What to check for in your tenancy agreement

Fixed terms and break clauses

Most tenancies start with a fixed term.

This means your agreement is for a set time. For example, 6 months or a year.

Your agreement could either:

  • give a clear start and end date

  • say something like your tenancy is 'for a fixed term of 12 months' from a start date

Check to make sure the tenancy term is what you and your landlord agreed.

Periodic tenancies

Some tenancies have no fixed term. They just keep going from month to month.

This is called a rolling or periodic tenancy.

You probably have a rolling tenancy if:

  • you stay on after your fixed term ends

  • your contract does not say anything about a fixed term

  • your contract says the tenancy will become a rolling tenancy when the fixed term ends

Break clauses

Some fixed term agreements have a break clause. This means you or your landlord can end the tenancy early without giving a reason.

If you have a break clause, it should say:

  • when it can be used

  • how much notice to give if you want to leave

Example: Break clause

"Either party may end this tenancy by service of at least two months' notice in writing, any notice to be served no less than six months after the start date of the tenancy."

In this example:

  • you cannot give notice to leave in the first 6 months

  • you need to give 2 months' notice or more

  • the earliest you could end the tenancy is 8 months after the start date

If your landlord uses the break clause but you do not leave, your tenancy goes on. Your landlord must take legal steps to evict you.

A break clause that only your landlord can use is an unfair term. Break clauses should give you the same or better rights than your landlord to end your tenancy.

Forfeiture clauses

Some contracts have a 'forfeiture clause'.

This means the landlord can end the tenancy if you break your agreement. An example is if you do not pay your rent.

Forfeiture clauses sometimes say the landlord has the right to 're-enter' or 'regain possession of the property'. This does not mean the landlord can physically come into your home. It means they could evict you as long as they take the right legal steps.

In your agreement, forfeiture clauses may talk about 'grounds' under 'section 8 of the Housing Act 1988'. Grounds are legal reasons the landlord could evict you.

Last updated: 18 September 2023

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