Things are messed up right now, and the fall out might have impacted your income or your housemates’ income… whatever the case, if your living situation might have changed drastically, you could be considering an early move.
Check out these tips which will help you stop or minimise the costs of breaking your tenancy agreement.
Remember: before you exit the property or stop paying rent, get all changes and confirmation in writing.
My tenancy hasn’t begun, can I break my contract before I move in?
If you’ve only paid the holding deposit, and you are serious about not moving in, tell your agent or landlord right now. It is highly likely that you will lose your holding deposit.
If you’ve signed the contract, you are legally obliged to keep to the terms you agreed to. Unfortunately there is no ‘cooling off period’ for rental contracts even if you only viewed the property and signed for it virtually.
- Review your contract and break clause to see what your rights are.
- It’s then up to the landlord’s discretion whether to add charges. Remember that it is in their best interest to get a long-term tenant.
- Ask if you can help them find a suitable replacement. If the landlord doesn’t lose any money and knows you are trying to make it work with them, it’s more likely you’ll get your money back.
It is worth noting that if you think the property and the leasing of the property was at all misleading, you may be able to terminate the contract. You should clearly tell your agent or landlord how you have been misled and your intention to break the contract. This is called ‘unwinding’ and you can find more details here.
I’m moving out before the end of my tenancy, will I lose my deposit?
A deposit can be held if you don’t negotiate an early end to your contract. You remain on the hook for all missed rent and damages but there should be no deposit deductions for check out or admin fees. You can check any charges against the TDS Fee Matrix.
Before you up and leave, here are the steps to take to try and get your full deposit back:
- Review the terms of your rental contract and if there were any details that mean you can act on your break clauses.
- Discuss your situation with your landlord. If your situation changed due to COVID-19 (e.g. furloughed and on reduced salary) make sure to be open about it. This is because in accordance with government’s guidelines, landlords are to be flexible to tenants during this time.
- Get all changes agreed in writing from your landlord or agent as if they dispute the early break, it’s best to have the end of contract confirmation in writing.
Consider the amount that you are willing to forfeit if they ask you to pay an early termination fee. If it is significantly less than all the ongoing costs, it might be worth agreeing to these costs to save more money in the long run.
What other options do I have?
Most of your options come down to communication with your landlord or checking through your contract with a careful eye.
If there is no way out of the contract you could sublet the room/flat. There has been a spike in subletting for renters who are unable to negotiate an early release from their contract.
Here is what the experts say when it comes to subletting:
- Solicitor Piers King says to check your lease carefully because you will likely need your landlord’s consent to sublet.
- No Letting Go outlines that you will be responsible for damages and that no payments should be accepted until an agreement is in place.
- The Government has asked those inspecting or moving between properties to follow their revised coronavirus guidelines.
- As Marc Schneiderman of Arlington Residential says “the climate has changed and the dynamics between landlords and tenants are shifting”, meaning in either case, your landlord should be working with you to find solutions.