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Tenancy Contract Problems: What to Do If You Want to Leave Your Home Early

If you have committed to a tenancy contract, you are obligated by law to abide by it. However, certain circumstances may force you to end the agreement earlier than scheduled. Can this be done? Will your actions result in legal consequences? 

Before anything else, it’s crucial to understand what kind of tenancy agreement you signed or are about to sign with your landlord.

Types of tenancy

There are four types of tenancy agreements:  

A licence to occupy is for room rentals inside the landlord’s home. Your rented accommodation is not separate from your landlord’s property.

Regulated tenancy allows tenants to enjoy more protection compared to an ASTA or assured shorthold tenancy agreement. If your agreement started before January 15th 1989, you have a regulated tenancy.

Assured tenancy covers agreements that were entered between January 15th 1989 and February 27th 1997. It offers more tenant protection than a licence to occupy and ASTA.

ASTA or assured shorthold tenancy agreement is the most common and preferred. If you have an ASTA tenancy, you live in a home that is separate from your landlord’s; your landlord does not live anywhere within the property.

Additionally, the rented home serves as your main accommodation and the tenancy must have been entered into after January 15th 1989. If the tenancy commenced before January 15th 1989 and you’re paying less than £250 per year or over £100,000 annually, if your landlord is a housing association or local authority, and if the property is for business purposes or a holiday rental, it does not fall under the ASTA category.

There are two types of ASTA agreements: a fixed term tenancy is one where your contract ends on a specific date, while a periodic tenancy rolls over on a weekly or monthly basis.  

Steps to take if you want to  leave your rented home early

The first thing you should do is to seek legal advice regarding your tenancy agreement. Aside from information like rent and deposit amount, repairs you are responsible for, and schedule of rental payments, your contract should also include: 

  • The start and end date of tenancy
  • Is there a break clause? 
  • When should you inform your landlord that you are ending your tenancy early?

Your course of action depends on the type of tenancy that you have: a fixed term or periodic agreement.

Step 1: a break clause.

If your fixed term tenancy agreement has a break clause, you can end your tenancy early. Typically, only long tenancies come with a break clause, but you may negotiate for one with your landlord.

Tenancy agreements specify when a break clause can be applied, i.e. six months after the start of the tenancy, provided that you notify your landlord at least a month before. Some landlords include break clause conditions. 

If the agreement does not have a break clause, you can’t end your tenancy early. Some landlords may let you leave early but with the condition that you find a replacement tenant before leaving.

If you have a periodic tenancy, you can end it early if you need to; just inform your landlord. However, you will be required to keep paying the rent until the notice period ends. 

Step 2: Ending your tenancy if you haven’t moved in yet.

If you haven’t moved in yet but need to end the tenancy, you’ll have to negotiate with your landlord. Even if you haven’t formally started using the property, the contract you signed is still legal. You have to abide by it.

Releasing you from the agreement will be easier, though, because your tenancy has not yet started.

Step 3: Talk to your joint tenants.

If your agreement included other tenants, you have to inform them of your plans. You have to decide what to do together even if you are the only one leaving. 

If they decide to stay, you need to come up with a compromise agreement along with the landlord. These tenants won’t allow you to use the break clause because this would leave them without a home to live in. 

Part of the negotiations should be a new tenancy agreement for any tenant who wants to stay and continue renting the property. 

However, if you and your joint tenants agree to leave together, the process will be easier. You still have to abide by the break clause and negotiate with your landlord, though.

Step 4: What to do if you cannot leave early

You have three options if your landlord does not grant your request of ending the tenancy early: finish your tenancy until the end of the fixed term, continue living in the property but negotiate for lesser rent, or leave. 

If you leave, your tenancy will automatically end, but you’ll still have to pay the rent until the landlord finds a new renter. Be sure to surrender the keys, ensure the home is in good condition, and inform your landlord that you’re leaving.

When not to end your tenancy early

If you’re thinking of ending the tenancy early because of disrepair in your home, do not push through with your plans. Major disrepair issues are your landlord’s responsibilities, so you should inform them and request for repairs. If they ignore your request, you can file a housing disrepair claim. Get in touch with the experts at DisrepairClaim.co.uk if you want to get the compensation you deserve.

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