How to get out of your Lease early

There are limited opportunities for a Tenant to get out of a lease without being in breach or suffering adverse consequences. Which options are available will depend on the provision in the lease, but below are the most common.

Assignment 

An assignment is the transfer of your Lease to someone else. It is common for a lease to allow assignment of the whole of the property only. That being said, occasionally you can assign part of a property as well. 

You will usually need to obtain the consent of your Landlord which will formally be given by way of a Licence to Assign. 

Landlords may also require you to enter into an Authorised Guarantee Agreement, which essentially makes you a guarantor of the new Tenant. In other words, although you will no longer be a direct party to the Lease, you will still have a tie to it until it expires or is further assigned. 

Subletting

Although this will not technically allow you to get out of your lease, it will allow you to put someone else in the property who will pay the rent. However, it’s important to note that you will still have ultimate responsibility for the rent and all obligations under the Lease. If the subtenant were to breach the lease you may be required to enforce their lease covenants.

The general requirements tend to largely mirror those of an assignment; you will need consent by way of a Licence to Sublet and will usually only be able to sublet the whole of the property.

The sublease will need to be very similar to the lease between you and your Landlord, especially where rent is concerned. The Landlord may have a say about the wording of the sublease. 

Break Clause

A lease may include a break clause which allows either the Tenant, or the Tenant and the Landlord, the opportunity to end the lease early, on a specific date. Advanced written notice must be given (usually at least six months before the given break date) and you must not be in breach of any of the terms of the Lease. Otherwise, the Landlord can refuse your request to exercise the break clause. 

Surrender of Lease

In limited circumstances it may be that if you have no opportunity to break the lease e.g. because the lease does not contain a break clause and you have been unable to assign the lease or sublet the premises that the Landlord may accept a surrender of the lease from you. This essentially operates by you transferring your lease back to the Landlord. Note, however, that a Landlord will generally only accept a surrender at a premium, and this could be a significant amount of money depending on factors such as the annual rent, any arrears outstanding, and the time it is likely to take the Landlord to find a new Tenant.