Q. My tenants' fixed term assured shorthold tenancy is coming to an end shortly, and I have asked them to sign a new fixed term agreement for another year. However, they say they don't want to do this and would prefer to stay on a month by month periodic basis. I can't be doing with this and have told them they will have to either sign or move out. However, they have now stopped speaking to me. If they still refuse to sign the agreement, presumably they won't have a tenancy anymore, so will I be able to go in and change the locks?
A. No! Under section 5 of the Housing Act 1988, when a fixed term tenancy ends, a periodic tenancy will then take its place. This is known as a 'statutory periodic tenancy' as it arises because the statute says it will. The periodic tenancy will be on the same terms and conditions as the preceding fixed term tenancy and the 'period' will relate to the period rent is paid - usually this is monthly. So your tenants WILL have a tenancy.
There is nothing you can do to stop this happening. Your tenant will be fully entitled to stay on after the end of the fixed term and if you go in and change the locks this will not only be a criminal offence (for which you can be prosecuted) but will also entitle the tenant to sue for substantial damages.