Fixed term tenancy agreements

Our laywer Fiona McNulty explains the difficulty of terminating a fixed term tenancy contract early, without the landlord's agreement
Fixed term tenancy agreements cartoon
© Merrily Harpur
Question: We have been renting a house for six years and our current tenancy agreement is for a fixed term of 12 months, from 11 September last year to 10 September this year, with no break clause in it.

We can no longer afford the rent and want to move, so we have given our landlord one month’s notice. He will not accept this, saying that we must stay until the end of our tenancy on 10 September. What are our options? We had considered subletting for the rest of the term.

Answer: A tenancy agreement is essentially a contract and what you can do during its term will be governed by the terms of the agreement.

Where it is for a fixed term of 12 months, unfortunately, unless there is a clause which allows you to terminate the agreement before the 12 months are up, your landlord is under no obligation to allow you to leave before the end of the term.

The tenancy can be brought to an end by agreement before the end of the fixed term but without your landlord’s agreement, the notice you have served is likely to be of no effect.

You will only be entitled to sublet if it is provided for in the agreement. It is unusual for a short-term tenancy to permit subletting. If you just leave the property this is known as abandonment and does not bring the agreement to an end.

The landlord is entitled to treat the agreement as ongoing and can apply to the local County Court for an order to make you pay the rent that falls due and goes unpaid.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors

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