OpenRent Community

6 month break-clause - earliest we can leave?

Hi,

I have been asked to renew a 12-month assured shorthold tenancy agreement with my landlord. I’ve had an offer to buy a flat accepted but the conveyancing and legal work is currently ongoing. There is no date for completion, but it’s unlikely to be by the end of July which is when my tenancy agreement ends.

The agreement has a break clause included, but I’d appreciate some advice about when the earliest is that I could trigger it.

The clause is worded as follows:
“Either party may give at least two months’ written notice on the first day of the month to terminate this Agreement. The earliest this Notice can expire is on the last day of the sixth month of the tenancy.”

I read that as saying that the earliest I can give notice is on the first day of the 4th month and that I can leave on the last day of the 6th month. Does this mean I’m essentially financially committed for 6 months if I renew?

Thought or advice appreciated!

Yes you should give notice at the start of month 4 and leave at the end of the fixed period in month 6. You can leave anytime of course but you would still be liable to pay rent up to and including month 6.

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Hi Omega you ought to remember that you don’t have to sign a renewal at all if you arenot sure you want to be staying in the property for 6 months more.

If you think you will want to leave earlier than 6 months you can simply allow the current fixed term to expire. Then your contract will become a monthly tenancy. Your landlord will have to give you 2 months notice if they want to evict you, but you will only have to give 1 month notice.

This will help you move in promptly and pay less unnecessary rent!

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Hi Ingrid,

Thanks for your reply!

Just so I understand the situation - the letting agent has said they will soon be advertising our flat on the market for new tenants if we don’t choose to renew with them. Now, if we say we want to continue living in the property but don’t wish to sign a new 12-month tenancy agreement, do we have a right to stay in the property? (The landlord won’t like this because they like to have signed tenancy agreement).

If this is the case, and the landlord then wants to evict us when we have a periodic tenancy, do they have to prove anything before giving us notice or can they just ask us to leave? We’ve lived in the property for 5 years, always paid our rent on time and taken good care of the property.

Thanks so much for your advice!

Hi Omega & @ingrid - hope you don’t mind me jumping in here! I’ll try and answer a few of your Qs.

In a periodic tenancy (i.e. what your tenancy will become in July), the landlord will be able evict you without needing to ‘prove anything’. I.e. they can simply decide to evict you, even if you do nothing wrong. This is called a Section 21 eviction. (We have a big guide to how it works here.)

The landlord will need to give you at 2 months’ notice, though. You, as the tenant, can give just 1 month’s notice.

Assuming the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), which is the most common type, then you have no right to stay in the property.

I would recommend trying to get in touch with the agent as you could negotiate a solution that works for everyone. They will probably have two concerns:

  1. Can they evict you and find new tenants, which will allow them to charge the landlord another tenant-find fee and charge another set of tenants agency fees
  2. Will the property be void for any period of time (which will cost them or the landlord money since no rent would be coming in)

If you explain that you expect to be moving out within a few months of July and offer to give 2 months’ notice instead of just 1, then this would probably satisfy those two concerns: (1) you will be moving out soon enough and (2) with 2 months’ notice, they will be able to let the property before you move out, thus avoiding a void period.

If they refuse this, then you still have some options but they will depend on when the agent serves notice.

Keep us updated and let me know if you need any more info!

Sam

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Agents are not just looking out for their fees they are managing the property for the landlord. It is right agents should keep the tenancy in a fixed term if that is what landlord wants.

Omega good luck moving into your new home, ridiculous how long the process is in this country

No I think it is proper to be sensible here. Agents want money - if it takes turning over perfectly suitable tenancies year after year to make that money, most agents will do it and pocket their fees.

Periodic often suits landlord and tenant - everyone except agent,

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Hi @Sam, many thanks for your response.

When you say " Assuming the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), which is the most common type, then you have no right to stay in the property", my understanding is that I have every right to remain in the property unless or until the landlord issues a valid section 21 or section 8 notice. So when the FTC ends, the very next day a periodic tenancy begins and I can continue living in the property. The only way the landlord can get us to leave is if a court order asks us to leave, and that may take several months to arrange a hearing.

I think your recommendation about how to approach the renewal is really sensible and I would be happy to say that I would offer them 2 months notice before leaving. However, if there’s no AST in place, do you have any suggestions about how to reassure them of this in the absence of a written contract?

@newsomer-residential - I agree. Here though I think it’s about finding a pragmatic response that reassures the agent but also respects the legal position of the tenant.

Any advice / suggestions much appreciated!

Hi Omega - my apologies for not being as clear as I could have been!

I meant that if the landlord serves a Section 21 notice that expires after the fixed term ends, then you have no right to stay in the property.

You’re right that you could probably stay on in the property for several months by being noncompliant with any legal actions the agent takes to have their eviction notice enforced.

But it’s likely you’d have to pay for the landlord’s court fees, which can run up to many hundreds of pounds, and you will also be sacrificing a good reference from your previous landlord, which is a standard part of the tenant referencing checks when applying for new properties. Although, if you’re moving into your own home, then this might not be a concern for you!

Hoping that the agent is open to your reasonable request of a few months of rolling tenancy,

Sam

Hi All,
My rental agreement has the following break clause:
The Tenant may end this Tenancy on any date which is 6 months after the start
of the Tenancy by giving the Landlord at least 2 months’ notice in writing.
The rental agreement started 01 July 2020.
Does this mean I can vacant the property by 31 December 2020, by giving notice by the 30 October 2020?
Please keep me posted.
Kind regards
Stefanie

That has to be the worst wording I’ve ever read for a break clause, and I’ve seen some howlers. Arguably there is only one date which is 6 months after the start of the tenancy so its a nonsense for the clause to refer to ANY date. I think you can end the tenancy on 1 January 2021 by giving notice on 1 November of earlier. However, I am not an expert on break clauses and they are notoriously slippery.