Date Published 11 April 2016
How tenants can end a fixed-term tenancy
You are not allowed to end a fixed-term tenancy early unless your landlord agrees or you have a break clause in place that allows you to end your agreement after a pre-agreed length of time.
If you're a private tenant your tenancy agreement or contract is usually for a fixed term of 6 or 12 months.
If your fixed term has ended and you haven't signed a new agreement you probably have a 'periodic' tenancy and can give two months notice to leave at any time.
Ending a tenancy before the fixed term ends
You cannot end a tenancy agreement before the fixed term ends unless either of the following applies:
• you have a break clause in your tenancy agreement that lets you give notice to end the agreement early
• your landlord agrees to you leaving the tenancy (known as 'surrendering')
If you surrender the tenancy, get your landlord's agreement in writing to avoid disputes later.
Giving notice if you have a break clause
If your tenancy agreement does have a break clause you can give notice to end the agreement before the fixed term end date.
Your tenancy agreement will tell you:
• when the break clause applies (this could be 6 months after the start of the tenancy)
• how much notice you have to give (usually 2 months prior to the date you wish to leave)
Leaving without giving notice
Leaving before the fixed term ends without giving notice and without the landlord agreeing is known as 'abandonment'. It doesn't end your agreement and you must still pay rent.
• leaving and not going back
• just telling the landlord that you're leaving
• posting the keys through the letterbox
Your landlord is still able to charge you rent for the property until your tenancy agreement ends. If you don't pay, your landlord can apply for a court order to:
• make you pay what you owe
• get the property back (take possession)
If you've abandoned a tenancy or have rent arrears it will be harder for you to find a new home.
Leaving early if you have a joint tenancy
You're a joint tenant if there's more than one name on the agreement.
If you want to leave you must all agree to end the tenancy and can end it if you do both of the following:
• agree with the landlord to surrender it
• give the required notice if there's a break clause
Leaving at the end of your fixed term
You can normally leave on the last day of your fixed-term agreement without giving your landlord notice.
Check to see if your tenancy agreement says you must give notice and how much you must give. You must give notice if it says something such as:
• you must tell your landlord if you plan to leave on the last day
• when the fixed term expires the tenancy will continue as a periodic tenancy
You should let your landlord know what you plan to do to avoid disputes.