How to end a fixed term tenancy early


Use a break clause

Not every tenancy agreement has a break clause. 

To use a break clause you need to:

  1. Find out if your contract has one
  2. Check when you can use it
  3. Give notice if you decide to use it

Not every tenancy has a break clause

Adviser Alun explains how to check your contract for a break clause

Find out if your contract has a break clause

Some landlords include a break clause as standard in their agreements. Some tenants ask for a break clause to be included before they sign the contract.

Check your contract to see what was agreed.

It might not be labelled as a 'break clause'. Look for anything about giving notice or terminating the tenancy early.

Check when you can use the break clause

A break clause usually allows both you and the landlord to give notice to end the tenancy early.

There's no standard format for a break clause.

In most cases you can only use the break clause on or after a certain date.

Some contracts only allow you to use the break clause at an exact point in the tenancy, but not after that date has passed.

Example break clause:

This agreement may be ended by landlord or tenant giving at least 2 months' notice in writing, to expire at any time after 6 months from the start of this agreement. 

In this example, the tenant could give written notice at any time but the earliest the tenancy could end would be 6 months into the agreement.

If you want to use a break clause to end a joint fixed term tenancy early, all joint tenants must be in agreement, unless your contract says otherwise.

Give notice to use the break clause

Check the wording carefully and give notice in the way the break clause tells you to.

This is sometimes called exercising or activating the break clause.

A break clause should state clearly:

  • when you can give notice
  • how much notice you should give

If the clause isn't clear, ask your landlord or agent to explain it in writing.

Your tenancy and right to live there end when your notice ends. You won't be liable for ongoing rent.

You can't usually withdraw a break clause notice so make sure you have somewhere to go before giving notice.

Find out what else you should do when you leave your rented home.

If you can't use a break clause

You may still be able to negotiate an early end to the tenancy with your landlord.


Last updated 25 September 2020 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.