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Hello, this is Jim and I am a dual-qualified lawyer (UK and Republic of Ireland) and happy to help you today.
First of all there is no question of prison - this is a civil matter and the worst case scenario is the landlord takes you to a civil court and gets a CCJ against you (county court judgment) which stays on your credit record for up to 6 years.
I do not see a defence to not paying the rent - mainly because landlords must ensure the property is in good repair under S.11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The thin walls is unlikely to trigger this law unless the noise was affecting neighbours to such an extent that the council serves a noise abatement order and a notice for the landlord to do works to the property (to ensure the noise is reduced).
If you do not pay the rent then the landlord has to serve a "section 8 notice" on you (section 8 under the above Act) requiring you to vacate the property due to breach of the tenancy. If you do not leave on the date specified then he will have to go to court to get an order for possession - which means court bailiffs evict you. He can also ask the court for an order for the rent arrears and the court fee. As such you could wait until he served you with the notice - the notice must give you at least 2 weeks to vacate the property so you could wait like I said before. Or you could sooner - the landlord would pursue you assuming they know your forwarding address.
I hope this helps – if you can please rate the answer by clicking the 5 stars (the top of your screen & then click “submit”), I can answer follow up Q&A's at no extra charge and I will be credited for helping you today.
Yes correct although they will need to know your forwarding address to be able to issue a county court claim for the 2 months' rent once you leave. He would sue for the last 2 months of the break clause (as this lets you leave the property early). You could ensure the bills are up to date and just pay them before you move out. Like I say he needs your forwarding address to sue in the small claims court - he wouldn't use a lawyer for this - it is easy to sue someone without a lawyer nowadays but like I say he needs to know your address to do this.
It's easy to defend a small claim. Also a lawyer wouldn't act on a no win no fee basis as they cant recover their costs - the court will send you a response pack to fill in which is easy. You can also come back to this site for ongoing help if needed.
Have a good evening.