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Can I End My Tenancy Agreement Early?
When a tenant wants to leave before end of their contract, it can be quite complicated for both the landlord and tenant in question. This article aims to shed light on this important area of property law by discussing what it means for both landlords and tenants and also to explain the nuances behind certain types of tenancy agreements, including fixed-term tenancy agreements.
For Tenants – If you are a tenant, you might encounter an issue that pushes you to consider terminating your tenancy agreement early.
Maybe you’ve been admitted to a hospital for a long time, and you’re afraid that your rent arrears might go overboard if you don’t do anything about it. Or you’ve just received a work transfer request. It could be that COVID-19 restrictions have made you unable to resume the rented property.
Whatever the reason you want to find out if early tenancy agreement termination is possible, this article has got you covered.
For Landlords – If you are a landlord, you may have a situation on your hands where a tenant wants to leave before end of contract. If so, then this article is also for you.
Remember You Have a Contract
If you are a tenant who wants to leave before end of contract you muts remember that there is a tenancy contract in place between yourself and your landlord or property management company, so you need to bear in mind that you have an obligation to pay the rental fee for the stipulated period.
You must make sure you stick to the confines of the contract. You can’t just wake up one day and decide to vacate the property. Giving your landlord a vacation notice might not be helpful in some instances. Even with the notice, you might be compelled to continue paying your normal rent even after you’ve moved out from the property.
Type of Tenancy Agreement
When you approach Gulbenkian Andonian tenant solicitors for legal advice concerning the possibilities of ending your tenancy agreement early, the first thing they’ll seek to know is the type of tenancy agreement they’re dealing with. This is because there are several types of tenancy agreements, each with its unique terms.
Your UK tenancy agreement could be a licence to occupy, a fixed tem assured shorthold tenancy agreement (ASTA), an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy. Let’s see what’s in each of these agreement types.
A Licence to Occupy
A licence to occupy refers to a personal tenancy agreement in which a licensor (a property owner) allows you (a licensee) to occupy their property for a short period ranging from 6 to 12 months.
In this case, the permitted property occupation is non-exclusive, meaning that the property owner can decide to co-occupy the premises with you or allow other occupants into the property. For instance, your rented room could be within your landlord’s house, where they live with their family.
A Fixed Term Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
In an assured shorthold tenancy, you, the tenant, are allowed to stay in a leasehold property for a fixed term (time period), normally six months or 1 year. However, you have more privacy as compared to when having a licence to occupy because you don’t share occupancy rights with your landlord during the agreement period.
An Assured Tenancy
In English land law, an assured tenancy is a form of residency tenancy that allows an individual or joint tenant to occupy a rental house as their principal home for at least five years. Once the tenancy period lapses, the renewal of the agreement is exclusively at the discretion of the landlord.
This form of agreement gives you the right to remain in a rental property of a private landlord for life. So, it is the most long-term agreement you can enter with the landlord. However, your agreement with the private property owner must have been made before 15th January 1989 for it to qualify as regulated tenancy in the UK.
What’s in Your Contract?
Besides indicating the period of time you’re allowed to occupy a rental/leasehold property, your agreement for tenancy should show:
- The amount of rent payable
- When you should pay the rent
- Information on whether the contract can be terminated early
- The allowed circumstances for early agreement termination (if possible, to terminate the contract). This is called a break clause.
- Information on how agreement termination notice should be communicated
- If you’re allowed to sub-let the property you’ve rented under any circumstance, for instance, if you want to vacate, but your tenant isn’t ready to terminate the agreement before the agreed-upon time.
A Break Clause Can Be Helpful
If you have identified a break clause in your tenancy agreement, then things might be easy for you as you try to pursue the subsequent steps for an early tenancy contract termination process. Sometimes there is by default a 6 month break clause in the contract however you would need to check this.
There’s no structured way in which a break clause should be included in a contract. However, if present, the clause should indicate the period or specific dates on which you should give your landlord notice to terminate your tenancy early.
It is worth noting that this clause is not mandatory in tenancy agreements. So, in case your landlord presents you with an agreement that excludes it, you can request its inclusion for your convenience in case you want to end your contract early in future.
Considering the conditions set in the clause, communicate your intention to end your agreement to your landlord or agent appropriately. It is advisable to give your reason for wanting to end your tenancy early in the communication.
Remember your landlord/agent is human too and can relate to some of the issues that you face, and be compassionate enough to respond positively to your request. Make sure to be as polite as possible in the communication.
How do I end a fixed-term tenancy agreement?
If you are wondering if you can end your fixed term tenancy agreement, this will depend on the content of the agreement itself and how much notice you must give your landlord before you are allowed to leave the property.
If you are renting your property under a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy agreement, then you will be responsible for paying the rent set out for the duration of the agreement. You can only break this agreement early for a few reasons that include:
• The tenancy agreement that has been signed between you and your landlord may contain a break clause as described above that states that you can end your fixed-term tenancy agreement early.
• Your landlord suggests ending the agreement early. If they do so, they should confirm this in writing.
If you decide that you would like to break your fixed term tenancy agreement, please bear in mind that some fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy agreements do not, in fact, end on the date of expiry but will continue unless you actually give notice to your landlord that you plan on leaving the property. This is why it is absolutely crucial to check the terms and conditions of your contract to know what would be the best suitable action for you.
Agree With Your Landlord
Suppose you fail to use the break clause appropriately, perhaps because of not observing the indicated timelines or failing to provide the necessary disclosures. In that case, that’s not the end of the road.
You can try to reach out to your landlord or agent for an off-contract tenancy termination agreement. This approach is also applicable if your tenancy contract doesn’t feature a break clause.
Write to the agent or landlord, informing them why you’d like to have your agreement ended early. Whether it’s something to do with domestic issues, education, work, or health concern, be frank and friendly enough to convince them that your request is not in bad faith.
In some instances, landlords and agents are hesitant to agree on early tenancy termination. They are afraid of losing rental income if they fail to find new tenants to replace those who’ve left.
If your agent or property owner raises such a concern, you can help them get your replacement by marketing the property you intend to vacate online and face-to-face. Also, you can suggest potential tenants from your social circle, if any.
What If My Request is Declined?
Your landlord or agent might fail to honour the break clause promise even after you’ve fulfilled all the outlined conditions. In such a case, it’s important to involve tenant solicitors such as Gulbenkian Andonian for professional advice.
Otherwise, if a break clause is out of the picture and the property owner/manager won’t agree on early agreement termination, you can still vacate the property and let them know you’ve moved out. Additionally, inform them that they’re free to initiate a new tenancy for your replacement. However, remember that you’re expected to continue to pay your normal rent on time until another tenant occupies your space.
Alternatively, you can sub-let the rental property to other tenants and leave if your contract allows for such an arrangement.
We Are at Your Service
So, yes, you can end your tenancy agreement early. Nonetheless, certain factors, including the willingness of the landlord and the availability of the break clause, influence the success of the contract termination. Are you a tenant or a landlord who wants to terminate a tenancy agreement early? Get all the grey areas in the process clarified by our team of landlord and tenant solicitors.
Ask our Expert Legal Team
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Neither Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors ltd, nor their employees, agents, consultants or assignees, accept any liability based on the contents of written articles which are meant for guidance only and not as legal advice. We advise all readers to take professional advice before acting. If you would like to consult with a professional lawyer or solicitor to discuss your case, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.