Guide To Early Termination Of A Tenancy Agreement

Find help and information on what to do if you need to end your private rental tenancy early for any reason.
By Ben Yarrow
30 May 2023

ending a tenancy early - how to do it


Hello, renters! We've all been there - a job offer in a new city, an unexpected life change, or maybe you just don't feel at home in your rented property. Whatever the reason, sometimes you find yourself needing to end a tenancy agreement early. This can be a tricky process, but don't worry - we're here to help you understand your options.

Step 1: Understand Your Tenancy Agreement

Your tenancy agreement is your primary source of information about ending your lease. Take the time to review your contract carefully - it may include a "break clause"  which allows you to end the agreement early, usually after a specified minimum term.

Step 2: Communicate with Your Landlord

Open, honest communication is key. If your contract doesn't have a break clause, or you haven't reached the specified term, your next step should be to talk to your landlord. Explain your circumstances and see if they would be willing to negotiate an early termination. You may be surprised - landlords are people too and they might be understanding of your situation.

Step 3: Consider a Mutual Agreement

Even without a break clause, you and your landlord can agree to terminate the contract early. This is known as "surrendering your tenancy". Both parties must agree, and it's best to get this in writing. A 'Deed of Surrender'  can be drawn up by a solicitor to ensure this is done correctly.

Step 4: Propose a Replacement Tenant

Offering to find a new tenant to take over your lease can sometimes convince a reluctant landlord to let you end your tenancy early. Make sure you offer to cover any costs associated with finding a new tenant, like agency fees or advertising costs.

Step 5: Understand Your Legal Rights

While the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 primarily applies to commercial properties, it does establish some principles that are broadly applied in landlord-tenant law. For example, it outlines the concept of "quiet enjoyment," which is the tenant's right to occupy the premises in peace without disturbance from the landlord. This principle has been expanded in later legislation and case law to apply to residential tenancies as well.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, on the other hand, has a lot more direct relevance for residential tenants. Here are a few key provisions:


  • Section 11: This section outlines the landlord's obligation to repair the structure and exterior of the property, along with installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating, and heating water. If your landlord isn't meeting these obligations, it could provide grounds for you to end your tenancy agreement early.
  • Section 10: This section defines a dwelling as unfit for human habitation if it's so far defective in one or more of those matters (like damp, natural light, ventilation, water supply) that it's not reasonably suitable for occupation. If a court finds that your property is unfit for habitation, you might have grounds to leave before the end of your tenancy.
  • Section 20: If your landlord wants to pass on costs of works or services via your service charge, they must consult with you first if the works will cost you more than £250, or the services long-term agreement will cost you more than £100 per year.

Always remember, if you believe that your landlord is violating these or any other laws, it's a good idea to seek advice from a legal professional or a tenants' rights organization. Organisations like  Shelter or Citizens Advice  to understand your rights.

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