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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7150
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hi there, I would like to move out of a 3 year fixed term

Resolved Question:

Hi there,

I would like to move out of a 3 year fixed term AST in the next 2 or 3 months. I moved in on 14th January 2012 and the end date is 14th January 2015. My father has become ill, so I need to leave the area.

I was originally rushed to sign the contract and was told, in front of a witness (my friend), that I could give 2 months notice on the property if I wanted to move out, but there is no break clause in the written contract. Is that witness / verbal agreement enough to get me out of the contract early?

I spoke to the estate agent property manager for my flat and she basically said that "this is the written contract, it doesn't allow you to break out of it, if you want to move out you have to find someone to take over the contract".
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.

What have the agents said about your suggestion that they said you could move out on 2 months notice?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Tom,


They really didn't give me much time to talk about it / weren't prepared to listen. They just kept repeating that "this is what is in the contract, so I can't break out of it"... despite the fact that I know they said it and my witness confirms it as well.

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Drafting your answer now. 5 mins.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

ok, thank you.

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for your patience.

Where there is a written contract your right to leave the property is generally governed by what the written contract says. If the contract does not have a break clause in it then the assumption will be that you are not entitled to terminate the contract.

To be quite honest I would not advise relying on your oral discussions prior to signing the contract. The problem is that although you felt rushed in to signing the contract there was no form of legal duress preventing you from saying that you will not sign until you had read the contract. Had you done so, you would have seen that there was no break clause.

If you wished to attempt to proceed on the basis of your oral discussions then you would effectively be alleging misrepresentation by the agent. The problem with this is that you would have been able to establish the terms of the contract by reading it, which a court would view that any reasonable person would do.

In practical terms, you can attempt to make as much noise about their misrepresentation in correspondence to them stating that you will sue (which I would not be too confident of) and complain to the property ombudsmen (who are not likely to provide a practical solution to you) to see if they choke and offer to release you.

Landlords are generally under a duty not to unreasonably refuse a suitable tenant and your focus now should be on finding one. You can then use to find a tenant (private landlords frequently use this service. If they refuse a reasonable replacement tenant that you bring to them then you can document this in writing through your correspondence with them and then use this as a defence to any claim that they issue for the rent.

If you cannot find any tenants and wish to get out quickly then you can invite them to offer you a surrender of tenancy, whereby you agree in writing to release eachother from the tenancy subject (usually, unless they are massively sympathetic) to payment of a surrender fee to the landlord. You can attempt to negotiate from here.

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Kind regards,

Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7150
Experience: BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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