An AST is a legally binding contract. Therefore, a tenant (as well as a landlord) is legally bound to the terms of the contract including the ‘terms/dates’ of the contract. However, a tenant can end a tenancy during a fixed term contract by either:
- giving notice in line with a break clause
- surrendering the tenancy (through a mutual agreement)
Surrendering a Tenancy
A tenant is liable for the entire contract (including rent) until the final day of the contract. If the tenant wishes to terminate the contract early this will need to be a request to the landlord (the other party of the contract).
The only way to end a fixed term tenancy is a mutual surrender which is a voluntary agreement between the landlord and tenant that the tenancy has come to an end.
Both parties have to agree to surrender the contract at a specific date and will also need to agree to the losses/costs involved to the other party when wanting to surrender the contract.
Most landlords will be okay with a tenant’s request to surrender a contract on the basis that the rent is still liable until a new tenant will be found and any of the landlord’s losses are covered (this could include a: clean, check in, fees, etc).
Depending on the tenancy term and when a tenant is surrendering their contract the tenant may also be liable for the cost of the landlords 'agent fees' for that tenancy. So this should also be taken into account when discussing the end of the tenancy early (as this is a financial loss caused to the landlord).