This will depend on your circumstances, if you have a joint tenancy agreement, as most students in private-rented accommodation do, if one of your housemates doesn’t pay their rent, you have “joint and several liability” for the rent. This means that that you and your housemates are liable for all the rent due - so you could be asked to pay it (as could guarantors).
- If you live alone, or everyone on the tenancy agreement wants to leave
If you have signed a contract for a fixed period (for example, 6 months, 12 months, or 24 months), and you are still in that fixed period, check if your contract has something called a ‘break clause’. In order to locate the break clause, it is advisable to read every part of your contract to look for it. You can only use a break clause if every tenant on the agreement wants to move out.
If your contract has a ‘break clause’ this may mean that you can terminate your contract after a certain date, before the end of the fixed term, providing you give the required notice. You may have to pay rent until the required notice period has ended.
If your contract does not have a ‘break clause’ or the break clause cannot yet be exercised, you will not have any automatic right to end your contract. You can try to negotiate the early end of a contract with your landlord. Your landlord may be sympathetic to your request to leave if they understand your reasons. For example, if you need to move urgently because you or a family member are sick or need support. If your landlord agrees to this you should ensure that your landlord confirms this in writing. However, if the landlord will not release you from the contract, they could still ask you or your guarantor for the money, even if you have moved out. At present there have not yet been any changes to the law regarding ending tenancies in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and unless your landlord agrees to a change your obligation to pay rent will not change.
- If you want to leave but other tenants are staying in the property
If other tenants are staying on, it is unlikely you will able to leave without continuing to pay rent unless you find a replacement tenahnt. You should discuss your wish to end the tenancy with the other tenants and the landlord. If the landlord is happy to let you go and will not require your rent to be paid in your absence, then you will not be required to pay rent. However, if the landlord will not release you from the contract without a replacement, they could still ask you, your housemates or your guarantor for the money, even if you have moved out. You can see here information on what to do if you find a new tenant.