NOTE The information in this article is designed to be general guidance based on the most recent version of OpenRent's contract. The information provided should not be considered a replacement for legal advice and you should refer to the wording in your own contract where necessary.
When a tenant signs a new tenancy agreement they are committing to rent your property for a fixed period of time, normally at least six months. However, sometimes a tenant will decide they want to leave the tenancy early. When this happens it is normally in everyone's interest to reach an amicable agreement as soon as possible.
There are two main ways in which a tenant can look to end their contract:
1. Using their break clause
Using a break clause is a unilateral way of ending a tenancy - this means that the tenant has the right to end the tenancy without the agreement of the landlord (providing they serve the correct notice).
We have a guide on how break clauses work with our own contract here.
If you signed a contract outside of our Rent Now service then you should check your own contract for details of a break clause. If you are unsure about the break clause in a contract we recommend that you get legal advice.
2. Negotiating a surrender of the tenancy with their landlord
If a tenant is unable to use their break clause for any reason then they can ask to negotiate a surrender of the tenancy. Negotiating a surrender requires the tenant to work with their landlord to reach an agreement for everyone. Once an agreement has been reached the terms are normally outlined in a deed of surrender which should be signed by everyone.
What to do if Your Tenant Asks to Negotiate a Surrender
While we completely understand that it may be disappointing and frustrating to have a tenant to ask to end a tenancy early, it is normally in everyone's interest to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. Not reaching an agreement risks a deteriorating relationship with the tenant and can result in them refusing to pay rent or even damaging the property.
There are two main ways in which most landlords agree to a tenancy ending early:
1. The tenant agrees to continue pay certain costs until a new tenancy is set up.
These costs normally include things like rent and utility bills. Some tenants may also offer to forfeit their security deposit. it's important to ensure that any charges are not in breach of the Tenant Fees Act 2019. If you are in any doubt over whether a charge is permissible we recommend that you get legal advice.
2. The tenant finds a new tenant to replace them and then pays a fixed cost to cover the new tenancy agreement.
The Tenant Fees Act caps the standard cost of contract changes at £50.00. However, landlords can increase this charge where they have proof that their costs are more.