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
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.
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:
deposit was not protected correctly
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