UK Property Law
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Is there a break clause in the AST?
That is a problem I'm afraid.
ASTs are very hard to escape. Usually you have to exercise a break clause, act with the consent of your landlord or show that the property is uninhabitable because it has suffered something like gutting with fire damage.
The landlady is right in this instance. She is not responsible for the actions of the neighbour and if she will not agree to release you then leaving early is a breach.
In fairness, she is under a duty to mitigate her loss by seeking a replacement tenant if you were to leave early but over Christmas that is obviously hard to do and your liability could be longer than normal.
In truth, if this ends in February anyway then it is not really worth the risk.
You do have to give notice to leave in February also. The contract does not just expire.
Can I clarify anything for you?