If a landlord finds himself in a situation where a tenant has requested terminating a tenancy agreement early, the tenancy agreement should have clear terms under which the tenant can give notice to terminate the agreement. In most circumstances the tenant will have to give two months notice prior to the end date of the tenancy. If the tenant tries to get out of the agreement early without giving notice in terms of the tenancy agreement, the landlord may have a claim for any losses incurred.
At the outset of the tenancy, the tenancy agreement should clearly outline that any attempts to prematurely end the tenancy may result in the tenant being liable for any losses incurred by the landlord as a result of the tenant's actions. Both parties will therefore be clear as to the consequences of such actions.
The landlord may however still find himself in the following situations:-
- Tenant absconds from the property without giving any notice or advising the landlord. In this case, there has been no formal termination of the agreement. The landlord will carry out a risk assessment to establish whether the tenant has actually gone. For more information on absconding tenants read our blog article here.
- Tenant advises the landlord that he intends on terminating early and hands back the keys. The landlord should get something in writing to this effect, and make it clear to the tenant he may be liable for certain losses incurred as a result of his breach of the tenant tenancy agreement.
In both cases the landlord is likely have a claim against the tenant for losses incurred by virtue of their early departure. However the landlord cannot simply wait until the tenancy was due to end and then pursue the tenant for the lost rent for that period. The landlord is legally obliged to take steps to mitigate any loss he incurs. This would include taking steps to re-let the property and get a new tenant as soon as possible. Once a new tenant is in the property and paying the on-going rent, the landlord can look at any loss that was incurred during the void period between the former tenant leaving and the new tenant taking up occupation. That loss could be pursued against the former tenant.
If you'd like further legal advice regarding your individual circumstances as a landlord - get in touch.