Can I get out of my accommodation contract?
This is the most frequently asked question we get in the Advice Centre.
In short, it is very unlikely.
Tenancy agreements are legally binding contracts. Your landlord provides the accommodation and you pay the rent. If one side reneges on their side of the deal, the other side can take legal action to enforce it but it does not mean the contract is invalid.
So before you sign up for a new housing contract, you need to think very carefully about what you want and what you expect because having a difficult home situation is not conducive to a good experience whilst you are studying.
Firstly, you need to think about the location of the property. Is it next to a train line so you will be disturbed by trains? Is it near a bar or nightclub which will attract noisy clients and disturb you when you are trying to sleep? Do you need parking for a car – is the property eligible for a parking permit or have free parking nearby? Will you need to use public transport to get to lectures, in which case have you included the cost in your budget?
Secondly, do you know who you will be living with or are you able to tolerate the behaviour of people you don’t know? Remember, to a certain extent, everyone has equal rights to behave in the manner of their choosing even if it is different from your own and what you might expect. Quarrels with housemates can really damage your mental health and disrupt your study plans. It is unlikely that your landlord will be able to intervene – remember the landlord has a contract with each individual which is legally enforceable and they simply cannot just ask a tenant to leave. If the behaviour becomes sufficiently serious, you should contact the police – ring 999 if there is a threat to life, or ring 101 if the situation is less threatening. If the behaviour becomes so intolerable and you have tried to resolve the situation yourself, you could consider using the University’s Code of Conduct.
Thirdly, can you afford the rent? When you decide on a property and receive the contract to sign, make sure you understand the terms you are signing up to. Check when rent is due and for what period – what are the penalties if you don’t pay the rent on time? Check out our Housing Checklist for more information on finding a property.