Can you get out of a tenancy agreement?

How to get out of a tenancy agreement?

Sometimes rented properties lose a bit of their sparkle after you move in. Maybe it’s not quite what you’d hoped for and you’re worried you’ve made a mistake. Or maybe your family has grown unexpectedly and the home you originally chose just won’t work for this next step. Whatever it might be, it’s natural to wonder where the escape hatch is — or if there even is one!

In this article, we’ll talk you through how to get out of a tenancy agreement in the UK, how to end a fixed-term tenancy agreement early, and how to end your responsibility for rent. If you’re worried about any of the above, stick around!

How to get out of a tenancy agreement early in the UK

The kind of tenancy agreement you have will affect how easy it’ll be to leave, so we’ll run through those quickly first. Tenancy agreements in the UK are usually either…

  • Periodic or rolling — with no fixed end date.
  • Fixed-term — typically lasting 6-12 months and with a specified end date in the contract.

If you’re unsure which kind of tenancy agreement you have, just check your contract for an end date — if it’s got one, it’s likely a fixed-term agreement. It’s also useful to note that if a tenant continues to live at a property after a fixed-term end date has passed, the tenancy will usually become periodic. If that’s you or your agreement has always been periodic? Keep reading. But if you’ve got a fixed-term agreement, skip over the next bit for all the juicy details relevant to you.

How to end a periodic tenancy

So you’ve got a periodic tenancy. Well, the good news is that this kind of tenancy can be ended in two ways:

  • By giving legal notice of your intention to leave.
  • By agreeing on an end date with your landlord.

The notice period for a periodic tenancy can be anything from one month to a couple of months. It generally depends on how often you pay rent, ie. the more often you pay rent, the shorter your notice period is likely to be. So if you pay each month, you’ll usually need to give at least a month’s notice. But if you pay every 3 months, you might need to stick it out for 3 months after giving notice.

Quick note: To find out how much notice you’ll need to give, always check your tenancy agreement first. It might be different from what’s written here, and if so, that’s the advice you should follow. If there’s no notice period specified, check out our article on: ‘How much notice to give landlord’. Or check out our tips on: ‘How to give notice to landlord’.

But if you’re wondering how to get out of a tenancy agreement early, ie. before your notice period is up — that might require a chat with your landlord over a cup of tea and a biscuit. Hopefully, they’re an easy-going, friendly sort who’ll agree to let you check out early. But if they’re not keen? You can crack on and move out anyway, but you’ll still be responsible for paying the rent until your notice period is up.

Can you end a fixed-term tenancy agreement early?

Fixed-term tenancy agreements can be hard to wriggle out of because you’ve committed to a set amount of time — usually 6-12 months. But there are still a couple of ways to get loose, such as:

  • By using a break clause in your contract — this is usually a “way out” written into the tenancy agreement.
  • By negotiating to leave early with your landlord.

If you’ve got a break clause in your contract, you’re golden. It might have certain conditions attached to it, so be sure to check those out first. There’s usually a notice period, but it’ll be a quicker way of moving on than waiting out your fixed term.

Otherwise, it might be time to switch on the charm and strike up a negotiation with your landlord. Hopefully, they see things from your point of view, but if they don’t have the reaction you were hoping for in the moment — give them some time to go away and digest. You never know, they might change their mind once they’ve had a chance to think it through.

How to end your responsibility for rent

So now we’ve discussed how to end your tenancy agreement early, it’s important to stress that until your landlord releases you from the agreement, you’ll still be responsible for paying rent. It doesn’t matter if you’ve moved out, left town, and there’s nothing but tumbleweeds left at the property — missed rent payments will become rent arrears and a court can force you to pay them. You could even end up paying more than rent in court costs if your landlord chooses to evict you.

To get the inside track on evictions, check out: ‘Landlord eviction notice: a guide’.

But if you have managed to wrangle an early release from your tenancy agreement, it’s always a good idea to ask your landlord to put it in writing in case you need it later on. That way you’re free to start out somewhere new and you can prove from which date you were no longer a tenant at their property.

A few final tips…

On a final note, if you’re looking to get out fast because your landlord is difficult to work with, the building is in a state of disrepair, or there are pests at the property — you might not have to cut and run. Renters have rights and it might be that you need a little bit of help (not an emergency exit) to improve your living situation.

To make a formal complaint, visit: Citizens Advice.

For advice on handling unruly landlords, check out: ‘How to deal with a landlord who is unreasonable’.

If you’re dead set on moving on, why not read: ‘Best websites to find a rental property’.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.