Leaving lease early - potential penalties

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  • Leaving lease early - potential penalties

    I am in a situation where one of my flatmates has become unreasonable (entering my room without permission, causing minor damage to my personal possessions). My landlord lives in the flat as well and is aware of the situation, but will not let me out of the lease early. I have been trying to find a replacement tenant for 6 weeks with no luck.

    My question is, what are the potential penalties if I surrendered my security deposit (1 month rent) and moved out early? My lease has no break clause, but it is a very sketchy lease - it has nothing about the landlord's obligations, or even the address of the flat. If anyone could tell me about the legal trouble I might potentially be in, I would be very grateful.

  • #2
    You could potentially be sued for the value of the rent until the earlier of:

    1) The end of your contract
    2) Someone else moves into your room
    3) You come to an agrement with the landlord

    Number 3 often involves parting with cash - but less cash than you would potentially be liable for. After all, why else would the landlord agree? If you were sued for anything, you may be able to convince the judge that it was reasonable for you to break the contract - but there are no guarantees.

    If you do agree anything, get it in writing.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by hamletsmith View Post
      I am in a situation where one of my flatmates has become unreasonable (entering my room without permission, causing minor damage to my personal possessions). My landlord lives in the flat as well and is aware of the situation, but will not let me out of the lease early. I have been trying to find a replacement tenant for 6 weeks with no luck.

      My question is, what are the potential penalties if I surrendered my security deposit (1 month rent) and moved out early? My lease has no break clause, but it is a very sketchy lease - it has nothing about the landlord's obligations, or even the address of the flat. If anyone could tell me about the legal trouble I might potentially be in, I would be very grateful.
      It appears to me that you are a lodger and not a tenant as your landlord is resident, and any 'lease' will not be binding. if you share facilities such as cooking and washing with the landlord then you definitely do not have a landlord & tenant relationship as defined by the Housing Act 1988 and 1996. You might well have terms agreed between yourselves but it only forms a contract between two individuals but not a lease or assured shorthold tenancy agreement.
      The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

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      • #4
        Thanks - that's correct, it is a "lease" between two individuals. So in that case, it's not a proper contract? And I won't be liable for the rest of the rent for the period?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by hamletsmith View Post
          Thanks - that's correct, it is a "lease" between two individuals. So in that case, it's not a proper contract? And I won't be liable for the rest of the rent for the period?
          Not at all.

          Whether the arrangement is a tenancy (lease) or not is not relevant to whether it is binding. A licence is just as binding as a tenancy. If you have agreed a fixed term you are contractually bound by it.

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          • #6
            Hamletsmith

            We ahve just taken an ex-tenant to court for rent arrears because she moved out early and refused to pay the rent for the remaining time left on tenancy agreement, slightly different to your situation, but she used all sorts of reasons for leaving early, non of which we as landlords could change, so the judge told her she had to pay arrears and costs.

            If your agreement is legally binding and it went to court the judge may well agree with the landlord as your reason for leaving is because of damage caused by a third party.

            If someone was entering a room I rented and damaging my personal things I would report the matter to the police as criminal damage.

            I have no legal training and the advice I offer is my own personal feelings about your situation.

            Mr/MrsLandlord

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