Strictly speaking, you can’t break your lease and leave early unless there is a break-clause in the contract. Or you can, but you’ll still be responsible for the rent. You’ll also be responsible for all the bills, including council tax and water rates, and you’ll be responsible for any damage that might occur to the property if it’s left empty.
If you really can’t stay until the end of your lease, or you really don’t want to, the best advice is to speak to your landlord or letting agent asap and see if they can allow you to break the lease.
The landlord might not mind you leaving early if they are able to easily re-let the property. If they do re-let the property, be aware that they might charge you for their out of pocket expenses, such as the cost of re-advertising and re-markting the property, plus the costs of drawing up a new tenancy agreement and protecting the new deposit. However, they mustn’t charge you more than the rent due until the end of the term.
The landlord might agree to you sub-letting the property to a third-party, but if you do this you will still be responsible for the rent and any damage caused. You will become what’s known as a mesne tenant.
Obviously, if you do sub-let, you should make sure that whoever takes over the property is trustworthy. Ideally, you should get a credit check and reference report and take a deposit. If you do take a deposit, this must be registered with a government-backed scheme.
As you are acting as a landlord, you must also make sure the tenant has a right to live in the UK, by checking to see if they have an EU or Swiss passport or any relevant visas.
If you sub-let the property without your landlord’s consent, you will be in breach of your tenancy agreement and they could decide to evict you. If so, your sub-tenant will also be evicted, but your landlord must follow the correct eviction proceedings.
Assigning your tenancy
Your landlord might agree to someone else taking over the remainder of your tenancy. For this to happen, you would have to sign a Deed of Assignment, along with any remaining tenants, the landlord and the replacement tenant. For the assignment to be valid, all your signatures on the Deed would have to be witnessed.
Your landlord will probably expect you to find someone to take over the tenancy and they will probably want to carry out a credit check and reference report before agreeing to the assignment. They might expect you or whoever is taking over your tenancy to pay for this.
You should avoid making any plans until the re-assignment is complete. The landlord might reject the tenant, or they might change their minds. People often do, often at the last minute.
Once the assignment is confirmed, you will be free of any further obligations to your landlord.
*Please note, this site is run by experienced landlords, not lawyers and as such none of the information is intended as legal advice. If you are unsure of your situation, you are best advised to consult a qualified lawyer.*