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How to end a tenancy agreement early

5 August 2015 Jamie Gough Read time: 2 min
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Ending a tenancy with a landlord can be more complicated then just giving notice depending on the contract you've signed.

If you’re renting a property under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement and you need to move out before your contract comes to an end, this means you want to end your tenancy whilst it's still in the fixed term period. In this instance, serving notice isn't enough and the landlord can insist that you keep paying your full rent for the entire length of the tenancy.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply hand in your notice and leave the property. Because you signed a contract agreeing to pay for the full term, refusing to do so would mean a breach of contract. Your landlord or agent could insist you keep paying the full amount of the rent, even if you’ve vacated the property. 

Check if your agreement has a break clause in it first. Do not leave the property without discussing your situation with the landlord or agent first as you can still be liable for the rent.

Break clauses

If your tenancy agreement contains a break clause, then you are allowed to end your tenancy agreement early. Without this, it can be difficult to end the agreement.

A break clause is a condition or date whereby you can end your tenancy early. The conditions of this should be clearly explained in your contract and should detail how much notice you need to give, and any other procedures that you need to follow when using this clause to end your fixed term tenancy early.


If you don’t have a break clause in your tenancy agreement that would allow you to leave the property early, the best thing to do would be to try and negotiate with the landlord or agent. The landlord or agent are under no obligation to negotiate but occasionally compromises can be made.

You could offer to find a new tenant for the property which would save the owner and agent hassle and money. Also as a fee will most likely be taken from a new tenant, landlords or agents view this favourably if they don’t have to go through the process of advertising for a new tenant.

In every case, you need to get the permission of both parties (the landlord and yourself) to end a fixed term tenancy early. If something is agreed, get this in writing and signed by your agent or landlord.

Joint tenancy

If you have a joint tenancy, ask your housemates if they know anyone who wants to move in. You’ll still need permission from the agent or landlord but it could be easier if you’re all helping to look for a replacement.

Periodic tenancies

If you’re still living in a property even though the fixed term has come to an end (the dates you signed the original contract) then you automatically become a periodic tenant under a periodic assured shorthold tenancy that runs month to month, or week to week. If you wish to leave the property then you can give two months or four weeks notice.

Looking for a new property

If you need to look for a new property before ending your contract, so just make sure you either have a new home lined up or you can crash with some friends whilst you look for one.


Feature image credit: Hernán Piñera

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