When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Negotiate out of your tenancy agreement

Talk to the landlord about why you want to leave the property. Your landlord might be understanding about your problems and agree to allow you to leave the property before the contract ends.  You might be able to negotiate an early release if you agree to certain conditions.  These could include

  • agreeing that you will not receive your deposit back or
  • agreeing to find a replacement tenant or
  • paying any costs that an estate agent will charge to advertise and relet the property. 

If you are able to negotiate acceptable terms that allow you to leave the property before the end of your contract, make sure that the landlord puts his permission along with any conditions in writing and that you keep a copy of this letter or email.  This will be the proof that the landlord allowed you to leave and evidence that you did not break the contract without permission. 

Make sure you discuss your request to leave with your landlord and not just with the agent.  The agent is hired to act on the landlord's behalf, but may not always relay these requests to the landlord.  Your landlord's name, address and telephone number should be on your rent book and on your tenancy deposit information, even when an agent is managing the tenancy.  If the landlord's contact details are not on these documents your agent has broken the law.  You can use our template letters write to the agent asking for the landlord's details.  If the agent refuses to provide this information, report them to the council. 

Leaving without your landlord's consent

If you are unable to get the landlord's permission to leave the property and you decide to leave anyway, the landlord will be entitled to sue you for the rent that you owe under the remainder of the contract.  If he does this, it will be very difficult for you to defend this action at court and it is likely that a judge will agree that you have to pay this money.  However, the landlord can only charge you money for the period that the property was vacant.  Say, for example, that your contract is due to end in December and you move out in September, but new tenants move into the property in November.  In this situation, the landlord could only claim October's rent from you as he has not made any loss in November or December.   

Need help solving a problem?

You should always get advice if you are having problems with a tenancy. You can contact Housing Rights for advice on your rights. Housing Rights can also provide a mediation service if you and your landlord are having problems and need an independent person to help resolve these.