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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Leaving tenancy early

Tenants who are subject to a fixed term agreement should not move out until that term has passed. However, that may not stop a tenant trying to leave the property before the term expires. If this happens, it may be best to negotiate an exit agreement with your tenant that reimburses you for any out of pocket costs.

In very limited circumstances, consumer protection regulations may allow you to "unwind" your tenancy agreement.  This right only applies within the first 90 days of the contract and will only apply if you can show that you only entered into the contract because of misleading information or aggressive practices. 

Your tenancy agreement is a legal contract and you are bound by the agreement until it expires.  If you leave before the contract expires, your landlord can sue you for any outstanding rent. However, the landlord is bound by the contract in the same way that you are.  If you feel the landlord has materially breached the agreement, you can use this argument to defend yourself at court.

Your tenants are entitled to serve you with a Notice to Quit and must do so if they wish to vacate the property. This can happen with periodic tenants or tenants in a fixed term who wish to end the tenancy early. If your tenants leave during the period of their tenancy agreement, you can take court action against them to be reimbursed for unpaid rent.

You can’t simply decide to leave a property and move out immediately. By law, you have to give your landlord a fixed period of written notice informing him or her of your intention to quit the property. This is known as a Notice to Quit. Your landlord also has to provide you with notice if he or she wants you to move out.

You will usually have a joint tenancy if someone else's name is on the tenancy agreement as well as your own. This might be one other person or a number of people. Joint tenants have exactly the same rights and responsibilities as each other.

There are many reasons why you may want to leave a tenancy early. However, unless there is a clause allowing you to do so in your tenancy agreement, it can be difficult to leave once you’ve signed a rental contract.

Moving home is stressful. Once you’ve given your landlord Notice to Quit, you should start planning your move. You need to think about disconnecting your utilities and finding alternative accommodation.

Most tenants pay a security deposit when they move into a property. This is the tenant's money and should be returned at the end of the tenancy unless the tenant owes the landlord money. The deposit should be returned in full unless the landlord has suffered a genuine financial loss as a result of your actions. If your landlord has unfairly kept some of your deposit you should try to get this money back.

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