Alongside the fun of university life, there are some important adult responsibilities to take care of. Housing, in particular, can be quite complex and unexpected things can happen. Especially when there are legally-binding agreements involved. So for whatever reason, if you find you need to drop out of your accommodation early, we’ve compiled this handy guide for how to get out of a student accommodation contract. We’ll happily save you the time and stress of it.
Since many first-year student accommodation contracts only last a year, they don’t include an easy break clause. So, unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just packing your things and taking off.
However, it’s definitely not impossible to move out early if you find you need to:
1. Notify your university
The first step you’ll need to take is to contact your university’s accommodation service to let them know that you’ll be needing to leave your halls, and why. The uni themselves have the power to sort the situation out to (hopefully) work out the best for you. Additionally, by moving into university-owned halls of residence in the first place, you’ll have bound a contract between yourself and them.
Be open and honest. Ask them initially what they think is the best option that they can sort out for you – whether that’s moving you to another flat instead, allowing you to change your room or hall type or letting you leave altogether.
Some universities will offer a student advisor to help you out alongside this, especially if you’re stressed or anxious.
2. Let your flatmates know
We’d generally recommend letting your friends or flatmates know that you’re planning on moving out if possible. More out of courtesy than anything.
It’ll probably be quite confusing for them to just notice your room is completely empty one day, and you’ve disappeared without a trace.
Of course, this definitely depends on the particular situation and how friendly you are with the people you’re leaving. But we’d always suggest doing this after you’ve communicated with the uni if you’re going to.
After all, there’s no point in creating tension in your flat if (for any reason) it turns out you’re staying anyway! Read our guide on dealing with difficult flatmate conversations here.
3. Look for replacement flatmates
Since there are both written agreements and money involved, universities often will require someone to take over your room for you to leave. Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll be made to continue paying for your room when you’re not even using it.
Many UK universities have specific pages for this online or they’ll help you find a replacement if you contact them.
Otherwise, Facebook groups, Instagram, Snapchat, etc are your best bet. The more people you let know you’re looking for a replacement, the better your chances are. Social media will be a great tool here.
4. Get your deposit back
Once a moving-out date is decided, you should try and get the deposit that you paid to secure your room back.
Often, you’ll be required to sign a waiver to confirm that you received this refund and that you, therefore, have no claim to the deposit under any new tenancy agreements (and equally, no liability).
If you’ve managed to sort out a replacement, they will also need to sign an agreement stating that they’ve taken over your deposit and responsibilities.
Housing outside of the university
Most students in their second, third or fourth years will be living out of university-owned accommodation. The steps for these situations are very similar, but there are some unique things to note:
Instead of your university, you’ll need to communicate with your landlord instead. Make sure to hold your ground and stay confident.
In some exceptional circumstances, you can ask your landlord for a release on compassionate grounds. For example, they may take into account an issue with your own health or a family emergency that’s likely to affect your ability to live in the property or pay rent.
NOTE: Just no longer being able to pay your rent or that you don’t like your housemates anymore won’t be enough.
It’s polite to try and find a replacement that your housemates will get on with, as they’ll be the ones living with them once you’re gone. I’m sure the last thing you want is to leave on bad terms so be nice and try your best to keep the peace.
When it comes to bills, talk to your housemates to sort out an appropriate figure to complete your obligations for utilities. That is, if you’ve been paying for water and electricity bills. You can take readings and request a bill from the utility companies to help you tie up these loose ends. For more help, read our guide on how to split bills with your housemates here.
Some extra essential things to do before you physically leave any property are:
Remember to get everything in writing – refund of your deposit, a new contract involving your replacement, etc. You want to make sure you have proof, should there ever be a dispute.
Also, take photos of your room and the common areas to show the state of the accommodation when you moved out. If you can, try and get your landlord to visit the place on your last day to inspect it with you before you go.
So, hopefully, if you follow these steps, you’ll be able to peacefully make your way out of your student accommodation contract. Regardless of why you’re needing to leave, this should make it a smooth process, and free you from any obligations.
For more helpful information about student accommodation, make sure to check out 10 savvy ways to afford student accommodation and How many weeks do you have to pay for student accommodation?