Can I break a fixed-term tenancy?

Sometimes situations change, and that can mean you need to move. If you own the property you’re living in, that’s all fine and dandy, but things can become a little more difficult when you’re in a fixed-term tenancy.

Speak to your landlord

The first thing you’ll need to do is to speak to your landlord. If they agree to end the tenancy early then all you need to do is to make sure you have this agreement in writing. Once you’ve done so, then it’s just like finishing a fixed-term tenancy, and you simply have to keep paying rent until the new move-out date when you’re free to leave.

Assigning your tenancy

If your landlord doesn’t agree to this, then you could consider assigning the tenancy to someone else. You’ll need to find someone who is prepared to take over your tenancy for the remaining time, and the landlord will also need to decide whether they consider them suitable tenants. If your landlord deems them suitable, then they will have the new tenants sign a new tenancy agreement, and you will be released from your agreement and all the responsibilities associated with it.

Subletting

If you can’t find someone to take over the tenancy, you may be able to sublet the property. This is potentially risky because you’re still the tenant, and therefore you are still responsible for any damage that is caused by those who sublet the property. Just as a landlord has to be careful in their selection of prospective tenants, you need to be careful in who you choose to sublet the property.
Before you consider either of these options, you’ll need to check if there are any clauses in your tenancy agreement that stops you from switching to another tenant or subletting and remaining the tenant while not actually living in the property.


If you desperately need to get out of your fixed-term tenancy and you have tried:

  • speaking to your landlord
  • finding a replacement tenant

with no success, you can try going to the Tenancy Tribunal.
Make sure you bring evidence of the fact that an unforeseen change has caused you hardship, and you need to break the tenancy. These sort of factors could include:

  • the loss of a job
  • a chronic illness or disability
  • the breakdown of a relationship, or
  • a death in your family.

If the Tribunal believes that it is unreasonable to expect you to stay in your tenancy, then they may allow you to break it.
Be aware that the Tenancy Tribunal may also order you to pay compensation to your landlord. This is to cover the costs of things like advertising and finding another tenant. It’s also worth being aware of the fact that if you can’t prove that there is an unexpected circumstance that has affected your ability to continue the tenancy, and simply stop paying rent, the Tribunal can order you to pay that rent to the landlord. It’s important, therefore, that if you are planning on going to the Tenancy Tribunal, that you do it as soon as possible, and make sure that you can prove that there is a strong reason behind your need to end the tenancy early.
Featured photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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