How to end a tenancy early - our advice

There could be any number of reasons why a tenant would wish to terminate their tenancy earlier than agreed. Maybe they don't get along with their flat-mates; maybe a new job opportunity has presented itself; or perhaps unforeseen circumstances have arisen that require them to leave. Either way, the situation creates challenges for both the tenant and landlord.

After all, the tenancy agreement exists to protect both parties. For the landlord, early termination of the agreement means that he or she will now have to find a new tenant to replace the income they expected to receive; while the tenant has the delicate task of having to negotiate their way out of a binding contract.

What the tenant should definitely not do

If you're a tenant who needs to vacate the property earlier than agreed, you should not do so without giving the landlord notice. Simply packing up your things and leaving will not end the tenancy agreement, and you will remain liable for any rent and costs you were supposed to pay for the rest of the term.

It will also make it more difficult for you to rent a property in future, as most landlords will require references from other landlords, including the one you just robbed of guaranteed income.

Furthermore, a tenant who wants to leave for reasons that have to do with the landlord shirking their responsibilities, such as failing to maintain a property, should consider the other options available to them before doing so. If you feel the landlord is violating your tenant’s rights, you should bring this to their attention, or report them to the Housing Rights Service. If you're still set on leaving, this will at least give you the higher ground in any negotiations with the landlord.

What the landlord should definitely not do

If you're a landlord whose tenant has declared an intention to leave earlier than agreed, you should not attempt to force them remain on the property. It's better to simply accept the situation, and try work towards a compromise. A tenant forced to remain against their will, will have no incentive to keep the property well maintained, and may look for creative ways to express their resentment. Furthermore, it's just bad business for a landlord to ruin their own reputation by creating animosity between themselves and the tenant.

You're probably wondering what the purpose of a contract is if the tenant can just up and leave whenever they want. Well, the contract still fulfills its intended role by giving landlords the higher ground in any negotiations with the tenant. So it's best to sympathise with the tenant, but at the same time use that position to your advantage. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise, and the only way forward is for both parties to find a compromise.

Agreeing to disagree

Here are some ways in which the tenant can seek to compensate the landlord for breaking the terms of the contract:

• Continuing to pay rent until the landlord finds a new tenant, and perhaps even assisting in the search by covering the costs of using online marketing agencies. • Recommending potential replacement tenants. • Continuing to keep the property well maintained. • Allowing the landlord to conduct viewings during the last few weeks’ of the tenant's stay.

Basically, the tenant needs to remember that they are the ones breaking the terms of the contract, whilst the landlord should remember that reaching a compromise will be a lot more beneficial to them in the long-run than having an unhappy tenant on the property.

Are you a landlord or a tenant facing just such a situation? The experts at Tepilo’s click and mortar agency can help you find a tenant ASAP.

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Get Started with Sarah Beeny's Tepilo now.