OpenRent Community

6 Month break clause - questions

Hello all

I have lived in this property since January 2014, and for the last two years I have had what I thought was a simple 6 month break clause written into my contract that was triggerable after the initial 6 month term, however, I have found a house to buy (conveyancing just beginning so should take 8-10 weeks)

Having spoken to my landlord lastnight she is looking like she will insist I must stay until end of Jan 2020 (or pay rent to cover this)

My tenancy agreement commenced on 5th January 2019 and the clause I refer to has been directly cut and pasted below

gg) The Landlord agrees that the Tenant has the right to terminate the Tenancy at the end of the first six months of the Term by giving to the Landlord not less than two month’s notice in writing to be sent by first class post or hand delivery to the address of the Premises to end the Tenancy. To avoid any doubt between the parties it is agreed that the notice period cannot take effect any earlier than 26th May 2019 and cannot expire any earlier than 25th July 2019. If the Tenant does not give notice to expire at the end of the first six months of the Tenancy it is agreed between the parties that the Tenant will be bound for the whole of the fixed Term which expires on 25th January 2020, when the notice period expires the Agreement shall cease. This does not affect the right of either the Landlord or the Tenant to pursue their legal remedies against the other for any existing breach of any rights under the Agreement.

Questions

Is this enforcable? I have had mixed messages that only one fixed term is allowed per break clause, thereafter the notice period is 2 months to leave

Any advice on how to deal with this? I have already offered the olive branch of being very helpful finding new tenants, showing prospective tenants around and being extremely flexible to do so.

Thanks - Scott

That clause seems pretty clear to me; from reading it I don’t think you have any right to break early, and I’ve never heard of a term like this described as unfair or unenforceable.

Anything is possible by mutual agreement though. As you’ve been in the property and paid rent for 5 years, one would hope the landlord could see reason here and let you out early. They may have some costs to cover though, perhaps offering to cover those (reasonable) costs would help.

Shelter has a good page on ending a fixed-term AST early: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/private_renting/how_tenants_can_end_a_fixed_term_tenancy

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Thanks for the response. I see no reason why my landlord would be forcing me to stay to the end of the contract if I serve her with 8-12 weeks notice. She will incur costs wether I leave then or in January 2020

Today I have had this dumped on me also which further confuses me

You will be liable for part of the landlords re-letting cost. This will be calculated from the date the new tenancy agreement commences [until the 25th of January 2020]. This will be charged at a daily rate based on the fee payable to the xxx Group. We cannot confirm the exact amount at this time but to give you an idea this fee will be around £116 per month plus VAT.

You would also be liable for the costs incurred by the landlord for the new tenant which would be the tenancy agreement, registering deposit, right to rent checks, references. This cost is £275+VAT. You would also be liable for the cost of the inventory reports for the landlord which would be £288 inclusive of VAT. If the landlord were to incur any charges for changing details on any existing policies these costs would need to also be covered.

These two terms are surely just trying to hang me out to dry?!

Thanks

See a property Lawyer

She’s taking the proverbial p*ss (excuse my language).

Thanks Clive, glad to see you are on the same page as I am. I have been stewing all night over this, utterly disgraceful behaviour given what I have done for her in 5 years and the favours alongwith.

Where do you think I stand on the above? I will be contacting the CAB to see what they say also.

Thanks

** ** good luck with the CAB, they are not used to handling landlords, only tenants… 20 years ago when I went to them over a tenant they were perplexed as how to advise me as “we only ever see tenants”… … I await the results and hope I am wrong for your sake

Scott6 I agree with Colin3. Though it can’t do any harm in talking to the CAB. Good luck.

Scott6 got a bit mixed up in my reply there I have ammended it

I am not a lawyer, and suggest you seek legal advice, but I don’t think you have much of a leg to stand on here.

Technically, you are liable to pay rent for the full term of the tenancy, as the terms of the break clause can no longer be met. It’s only by agreement with the landlord that you are able to leave early and pay only re-letting costs. These costs don’t seem unreasonable… although I’m a bit confused by the monthly rate. What is that for exactly?

The rest of the re-letting costs sound in-line with market rates, and it is not unreasonable to pay these, given the landlord is absolving you from having to pay 5 more months of rent.

I do think the landlord is being a bit of a dick by making you pay for this, after you have been there for 5 years, but legally I think she’s in the right. The break clause is quite specific, and there is probably a good reason for those terms.

Hi Scott, I’d recommend seeking some advice on this if you are not sure.

In general, fixed terms are binding — that’s the point of them I suppose.

However, as several Community members have said here (including some landlords), it is very common to come to mutual agreements with the landlord to end the tenancy early; especially when the tenant is willing to find their replacement, conduct the viewings etc.

If it is not possible to activate the break clause (e.g. because it has elapsed), and the landlord isn’t willing to surrender the tenancy by mutual consent, then you are most likely bound to any and all enforceable terms in the tenancy agreement.

Shelter and Citizens Advice are both great resources for getting advice.

Sam

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One of my tenants just ended early as he said he was struggling with the rent. So I just let him go early, better to have an empty place and find another tenant than a struggler not able to pay. Thats my view as a landlord. . However I dont want anyone to find a tenant except myself

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