How To Get Out Of A Tenancy Agreement

Picture of Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

How To Get Out Of A Tenancy Agreement – If you are considering getting into any kind of tenancy agreement, it is essential to read the terms carefully and make sure that the agreement meets your needs before signing it.

Check What Type Of Tenancy You Have

When contemplating how to get out of a tenancy agreement, it is essential to first understand that tenancies come in two different types, a fixed term tenancy and a periodic tenancy.

What is a Fixed Term Tenancy And A Periodic Tenancy?

A fixed term tenancy is an agreement that will end on a pre-determined date, while a periodic tenancy is ongoing and continues on either a weekly or monthly basis without having an officially specified end date.

How To Get Out Of A Tenancy Agreement - terminate a tenancy agreement - break a tenancy contract
How To Get Out Of A Tenancy Agreement

It is also important to be aware that with a periodic tenancy, since there is no predetermined ending date, either party can get out of the tenancy agreement by giving appropriate notice – something which does not apply in the case of fixed term tenancies.

Periodic tenancy is also referred to as ‘rolling’ tenancy. Before entering into any type of agreement, it is important to understand your rights and obligations as this can vary depending on what type of tenancy you have.

Fixed Term Tenancy

Under a fixed term tenancy, you are obligated to pay rent until the term ends. If you remain in the property or fail to give notice properly, rent payment may extend beyond the term.

You can get out of the tenancy agreement only if allowed by your agreement or agreed upon by your landlord.

A ‘break clause’ in your agreement may permit early termination under specific conditions, like giving notice after a certain period, typically with stipulations such as no rent arrears.

Read article: An Essential Guide to Selling a House With Tenants

How To End A Fixed Term Tenancy Early

If you are no longer able to meet the conditions of your fixed term tenancy agreement, your options may include trying to negotiate an exit strategy with your landlord or negotiating a mutual agreement termination.

You can also apply to the tribunal for a court order forcing an early termination of the tenancy if necessary.

Before considering leaving a fixed term tenancy early, it is essential that tenants understand their obligations under the tenancy agreement and legal rights.

Breaking your lease is not without risk and could result in financial penalties or eviction action against you.

Read article: Sale of Goods Act 1979: Scope, Application and Analysis

Periodic Tenancy

In a periodic tenancy, tenants can get out of the tenancy agreement at any time by notifying their landlord.

This type of tenancy is either established from the beginning as a month-to-month or week-to-week arrangement or occurs when a fixed term tenancy naturally progresses without renewal.

Tenants are responsible for rent payments until their notice period concludes. This flexibility is a key characteristic of periodic tenancies, distinguishing them from fixed-term agreements.

How To End a Periodic Tenancy

To end a periodic tenancy, usually one month’s notice must be given in writing to the landlord. If either party fails to provide proper notice when trying to terminate the tenancy, then it will automatically renew each period according to terms outlined in the agreement.

When ending a periodic tenancy, it is important for both parties involved that all steps are followed and communication is clear.

The tenant should return all keys to their landlord as notification that they’re leaving and request a refund of any security deposit money due back.

Additionally, if there are any unpaid rent or damages owed on either side of the agreement, these amounts must be settled before terminating a periodic tenancy or else the tenant may forfeit their deposit or even face legal action.

Does My Tenancy Agreement Have a “Break Clause”?

A break clause, also known as an early termination clause, is a provision of a tenancy agreement that enables either the tenant or landlord to get out of a tenancy agreement before its official end date.

The provision usually allows the tenant or landlord to give notice of their intention to get out of the tenancy agreement after a specific period of time has passed.

Many landlords choose to have a break clause included in their tenancy agreements as it gives them the ability to terminate the contract on short notice and regain possession of their property if necessary.

In England and Wales, during the first six months of any assured shorthold tenancy (AST), landlords do not have an automatic right to repossess their property even with a break clause in place.

However, once this initial period expires they can exercise their rights under the break clause enabling them to take back possession unless countermeasures are taken by either party.

Using Break Clauses in England and Wales

Break clauses are a common feature of assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreements in England and Wales. There is no limit on the amount of notice that a landlord or tenant must give to end an AST through a break clause, however it must be seen to be fair.

This means that if a landlord can end the tenancy by giving just one month’s notice, while the tenant does not have any similar right, then the clause may be considered unfair and unenforceable.

It is important to understand that using a break clause does not automatically enable the landlord to regain possession of their property.

The clause only serves to end the contract between the two parties; however, it does not end the tenant’s right to occupy the property, which continues under a statutory periodic AST (ie: month-to-month recurring tenancy).

To repossess their property, landlords must instead use regular repossession methods such as issuing a Section 21 notice (Section 21 of UK Housing Act 1988).

How To Get Out Of A Tenancy Agreement When There Is No Break Clause

When it comes to terminating a lease without a break clause, it is important to understand the implications of such an action.

Without a break clause, you may be liable for any ongoing liabilities specified in the lease and must negotiate with your landlord to reach an amicable agreement.

Potential liabilities could include a fee for terminating the lease and professional fees incurred. Additionally, you may incur costs associated with repairs and redecoration of the premises.

In circumstances where there is no break clause present in your lease, it can be beneficial to talk through all potential implications with your landlord before making any decisions about termination of the contract.

You should explain that you want to give sufficient notice so as to minimise additional fees or disruption caused by early termination of the lease.

Furthermore, it is important that you repeatedly request written confirmation reflecting any agreed-upon terms between both parties throughout negotiation for further clarity and assurance when getting out of a tenancy agreement.

Read article: How to Find Out Who Owns a Property in the UK

How To Get Out Of A Tenancy Agreement Without Giving Notice

Trying to get out of a tenancy agreement and leaving the premises without giving notice to the landlord is considered abandonment and it does not end the contract.

The tenant must still pay rent for the remainder of the agreed term or make other arrangements, even if they plan to get out of the tenancy agreement and abandon the premises.

Anything that implies an intent to vacate the property without authorisation from the landlord can be seen as abandonment – posting keys through a letterbox, leaving and not going back, or even just telling them you are leaving.

The risk of abandonment is that if rent-owed is unpaid or the required notice to terminate isn’t observed, your tenant rights become void.

It is necessary to inform your landlord in writing that you plan to get out of the tenancy agreement. The reason for this stems from Section 21 of UK Housing Act 1988, which states a valid “Notice Seeking Possession” cannot be served within 6 months of tenants moving in unless adequate notice has been provided prior.

Written communication should also contain any other necessary details clearly presented upfront such as terms on how to return keys and other possessions after leaving.

This will protect both parties involved in case there are unanswered questions arising after lease has been vacated prematurely by you, but still generating rental arrears liability obligations due from your side until proper termination takes place or agreement reached with the landlord.

Picture of Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

Leticia has a first class LLB Degree from University of London, an LLM Degree and a Doctorate in International Commercial Law from Glasgow and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Leticia teaches Finance Law, Insurance, Land Law, Insolvency Law and Entrepreneurship Law.

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