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Can You End a Tenancy Early?

26 October 2020 Simon Banks Read time: 2 min
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Simon Banks

In an ideal world, you’ll never need to end a tenancy early and will thoroughly enjoy the living experience in your home. Circumstances, however, do arise. On occasion, you might need to move out of your rented home before the tenancy comes to an end.

If you find yourself in such a scenario, this guide is for you. We’re looking at the rules and regulations around ending a tenancy early and what it means for renters. So, read on and find out if you can end a tenancy earlier than planned.

*Tenancies during Covid

The current climate has seen a growing number of renters wonder if they can end their tenancy early, as financial and unforeseen circumstances have meant that some renters are unable to carry on with their tenancies.

Person with a face mask showing love during Covid

It’s important to note that the Coronavirus Act is a piece of legislation that means landlords can’t begin possession proceedings unless they have given six months’ notice. However, if you need to leave on your own accord, the following advice will come in handy...

How does a tenancy work?

Most renters and landlords enter into a contract which is typically known as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). The length of these contracts depend on the agreement you have with the landlord, but the general time is 12 months. 

Therefore, you are bound to the initial length of that contract. Technically, if you leave before the terms expire, you could face legal action from the landlord. Once an AST finishes, renters either extend, or it moves onto a rolling contract, which means you can leave at any time as long as you provide one month’s notice.

Can you end your tenancy early?

Again, an early end to your tenancy can leave you open to legal action from the landlord. For example, if you’re seven months into a 12-month contract and wish to leave the property, the landlord is within their rights to reject your request.

Someone giving the keys back

Should you then move without an agreement with the landlord, you could be sued for the remaining rental amount owed plus extras. This, of course, is the worst-case scenario and isn’t something that happens regularly between renters and landlords.

Ways to end your tenancy early

Fortunately, in most cases, there are ways to end the tenancy early. This is especially true if you take precautions beforehand to safeguard yourself against any possible issues that may arise during the contract.

Get a break clause

The best way to end a tenancy early is through the use of a break clause. Break clauses are inserted into most ASTs, giving both the landlord and renter a get out of jail free card, if you will, without facing any liability.

Break clauses usually kick in around half-way through the agreed contract, and you can invoke them with one month's notice. If you think you might need to end a tenancy early, ask for a break clause in the contract.

Negotiate a surrender with your landlord

Don’t worry; negotiating a surrender with your landlord isn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds. Essentially, this method sees you agreeing with the landlord to end the tenancy early without repercussions.

Be upfront about how long you plan to stay

There are times where unforeseen circumstances mean you need to leave early (such as a job offer in a far-away location). However, you should be open and honest if you know beforehand that you won’t be able to see out the entirety of the contract. There are times where the landlord may be willing to draft up a shorter AST for the amount of time you plan to stay in the property.

Understanding tenancy lengths

Before signing any rental agreement with the landlord or managing agent, ensure that you’re fully aware of all the terms, including the length of the contract. Try and insert a break clause too, as this will protect you against circumstances that arise where you may need to leave the property early. If you take the right precaution, you can then focus on living in your new home and enjoying the experience. 

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