Is this rental break clause dated wrongly?
November 15, 2016 7:26 AM   Subscribe

Help me clarify the break clause in this English tenancy agreement.

Hi Ask,

I'm in the UK. We have a 24 month lease (started November 2015) and agreed to an 18 month break clause. Here's how that clause is worded in the contract:

"This agreement may be terminated early by the tenants upon the serving of two months notice in writing not to be served before 03/05/2017 to the following address..." [Note: British date format]

May 2017 is the 18-month mark - that's when we would expect to move out if we invoked the break clause. The above seems to suggest we need to serve our two months' notice by May - meaning the contract wouldn't end until July 2017. I didn't notice this when we signed but this doesn't make sense, as we wanted an 18-month break. Am I interpreting this wrongly? Do I have any recourse against this if not?
posted by henryaj to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Well, it's doesn't reflect what you expected. I can't say what the details of the your original negotiation were, so I can't say if it's wrong or not.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:33 AM on November 15, 2016

It does look like the wording effectively means that you can only move out 20 months after moving in.

A lot will hinge on the conversation you had with the landlord before you signed the contract. If you specifically stated an intention to move out after 18 months and the landlord confirmed that yes, that would be possible under the terms of the contract, then I would suggest that you talk to the landlord and ask them to get the lease amended to reflect that verbal agreement (they would just need to amend the date on which you can give notice).

If you simply misunderstood the wording of the contract and made an assumption based on that, then it's just something you'll have to deal with.
posted by pipeski at 7:37 AM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is there any chance that they've confused the American vs European convention for dates? As an American, that reads March 5th. As the 5th is often used here like for rent payments (rent is due by the 5th of the month or it's late), that'd be my guess.

Is there a way to call and check on that?
posted by cali59 at 7:47 AM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would read it as:
- You need to give 2 months notice
- The earliest you can give notice is 3/May/2017
- The "18 month break clause" means you can break the lease after 18 months, but "breaking" it involves giving 2 months notice, so you can't leave until July.

Do I have any recourse against this if not?
Highly unlikely, since you signed the contract, and you're on the hook for not reading it properly.
That said, you can always ask if you can leave in May not July, as you intended. They might be OK with it or be open to negotiating a lower fee than 2 months rent.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:02 AM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

It does look like you’ve tied yourself down to only giving notice at the beginning of May. Do you have any other written documentation, or was the agreement with the landlord purely verbal?

Personally, I would simply serve notice 2 months before the 18 month point and see if they notice. State in your notice letter that you’re giving the required two months notice for the 18 month break point as previously agreed.
posted by pharm at 9:50 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

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