What To Do If A Tenant Wants To Leave Before The End Of The Contract?

Two tenants have signed a 12 month contract commencing on 1 March 2014 at £750 PCM for twelve months. One tenant is working but the other looks after the two young children full time. An opportunity to live and work in Australia comes along and the tenants contact the landlord/letting agent to explain they are giving one month notice to vacate the property and are moving abroad. The one month notice expires on 31 July 2014. What are the options open to the landlord?

To insist the contract runs its full course and the rent is paid up until 28 February 2015 as per the contract?

There are potential problems for the landlord if he insists on the tenancy running its full term. The tenants might do a ‘moonlight flip’, disappearing abroad providing no forwarding address, cancelling the standing order and leaving the property empty, the rent not paid and making it very difficult to contact them and secure any outstanding payments. Even if they agree to pay the rent and actually pay it the property would be empty over the winter months with all of the problems that this can cause flood, damp, cold. An empty property also has implications for the landlords insurance e.g drain down the heating system, seal up the letter boxes.

The more practical solution would be to liaise with the tenants.

Explain to them that they are in a legally binding contract but in an effort to help their situation agree to release them from the contract once a new tenant has been secured and they cover the landlords set up costs. You are going to get more cooperation from the tenants in this situation.

Solution two is a win win for both parties. The landlord has a continuous rental stream, his set up costs are covered and the property is not left empty for potentially weeks or months. The tenants benefit in that they have peace of mind by ending the contract on good terms with the landlord, they will be able to get a reference from the landlord/agent and they would have saved thousands of pounds in rent.