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When and If the Tenant Can Leave During the Tenancy

4.6 When and If the Tenant Can Leave During the Tenancy

A tenant in a fixed term tenancy can only end the tenancy before the end
of the term with the landlord’s agreement (accepting the tenant’s offer to
‘surrender’ the tenancy), or if this is allowed for by a ‘break clause’ in the
tenancy agreement.

Where a ‘break clause’ exists the tenant must follow any requirements
for giving notice specified in the tenancy agreement. Break clauses are
comparatively rare.

If the agreement does not allow the tenant to end the tenancy early and
the landlord does not agree that the tenant can surrender the agreement,
the tenant will be contractually obliged to pay the landlord the rent for the
entire length of the fixed term.

If the tenant wishes to surrender the property (end the letting before
the end of the agreement), the landlord should try to mitigate their loss
(future rent) by re-letting the property. Quite often a landlord will reach an
agreement with the tenant to accept their surrender if they find a suitable
replacement tenant which will ensure that the landlord suffers no loss of
income.

Reasonable re-letting costs can be charged, but these and any other
conditions attached to the landlord’s agreement to accept the surrender
should be recorded in writing before the surrender takes place.

Once a new tenant is found, the landlord cannot re-let without first
accepting the surrender of the first tenancy and so there must be no
‘double charging’ of rent for the same period.

If the tenancy has no fixed term, the tenant must give the landlord notice in
writing of their intention to leave. The tenant must give at least four weeks’
notice where rent is paid on a weekly basis and at least a month’s notice
where rent is paid on a monthly basis. Periodic notices should end at the
end of a rent period for both landlords and tenants.