When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Break clause

Your tenancy agreement is a legal contract. Your landlord does not have to end the agreement early if you don't want to live at the property any longer. 

But, some contracts include a break clause. This is a term that allows the landlord or tenant to end the agreement early. 

Do all contracts have break clauses?

It is rare for a tenancy agreement to have a break clause. But, they are included in some contracts. 

Usually, a break clause will include conditions you have to meet if you want to end the contract early. These can include

  • finding a replacement tenant
  • paying a penalty fee
  • paying the cost of advertising for a new tenant.

Can a break clause apply only to the landlord?

All terms in a tenancy agreement must be fair. It is not fair if a break clause lets the landlord end the agreement early, but doesn't give the tenant the same right. 

Speak to our advisers if you think your tenancy agreement is unfair. 

Not sure if your tenancy agreement has a break clause?

Most tenancy agreements have a term about notice to quit. This usually explains how much notice you have to give and how you should serve this notice. 

A term about notice to quit is not a break clause. 

Your landlord can sue you for unpaid rent if you give notice to quit and move out before the contract ends. 

Get advice if you are not sure if your contract has a break clause.

What happens if you move out before the end of your tenancy?

If you move out before the end of your tenancy, your landlord can

  • keep your deposit
  • take you, or your guarantor, to court for unpaid rent.

Get advice if you need to move out early.