Breaking a tenancy agreement
I was recently asked by a tenant to help them with a sticky dilemma. He had signed a tenancy agreement for 12 months but midway through the lease decided to move out and head back to the US. When the tenant had signed the lease he had been assured that the agreement contained a break clause at 6 months. Unfortunately the tenant did not check what they were signing and there was no such clause in the agreement. The tenant’s question was the following: if there was no break clause, are they liable for the rent for the entire 12 months?
The answer is YES.
Some landlords can be very accommodating and will do anything to keep a good tenant happy. Other landlords when faced with losing vital income will stick to the rule of the law. From a legal perspective the tenant is liable for the rent for the full term of the lease. i.e. 12 months if there is no break clause. Break clauses usually run at 2 at 4 meaning after four months the tenant can serve notice, that notice being two months. The landlord therefore is guaranteed 6 months rent in such an instance.
In the case of the tenant who approached me I recommended that he discuss the issue with his landlord and see whether he would agree for the tenant to find a replacement to take on the balance of the lease. The tenant asked around his circle of friends and colleagues and was able to find someone who needed a place to live albeit at a cheaper rent. After much wrangling the prospective replacement tenant agreed to pay what had originally been agreed in the lease and the landlord was happy with the arrangement. The outgoing tenant paid for all the reference and credit checks so was still out of pocket but in the end, it was a smaller price to pay that the full six months’ rent remaining on the lease.