to recover the debt against all joint tenants, It is quite common for joint tenants to have their deposits witheld to cover any shortfall in rent owed by a joint tenant.

How do I get out of my periodic tenancy?

You are allowed to give notice when you want to leave. In most situations, the length of notice should be the same as the rental period e.g. monthly. In addition, the notice should normally expire at the end of a rental period.


A tenant pays rent on the 1st of every month. He gives notice on 19th September. The earliest date the notice can expire is 31st October.

Top Tip

Make sure that you give notice in writing.

Can I sublet my room?

Most housing contracts restrict or ban subletting. If you sublet without permission your landlord could go to court to evict you.

When you sublet you remain under contract to your landlord. This means you still have to pay your rent, even if your subtenant doesn’t pay you. You will also be responsible for any damage caused by your subtenant and may, in some circumstances, need a court order to make your subtenant leave.

Top Tip

If you have permission to sublet from your landlord, it is a good idea to have a written subletting agreement. Further advice on this is available from the Student Advice Centre.

Find out more about getting out of a University contract.

Moving out tips

Take final meter readings for electricity, gas and (if applicable) water on the last day of the tenancy. Contact the Utility suppliers to finalise the bills. Remember to keep proof of payment as you may need this to get your deposit back.

Clean the house thoroughly and don't leave it to the last minute. Follow any leaving procedures or instructions given by the landlord. Make sure that at least one member of the group attends the check-out inspection, if there is one and keeps a record. If this isn’t possible, the last person to leave should take photos or even a video of the house so you can prove that you left it in good condition.

Dispose of your rubbish responsibly and recycle as much as possible. The Students Union helps run recycling schemes, look out for information about this. In 2015 you can donate unwanted belongings to the British Heart Foundation. Anything that can’t be recycled and won’t fit into your black bin can be disposed of via the Red Sack scheme. Special BHF sacks and red sacks will be available to collect from the Student Advice Centre and propertywithUS from mid-May.

Return the keys. Many landlords give a time by which keys must be returned. If you return your keys late, you could be charged.

Arrange postal redirection (so you don’t lose important mail after you leave). You can find out about this at the royal mail website. It can also be a good idea to exchange forwarding addresses and contact numbers with your housemates. There may be things you need to sort out (such as getting everyone to pay their share of the final bills) or just to stay in touch. Don’t forget to tell the University and the police (for some international students) that you have moved.

Don’t forget about your deposit. It is likely that you have paid a deposit and this should have been protected by your landlord in a deposit protection scheme. Check that it is protected if you have not done so. If your landlord does not refund your deposit and you do not agree with the deductions made then you may wish to register a dispute. Be aware that some deposit protection schemes have a 90 day time limit on registering a dispute, so it’s important not to miss this. Find out more about deposits or pick up a free Deposits Handbook from the Student Advice Centre.

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