I am a US citizen residing on a UK work visa and due to a horrible work environment I have decided to resign. Due to the limitations of my visa I am only allowed to work for this specific company in the United Kingdom which means I'll have to return back to the United States.

I am attempting to close down my UK based accounts (lease, phone, internet, etc) but my main concern is my flat lease. If my leasing agency refuses to accept a "Surrender" on my lease agreement and holds me on the hook to pay the rest of my lease and I do not pay it..can they legally take me to court/collect the debt even though I'll reside in the United States? Is there any repercussions in the future..say 10 years down the road not being granted entry to the UK for example?

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    What does your rental agreement say about leaving before the agreed period has elapsed? Also, make sure that you're still under contract for your flat. It's not uncommon for contracts to end and transition into a statutory rolling tenancy, whereby one month's notice is required. Sep 2, 2019 at 4:23
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    @John Rolling tenancies seem much less common, these days. Letting agencies much prefer you to sign another six- or twelve-month contract precisely because it's harder to get out of those. On the other hand, there should still be terms relating to early termination. Sep 2, 2019 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


Questions about being barred from entry into the UK 10 years down the road need to be asked some number of years in the future. Current practice is that the Home Secretary does not bar entry because of an unpaid debt, instead you have to do something egregiously bad or antisocial. Given Brexit, future matters of immigration are not set in stone.

One consequence of walking away from a lease is that you are likely to be sued (in UK courts) for breach of contract, and the court may find that you owe the rest of the lease money. If that happens, you need to be concerned with whether the judgment can be enforced against you, even when you are in the US. The general answer is, yes, the landlord can petition the US courts to enforce a UK judgment against you. The specific details depend on the law of your state, but most states have a version of the Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act. In addition, the landlord could sue you in US courts (maybe not as convenient for him). There is no requirement that you have to be a US citizen to sue a US person, and a landlord can (would almost certainly) sue you via a US attorney who would represent him.

An alternative to fleeing your obligation and saying "Go ahead and sue me!" is to negotiate a termination of the lease. The landlord would have a duty to mitigate his losses, so if the remainder of the lease has a value of $2,000 a month for 8 months, the landlord can't just do nothing -- he has to try to rent the unit out, so perhaps his actual losses would be only $4,000. Suing a person is expensive especially when you you are dealing in trans-national disputes, so he may be willing to accept some figure in exchange for terminating the lease. Your (UK) lawyer will give you good advice on how to proceed, if you opt to not get sued.

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    It's also worth mentioning that unless his lessor a) Hates his guts or b) is owed big money (or c, both) there's very little chance they'll take him to court in the US. It's expensive and complicated.
    – Richard
    Sep 1, 2019 at 21:40
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    @alephzero - Sure, but a "leasing agency" is unlikely to prioritise trying to sue this guy in a foreign court, something that's insanely complicated and expensive. They stand to lose more than they gain even if they win.
    – Richard
    Sep 1, 2019 at 22:40
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    @Joe - "I got out of paying a small debt by fleeing the country and never returning" is hardly gonna result in them gaining s reputation for undue leniency
    – Richard
    Sep 2, 2019 at 6:11
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    Thanks for the answers and feedback my goal is to come to an agreement on terminating the lease. The last thing I want to do is to cut and run but in the event the leasing agency is super unreasonable and I financially have no way to make amends what consequences could potentially come of it.
    – Kevin
    Sep 2, 2019 at 7:28
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    @rackandboneman No; reneging on a contract that you originally entered into in good faith - even if you renege wilfully and with no good reason for doing so - is not fraud, since there's no deception involved. Maybe signing a contract that you have no intention of ever honouring could be fraud in some circumstances, but that's not what's happening in this scenario.
    – Mark Amery
    Sep 2, 2019 at 12:40

I know you have an accepted answer, but I came to think of if your lease was somehow depending on you living legally in the country?
If it does, then I believe the contract can/will be terminated when you do not have the job providing your legal stay in UK anymore.

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    I have to yet find a rental contract which depends on the renter being in the country legally during the whole lease. You can rent a flat even if you cannot work in a country and cannot be there the whole year - for example as your holiday destination.
    – Alexander
    Sep 3, 2019 at 7:27

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