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How to end a fixed term tenancy early

Negotiate with your landlord

You need to negotiate if you cannot use a break clause. 

You do not have an automatic right to end the tenancy early even if:

  • your situation has changed

  • there are problems with the property or landlord

But you could use these things to persuade your landlord to let you leave early.

If you reach an agreement to end your tenancy and move out, it's called a surrender.

How to communicate with your landlord

Be polite and friendly.

Put things in writing. Email can be a good way to keep track of things.

Your first email or message should set out:

  • why you want to leave

  • any suggestions for a replacement tenant

Contact the letting agent first if you usually deal with them. They act for your landlord and can put proposals to them. If the agent is unhelpful you can contact your landlord directly.

Video: What to say to your landlord

Video transcript

You can try negotiating with your landlord if you want to leave a fixed term tenancy early.

Be aware that your landlord does not have to release you from the contract, even if you have a good reason for leaving or they've done something wrong.

If you can agree an early end to the tenancy, it's called a surrender.

Tips on negotiation

Be honest if you cannot afford the rent. The landlord may let you leave early before you fall into arrears.

If your landlord doesn't want the hassle of finding a replacement tenant, you could offer to look for someone.

If your deposit is unprotected, this could be a bargaining tool. You could offer to overlook the landlord's error if they agree to release you from the tenancy and return your deposit in full.

Some landlords will attach conditions to a surrender

They might want to keep your deposit or charge a fee for the costs of reletting the property.

If you reach an agreement, make sure you get it in writing.

Advice tips on what you could say if you want to end your tenancy early.

Relationship breakdown or domestic abuse

Your landlord could consider a surrender for other reasons. For example, if you:

  • split up with your partner

  • are at risk of violence or abuse in your home

Find out your options if you have a relationship breakdown in a joint tenancy.

If you're at risk of domestic abuse or violence, you may be able to get safe housing and support through a refuge or the council without ending your tenancy immediately.

Problems with the property or your landlord

Some landlords do not do what they have to do by law.

This could mean you can ask a court for compensation or apply for a rent repayment order.

For example, if your:

You could offer to overlook these problems if your landlord allows an early release from your tenancy agreement.

You're liable for rent even if your landlord breaches their legal obligations. You still need to reach an agreement to surrender the tenancy.

Reaching an agreement with your landlord

Your landlord might ask you to meet some conditions before they agree to end your tenancy. For example, they might ask you to:

  • find a replacement tenant

  • give up your deposit or pay a fee

  • pay the rent until new tenants move in

If the offer allows you to leave and stop having to pay rent, this may be your best option.

Finding a replacement tenant 

You could help find a new tenant. For example, you could:

  • put photos, videos or adverts online

  • ask friends or family members who might be interested

Make sure new tenants sign a new agreement with the landlord and pay any deposit directly to them, not to you.

Fees and deposits

Your landlord or agent can charge a fee if they agree to let you end your tenancy early or leave without notice.

Any fees can only cover reasonable costs. If a charge seems high, ask for a breakdown of what it covers.

Get a clear agreement on what happens to the deposit and if you will get it back.

Get any agreement in writing

You can agree to end the tenancy early without a formal 'deed of surrender' although some landlords might want you to sign this legal document. 

The agreement should state the date your tenancy and responsibility for rent ends.

Last updated: 7 December 2023

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