I was looking for an accommodation and found one. I have not signed any contract or deposited money yet. I just agree to take the place via email with the current tenant of the flat and planned to co-sign with him. Recently, I manage to find a better place. So, is it possible for me to back out from the first one?

PS: I'm living in the UK.

  • 2
    Agreeing to something by email is an agreement in principle but does not equate to signing a lease. If you are going to back out, do it quick so as to minimize inconvenience to the other parties involved.
    – karancan
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 23:36
  • 2
    Ethically, this may be shady territory, but legally you should be OK. I encourage you to think about what you'd want the other party to do had they been in your shoes. If you must cancel, try to minimize their loss as much as is reasonable.
    – Jared
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 19:06
  • Also, any eventual tenancy agreement will be with the landlord (or his/her letting agent), not with any other tenant. Either way, until a tenancy agreement is signed, you haven't committed yourself to anything, so you can freely withdraw (though as others have mentioned, letting the other tenant know quickly would be the courteous thing to do). Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 23:26

1 Answer 1


An email stating that you'll move in is quite a bit different from signing a full lease agreement.

Technically the email amounts to a legal agreement. However, as long as penalties for breaking the contract weren't part of the email conversation then you won't have any. The current tenant will really have no recourse with you.

  • +1. To clarify: "email amounts to a legal agreement". Is that true even if no money has changed hands? Also, the e-mail was to a potential joint tenant, not to the landlord, which is relevant as typically a tenancy agreement is between (a) the tenants and (b) the landlord, not between multiple tenants (sub-letting is typically not allowed). Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 23:34
  • 1
    A legal agreement requires consideration. That could be money being transferred or it could even just be that I agree to do (or not do) something and you agree to do (or not do) something. In this case, the tenant agreed to start paying the landlord a certain amount of money. The landlord agreed to let the tenant move in. The start date for the agreement is the date of move in. Money doesn't have to change hands for the agreement to be in force.
    – NotMe
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 17:14
  • In this case the joint tenant could sue the OP stating that they had set aside the room, and therefore lost income by this OPs decision to bail. However this would be mitigated quite a bit because the OP never took possession of a key and it sounds like the OP didn't waste a lot of time on it. A further mitigation is that the amount the joint tenant could potentially collect is negligible compared to the cost of pursuing this in court.
    – NotMe
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 17:16
  • Further, most real agreements have penalty clauses for backing out. If those don't exist then it's up to the courts to decide and they'll likely have to fall back to how much the room was being rented for, the time between move in and the OPs decision to back out, etc. In other words it would make zero financial sense for the joint tenant to bother with it.
    – NotMe
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 17:18

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