What to do if you want to end your tenancy early

What to do if you want to end your tenancy early

author: Emily Bancroft

By Emily Bancroft


Moving out of your rented property doesn’t have to be as bitter as a bad break-up – if you follow the rules of your tenancy you should be able to leave with both parties satisfied.

You might want to end your tenancy early if you’re relocating for a job or if you end a relationship, for example. But you might not be able to do this, depending on your tenancy contract.

Tenancy agreements

If you’re still in your original fixed term tenancy, you may not be able to leave your current property without paying the rent for the full term. In case you’re not sure, your tenancy is fixed term if you’re still in the original six or 12 month-period that you agreed to rent the property for. After this term ends, you’ll usually be put on to a rolling monthly or weekly tenancy. You may have been sent a letter about this when your original fixed term tenancy was up, or you might be able to find details of it in your contract.

For those still in the fixed term period of the tenancy, look in your tenancy agreement to see if there is a ‘break clause’ which will let you leave the property early. This could require you to serve a certain amount of notice, and also follow any special procedures.

Even if there isn’t a break clause in your tenancy agreement, it might be worth getting in touch with your landlord to let them know that you want to move out and to see if they’ll be able to negotiate this with you. They don’t have to do this, but they may be more likely to help you out if you get in touch with them as soon as you know you’re looking to leave so they can find a new tenant.

However, if your landlord won’t let you end the tenancy early, you shouldn’t just move out anyway. This is known as abandonment and you could still be liable to pay rent up until the end of your fixed term tenancy.

If you’re on a rolling contract, you should be able to end your tenancy after a notice period – usually four weeks if you’re on a weekly tenancy or a calendar month if you’re on a monthly one. You may have to end your tenancy on the first or last day or a tenancy period, usually on the day or the day before your rent is due. Contact your landlord if you’re unsure about this, or there may be details in your tenancy agreement.

When you decide you want to end your tenancy, you’ll need to send your landlord a letter with your name and address, detailing the date you plan to move out. It’s advisable to send this by recorded delivery, so you can be sure your landlord receives it.

Problems with your landlord

You may encounter problems if your landlord refuses to return your deposit when you leave the property. If you paid the deposit after 6th April 2007, your money should have been paid into a deposit protection scheme within 30 days, so you should be able to claim it back through an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). If your deposit was paid before the 6th April 2007 or your landlord refuses to use ADR, you may have to go to the small claims court to get your money back.

If you think unfair deductions have been made from your deposit, you can also dispute this. Your landlord is allowed to withhold money to cover the costs of any damage, cleaning, or unpaid rent, but they can’t make deductions for general wear and tear. It may cover in your tenancy agreement what your landlord is allowed to make deductions for, but you can appeal if you think they’re taking money unreasonably.

Should your landlord decide to increase your rent, this could be another reason why you may decide you want to leave. Your landlord won’t usually be allowed to increase your rent while you’re still in the fixed term period, unless there is a clause in your tenancy agreement allowing them to do this. If you think the increase in rent is unfair, you may be able to dispute it. However, keep in mind that you don’t have much legal status, so your landlord could just choose to end your tenancy if you’re at the end of the fixed term.

It could be worth looking into whether the rent is competitive for your area. This way, you’ll be able to see if what your landlord is charging is fair – or if you want to find another property at the end of the fixed term.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Emily Bancroft

By Emily Bancroft

What to do if you want to end your tenancy early What to do if you want to end your tenancy early