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Can you get out of a tenancy agreement early?

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Whether you are a landlord or tenant, there are various circumstances where you may wish to end a tenancy agreement early. It might be that as a landlord you want to sell the property or as a tenant that you need to move for work or personal reasons.

Understanding your rights and obligations around ending a tenancy can help you to achieve your goals while avoiding any potential legal issues.

When you can end a tenancy agreement early as a landlord

If your tenant has an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), you will usually have the right to take back possession of your property without needing to give a reason, as long as:

  • Where you have a written tenancy the initial term of the tenancy has ended (this will typically be 6 or 12 months)
  • If your tenancy is not in writing, the date you require the property back must be at least 6 months after the tenancy began
  • You provide at least 2 months’ notice which expires no earlier than the end of the initial term of the tenancy
  • The tenancy is periodic (e.g. a one-month rolling contract) or fixed-term and the date you need the property back is after the end of the fixed term (which cannot be less than 6 months from the start of the tenancy)
  • Any deposit the tenant has paid has been placed in a recognised deposit protection scheme

If the tenancy started after 30 September 2015, additional restrictions apply:

  • You must not have been served with a notice by the council following a complaint by the tenant about living conditions in the property
  • You must have provided a copy of the government’s 'How to Rent' leaflet
  • You must have provided an energy performance certificate
  • You must have provided a gas safety certificate

When you can end a tenancy agreement early as a tenant

As a tenant, you will be responsibly for paying your rent for the entire length of your fixed-term tenancy. You tenancy agreement will normally state how much notice you need to give in order to terminate your tenancy. If this is not specified you will need to give a minimum of 1 month’s notice which expires no earlier than the end of the initial tenancy.

If your initial fixed term is up and you have not yet signed a new fixed-term tenancy agreement, you can end your tenancy by giving the amount of notice specified in your tenancy agreement. However, if you sign a new fixed-term agreement, you will again be liable for the full rent for that term.

There are two exceptions that can allow you to end your tenancy early:

  1. If the tenancy agreement contains a ‘break clause’ specifying that you can end the tenancy early and under what circumstances you are entitled to do so.
  2. Your landlord agrees to end the tenancy early (it is advisable to get such an agreement in writing).

If you leave a rental property before the end of your tenancy without the landlord’s agreement you will still be liable for the rent. The landlord may be able to deduct money from your tenancy deposit or apply for a court order to recover unpaid rent.

Need help ending a tenancy agreement early?

Bird & Co Solicitors is a long-established law firm offering commercial property services to landlords across England and Wales from our 3 offices in the East Midlands.

We can help with all aspects of being a landlord and buy-to-let property, including buying and selling property, creating tenancy agreements and dealing with landlord-tenant disputes quickly and cost-effectively.

To find out more about our commercial property services, call us today on 01476 591711 or use our contact page to find details of your nearest office.