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:
find out if your contract has one
check when you can use it
give notice if you decide to use it
Not every tenancy has a break clause
A break clause lets you give notice to end your fixed term tenancy agreement early.
All tenancy agreements are different and not every contract has a break clause. Look for anything in your agreement about ending a tenancy. It might be called a break clause or something different.
Here's an example:
'This agreement may be ended by landlord or tenant giving at least 2 months' notice in writing to the other party, to expire at any time after 6 months from the start of this agreement.'
A break clause should clearly state:
when a notice can be served
how much notice you need to give
If it isn't clear, ask your landlord or agent to explain it in writing.
It is really important that you follow what the break clause says. If you move out without ending your tenancy properly, your landlord could take you to court to claim back any unpaid rent and you could lose your deposit.
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. Check your contract.
It might not be labelled as a 'break clause'. Look for anything about giving notice or terminating the tenancy early.
You can ask for a break clause to be included before you sign the contract.
Check when you can use the break clause
A break clause 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.
If you want to use a break clause to end a joint tenancy early, all joint tenants must be in agreement, unless your contract says otherwise.
Give notice using 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 is not clear, ask your landlord or agent to explain it in writing.
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.
Your notice ends your tenancy
You will no longer have the right to live in the property after your notice ends. You will not be responsible for ongoing rent.
You cannot 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 cannot use a break clause
You could still negotiate an early end to the tenancy with your landlord.
Last updated: 26 September 2022