How does my break clause work?
August 21, 2021 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the UK, and I have a 12 month tenancy which I would like to end after 6 months because I'm buying my own flat. My AST has a 6 month break clause, but the contract doesn't specify anything about the clause.

The term is listed as "a minimum term of 12 months with a 6 month break clause", but there is no information about how to activate the clause or what kind of notice I have to give. Is there some kind of default break clause that applies in this situation? Am I free to leave after 6 months, if I give one month's notice?
posted by Chenko to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Shelter's page on break clauses covers most of this, but doesn't say what happens if there's no notice period specified. My read on it would be that you could activate the clause at any time after 6 months and essentially just walk out, but your landlord may (and probably will) disagree.

(IANAL, I am just a random from the internet, etc.)
posted by parm at 10:39 AM on August 21, 2021

Best answer: It depends on where you are in the UK, but generally 30 days written notice is standard everywhere I’ve rented after the initial lease period has lapsed. However, to be enforceable (i.e. if your landlord wanted two months instead of one), a notice period has to be specified.

If they’ve just said ‘12 months AST with 6 month break clause’, I think you will be fine giving 1 month notice in writing (or email) after that first six months has passed. I wouldn’t give less than thirty days notice unless you want to really annoy your landlord. This gives them time to arrange viewings, agree move out dates etc.

You might want to make reference to the fact that there’s no notice term specified in your email, to avoid any back and forth. Something like:

As no minimum notice term is defined in my tenancy agreement after the six month break clause, I am giving thirty days notice as is usual.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:32 PM on August 21, 2021

Best answer: When I rented in the UK, the one time I activated a break clause, I gave 30 days' notice. If you like your landlords and want to do them a favour, you can give up to 2 months' notice; this will give them extra time to find a new tenant and budget for potential unoccupied months.

If there's any bad blood, be extra assiduous in your final cleaning and leave them no reason to keep your deposit.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:01 PM on August 21, 2021

This really does depend where you are in the UK, for example in Scotland there’s no such thing as a fixed term private rental contract so you could just give notice and leave. Be worth you updating with your location (at least which country), and/or if you want really good advice, consulting Shelter or CAB for the relevant country.
posted by penguin pie at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2021

Response by poster: I'm in Surrey
posted by Chenko at 3:47 PM on August 21, 2021

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