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I am renting a flat in the UK, on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy without a break clause. The property is managed by an estate agency.

I need to leave 7 months earlier than agreed. I gave notice to the agency and they replied that the landlord can only agree to end the tenancy if:

  • A new tenancy is agreed.
  • I pay the landlord's administration fees for the whole period.
  • I keep paying the rent and bills until a new tenant moves in.
  • The new tenant will rent the flat with the same agency.

This all sounds fair and legit, but my worry is that my pre-covid rent is very high for today's standards. Covid-19 has created a huge supply of free flats, and a shortage of potential tenants looking for a new flat. This has affected the rents, as I've seen several reports of rents going down in my area.

The flat is on the market for some weeks now, the ad has hundreds of views, but we only had 4 viewings, and two of them got cancelled. Checking the market for similar properties, our flat is not very appealing, as there are many other similar flats in the same building with better features, available for the same price. They are also managed by more reputable agencies, as our agency has pretty bad reviews on google.

Our landlord will not consider lowering the rent price to a more competitive level. They are much better getting an overpriced rent from us for the rest of our tenancy term. And I have no negotiating power, as the contract allows them to rip me off.

Also I am not that sure that the agency is doing their best to rent the flat. For all I know, they could be suggesting other flats that they manage to potential tenants.

Is there anything I could do to convince them to lower their rent, so that we could find a new tenant in a reasonable time?

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  • Is the new rent the same that you are paying now? Mar 3, 2021 at 21:22
  • Where in the UK is the flat? England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland? The devolved nations may have different rules covering this.
    – user35069
    Mar 3, 2021 at 22:26
  • the flat is in London. the new rent is the same as what we pay.
    – yannicuLar
    Mar 3, 2021 at 23:06
  • Out of curiosity (to give me an idea how big a risk these kind of contracts are), did you resolve this somewhat amicably? Did you end up paying the full amount?
    – Kvothe
    Oct 30, 2023 at 16:29
  • @Kvothe, It's been 2 years since I've posted this, so I don't quite remember all the details. We found a new tenant about 3 to 5 months later, so I had pay for that period. I've never had any replies from the landlord, and afaik I'm not even sure the agency actually ever got to forward any of my requests/offers to the landlord.
    – yannicuLar
    Nov 2, 2023 at 15:39

1 Answer 1

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Well, you can agree to pay the difference

Which is what you would legally be obliged to pay if you broke the contract anyway.

Look, but if you break the contract the landlord is entitled to damages that place them the same position as if you hadn’t. That’s 7 months rent at the amount you agreed.

If they or you can find an agreeable tenant at that (or a higher price) the landlord suffers no loss from the breach and you don’t owe anything. If they can’t find a tenant, you’re up for the lot. If they can find one at a lower rent, you’re up for the difference.

It’s unfortunate that your circumstances have changed but the landlord shouldn’t suffer for your misfortune.

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    I get your point, but in the same context, why did you mention 'it's unfortunate my circumstances have changed' and the 'landlord shouldn’t suffer for my misfortune'? It's not about what they should or shouldn't, or how unfortutate I am. The law allows them to exploit me, and that's what they'll do! Thanks for the advise on the solicitor
    – yannicuLar
    Mar 4, 2021 at 1:13
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    How did they exploit you? Did they put a gun to your head to make you sign the lease? Or did you freely and voluntarily agree to pay them rent for 12 months? They are entitled to the fulfillment of your promise.
    – Dale M
    Mar 4, 2021 at 1:26
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    @yannicuLar: I am very sympathetic to your situation, but you are in fact asking them to potentially take a considerable loss, with potentially years long consequences depending on the rental laws where you live. E.g. rent control, which is often based on former rent. As DaleM says, this is not "ripping you off". There is the (legal, most don't offer it) possibility of renting monthly, but that leaves you open to monthly rent hikes. You secured a constant rate for 12 months, but in exchange agreed to pay the whole term. The landlord is not under an obligation to release you from your contract.
    – sharur
    Mar 9, 2022 at 19:41
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    I'd replace "shouldn’t" with "legally doesn't have to". For myself, I think the moral side is with the OP. The UK seems to have unusually few protections for renters compared to other wealthy countries. There isn't really a choice for the renter whether they agree with these kind of conditions as almost all properties require these completely unreasonable terms that leave you in huge problems if you have to terminate early. In almost any other country either the right to sublet is guaranteed (meaning you can recoup losses yourself) or early termination is legally guaranteed.
    – Kvothe
    Oct 30, 2023 at 16:25
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    @DaleM, effectively I do think they are putting a metaphorical gun to renters heads. Every property requires these outrages contracts without break clause and often disallowing sublets. I have lived in many countries and the UK is the only one where renters are so much at the mercy of landlords. Usually either the right to sublet is guaranteed or the right to terminate early (say at 3 months notice). The choice really is to either sign such an outrageous contract or to be homeless.
    – Kvothe
    Oct 30, 2023 at 16:32

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