Please note that OpenRent is not legally trained so can't offer personalised legal advice. The information in this article is designed to give an overview of different options available to tenants who want to end a tenancy early. However, where necessary, all parties should seek independent legal advice about how to proceed.
Most tenancies in England and Wales are Assured Shorthold Tenancies. This means that the tenancy will have an initial fixed term. The fixed term is the minimum period that the tenancy is expected to last for. Ending a tenancy before the fixed term has ended can be difficult. However, it can sometimes be necessary for a tenant to end their tenancy before the end of the fixed term.
Below we will outline three main options for tenants who want to end their tenancy before the end of their fixed term
1. Use their break clause
2. Find a replacement tenant
3. Surrender their tenancy
Using a Break Clause
Using a break clause is normally the simplest, quickest and cheapest way for a tenant to end a tenancy early. You should check your contract to see if your contract contains a break clause and at what point it becomes available.
A break clause means that either side (tenant or landlord) can give two months' notice to end the tenancy unilaterally (i.e. they don't need the other side to agree). In most contracts a break clause becomes available at about month four, so that the tenancy can end after 6 months. If you signed a contract through our Rent Now service you can check the details of your break clause in your OpenRent Account.
We have a full guide to how to end a tenancy using a break clause here.
Surrendering the Tenancy
The simplest way to end a tenancy, without a break clause, is by all parties signing a deed of surrender. We have a guide on deed of surrenders here.
If everyone agrees to sign a deed of surrender then the tenant may be asked to cover certain costs that the landlord has incurred by ending the tenancy early. The costs that a tenant can be required to cover are limited under the Tenant Fees Act 2019. So, we recommend that you check the official government guidance on what is and is not covered and seek independent legal advice if you are at all unsure of whether a cost is likely to be permitted. Any costs to be covered by the tenant(s) should be clearly set out in the deed of surrender.
The tenancy will end on the agreed date, once everyone has signed the surrender.
Finding a Replacement
The last option is for the tenant to find a replacement tenant for the remaining tenancy.
In this scenario landlords normally ask the tenant to cover the costs of changing the contract. The Tenant Fees Act caps the cost of most changes to contracts at £50.00 (and setting up a new contract on OpenRent costs £49.00).
Again, once the new tenant has been found everyone on the existing tenancy should sign a deed of surrender to confirm that the original tenancy has ended.
Regardless of how you agree to end the tenancy with the tenant it's important to ensure that you follow the normal end-of-tenancy process:
- Conduct an end-of-tenancy check on the property condition.
- Contact the deposit scheme to ensure the deposit is treated correctly in accordance with whatever is agreed between you and the tenant as part of the surrender.
- Mark the tenancy as completed on OpenRent.