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Leaving early

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Aside from leaving during the window of opportunity as set out according to your break clause in the tenancy agreement, it can sometimes be possible to break the agreement prematurely. Some landlords and agents will allow you to release yourself from the agreement early, provided that you can find a satisfactory replacement tenant. This doesn't mean just anybody, but someone whose references and credentials meet the standards specified by the landlord or letting agent.

Retaking possession
There are also certain circumstances where a landlord is entitle to retake possession of the property. According to the Rent Act of 1977 there are 17 assorted grounds for a landlord to reclaim possession of a property. These include the following:

  • Rent payments are in arrears by more than 8 weeks or 2 months.
  • The tenant has damaged the property.
  • Breach of a term in the tenancy agreement.
  • You refuse or delay vital maintenance work to the building.
  • The tenant dies - no tenancy rights are passed to other members of the tenant's family.
  • The property was the landlord's home at some time in the past and he now needs it as his or her principal private residence.
  • The owner has gone bankrupt an the property is being repossessed.
  • The mortgagee exercises power of sale over the property.
  • The property is condemned to demolition or reconstruction.
  • You lied about yourself to gain residence of the property in the first place.

Illegal eviction
Tenants are protected by law against illegal eviction. Landlords who evict tenants by any means other than serving notice requiring possession via the Eviction Act of 1977 can face prosecution. If you are illegally evicted, you should seek legal advice as you have the right to apply for a court injunction to be allowed back into the property. The landlord may even be liable for an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment.

Assured tenancy
In the case of a fixed tenancy, the landlord must serve at least four weeks notice if he wants the tenant to leave during the fixed term. He must gain a court order to be able to evict the tenant. To end an assured tenancy, the tenant should send written notice by recorded delivery and keep a copy for him or herself.

Resident landlords
The rules are different for resident landlords. Tenants who move in to a property also occupied by the landlord are only entitled to receive the notice agreed at the start of the tenancy and the landlord does not need a court order to evict them.

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