What is a Break Clause?
Having the option to end your tenancy early can come in handy if you’ve recently lost your job, are offered a new one in a different city, or if any other significant change in your life prompts a move. Sometimes it’s as simple as not liking your new home as much as you thought. Landlords realise how important this flexibility is for renters, so break clauses are becoming more popular in tenancy agreements.
Every contract is different. Not ever tenancy agreement will have a break clause, as they are not legally mandatory. If your tenancy agreement does include a break clause, it will permit the landlord or tenant to break the tenancy usually about six months before the end of the tenancy agreement, or the middle point of your tenancy, with a likely notice of 1-2 months. If the tenancy is meant to last for two years, the break clause will likely be applicable after the 12th month.
How to use your break clause
If you are looking to end your tenancy early, firstly check if your contract has a break clause. Read your tenancy agreement carefully to check when exactly you can use the clause, and make sure you have enough time to give your landlord sufficient notice.
When it comes to joint fixed term tenancies, using the break clause to end your tenancy is typically only possible if all joint tenants agree to do so. This isn’t the case 100% of the time, so check your contract to see if it says something different.
How to find a break clause in your tenancy agreement
Read your tenancy agreement and look for anything about ending the tenancy. It could be called a break clause, something similar, or it may just be referred to as generally ending the contract or agreement and should refer to giving notice.
You’ll know it’s a break clause because it will state exactly when you or your landlord can give notice, and how much notice you’d need to give. Of course, if you’re not sure you are able to break your tenancy early make sure you ask your landlord or agent to clear this up, and make sure to get this in writing.
What to watch out for
There is no standard format for break clauses, but there is usually a date after which you are able to use the break clause. Some tenancy agreements may even restrict you to using the break clause at an exact point in the tenancy or not after a certain date has passed.
If you don’t read your break clause carefully, move out and therefore end your tenancy incorrectly, your landlord is able to take you to court in order to claim back any unpaid rent, leading to you likely losing your deposit.
When giving notice, remember that your right to live in the property ends when your notice ends. Normally, you cannot withdraw notice for a break clause so only use it if you have a new place to live lined up.
What if there is no break clause?
If you know there’s a chance you’ll need to move out earlier than your contract states, you can ask your landlord or managing agent to include a break clause into your contract. The same goes for joint tenancies, is there is no mention of ending a joint fixed term tenancy early using a break clause, you can discuss this with your landlord. Your landlord is under no obligation to agree, but it’s always worth asking!