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April 16, 2009 1:21 PM   Subscribe

What does breaking a lease entail in the UK/England? Also: help!

Basically my question boils down to: how much trouble will I be in if I break a lease in the UK/England? Is it like here in the US, where I'd likely lose my deposit and have to pay an extra month? I don't want to do this but it seems to be looking likely that I might have no other choice. It's turning out to be harder to find a nice, furnished apartment/house in the area I want (it's close to London and has amenities that I need because there are kids involved).

I guess I'd also welcome any advice on finding a place that'll rent to me for three months (have tried: Gumtree, property agent websites, vacation rental websites, executive apartment websites) or suggestions on cheaper than London but no more than an hour away by train cities/towns in England. With stuff to do (like parks and attractions and cool things/places to explore).
posted by cooker girl to Travel & Transportation around United Kingdom (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Whenever I have been in a situation like that, I've just made sure I rented with a deposit equal to a months rent. Then, when I need to move out, just fail to pay the last months rent (amid furious apologies and generally trying to keep people sweet) - you just stall the last payment for the last month you are still in there (If that isn't clear enough. If you haven't damaged anything that they can chase after you for, generally, they may bitch a bit but there's nothing you can do.

There's really no major penalty for this, and I've done this a few times (only when I had to) and its never been an issue. Some places may consider renting for three months, but you'll need to get a sympathetic landlord and get them on side quickly.
posted by Brockles at 1:41 PM on April 16, 2009

Check the contract. If it's anything like the shorthold tenancy agreements I've had in the past, there may well be a notice clause - you can give your landlord one month's notice of termination without it affecting your deposit. You may be able to negotiate such a clause in advance in the tenancy.
posted by Electric Dragon at 1:45 PM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: I'd agree with Electric Dragon, you need ot have a look at the lease, presuming you've got a written one. There's quite a bit of helpful advice for renting on the shelter website.
posted by kg at 2:05 PM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: Note by Law all deposits in England and Wales must be protected by a Government approved Deposit Protection Scheme. If the landlord to do so, or fails to provide the relevant details of how it is protected within 14 days of your tenancy starting, you can apply to the court for an order to force the landlord to either protect, or return your deposit. In addition compensation equivalent to three time your deposit could be paid if they actually failed to protect it. The landlord can only withhold money from your deposit if they have suffered actual financial loss, i.e. through damage to the property or unpaid rent. If there is a dispute about the deposit they must offer the services of an independent panel to resolve this dispute.

You may be liable to continue paying rent on a property after you leave depending on the type, and nature of the tenancy agreement. If you have a fixed term tenancy such as the standard six month Assured Shorthold Tenancy you will be liable for rent for the whole six month period unless the tenancy includes a break cause (see Ending a fixed term agreement). However these are not uncommon. Your local Housing Advice Center will be able to give advice about a tenancy agreement, typically free of charge.

If you have a periodic tenancy you can move out by giving one months notice unless the tenancy includes a shorter period (see Ending a Periodic Tenancy). N.B. A fixed term tenancy automatically converts to a periodic one if the original term runs out an a new tenancy is not signed.

Shelter has an excellent website, full of advice about renting and other housing matters. This includes a Tenancy Checker that will enable you to determine your legal rights. They also run a number of housing advice centers and a free legal advice line (call 0808 800 4444). If you are a student most colleges have housing advice workers that can help you, as can a solicitor.
posted by tallus at 2:16 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I can't help with the breaking the lease thing too much, whenever I've been in a remotely similar situation, I've found a replacement person to take over the lease. But this has been in shared houses with joint contracts.

You can't withhold the last months rent and use the deposit for it instead. That's not what it's for.

In terms of looking for places, I don't know if Gumtree is used as much outside London and big towns and cities. Especially if you are looking for a family home. Try contacting agents directly, I'd also try looking in classified ads in the local newspapers, here for instance is the Reading Evening Post.

If you're coming here for work/study ask if you can put a note on the organisation's intranet, send an email round the department in case anyone knows someone who might be able to help.

The problem with areas about an hour from London is that a lot of people want to live there, for the same reasons as you, so they're not always so cheap. I'd think the advantage of London is that the population is more transient, so things like short-term sublets are more common.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:30 PM on April 16, 2009

Response by poster: Okay, follow up: in the classifieds (and elsewhere) I've come across terms I don't know. PCM (does that somehow mean pounds per month?), DSS (no clue), and maisonette. I'm sure there are more but I can't think of them now.
posted by cooker girl at 4:18 PM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: A maisonette is a flat of sorts (just watched Location, Location, Location with this very request).

Wikipedia says: Maisonette: an apartment / flat on two levels with internal stairs, or which has its own entrance at street level.

I'd imagine DSS to be Department of Social Security (according to a quick Google). Stuff to do with either DSS-owned housing or being on benefits.

PCM = Per Calendar Month, I believe. Support for that here.
posted by djgh at 4:48 PM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: DSS = on housing benefits (maybe other benefits too)

Other terms you might need:

(g)ch = (gas) central heating (as opposed to electric storage heaters usually)
dg = double glazing
osp = off street parking

djgh is correct with the rest
posted by Helga-woo at 5:02 PM on April 16, 2009

so "no DSS" in an advert means that the landlord will not rent to a potential tenant who is receiving housing benefit (or probably any other income related benefit).
posted by patricio at 5:40 PM on April 16, 2009

PCM = per calender month. Basically it means you will be cahrged the same amount of rent at the end of Feburary than you would at the end of January.
posted by Laura_J at 2:28 AM on April 17, 2009

Charged even
posted by Laura_J at 2:28 AM on April 17, 2009

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