Some people have to break their rental lease agreements due to circumstances beyond their control. Others have valid and not-so-valid reasons to end their rental agreements early. As a lessee, you could be held financially liable for breaking your rental contract.
Read on to learn about a few of the reasons you might be allowed to break a lease early — and still get your final month of rent and security deposit back.
1. Protections for Certain Renters
Under certain circumstances, renters can quit their rental agreement early without being punished. States have rental laws that protect specific subgroups of the population from the negative consequences of ending a contract ahead of its expected conclusion. Ask yourself these question to establish whether or not you are a part of this subset of individuals:
Breaking a Lease Due to Domestic Abuse
A number of states have tenant laws that protect victims of domestic violence. You can break a rental contract early, without incurring any penalties, to escape a dangerous living environment. The abusive incident must have taken place within 3 – 6 months of writing your request for dissolution of your rental agreement.
You should send the letter of intent 30 – 60 days before the date you plan to move. Time requirements between the letter of intent and the expected contract termination depend upon your state’s legal requirements.
Lessors may ask tenants for proof of their claim. An incident report from the police or a valid order of protection counts as evidence of domestic abuse. With the burden of proof met, the tenant only has to pay rent up until their new termination date
Leasing Exceptions for Service Members
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects active reassigned military personnel from being penalized for getting out of a lease early. SCRA requires that a military officer’s new deployment last longer than 90 days.
As a tenant, a service member has the responsibility to notify their landlord of their new assignment and their desire to break their rental lease. The law requires military participants to provide their landlord with proof of their new orders. This can be in the form of their change or station order or military deployment papers.
2. Is Your Apartment a Legal Rental Unit?
Renting out an apartment not zoned for this use is illegal. Any lease signed with the landlord of an illegal rental unit is invalid. Lessees of illegal apartments may receive partial reimbursement of the money they paid to the lessor. In some instances, the law provides former tenants with extra funds to find a new residence.
3. Is Your Apartment Inhabitable?
Your landlord must maintain the living conditions of your apartment and furnish clean water access. They must also provide needed repairs and bins to throw out rubbish. In addition, a landlord needs to adhere to designated health and safety codes Any of the above violations may allow you to break your lease.
Before you break your lease it is crucial to report any safety or health breaches to the proper authorities. When you report your concerns to a safety or health organization they will send an inspector out to validate your claims. If the inspector confirms the violation the lessor will receive a violation notice. The landlord has a set amount of days to rectify the situation.
Failure to correct any dangerous or unhealthy situation gives the tenant just cause to terminate a rental agreement early.
4. Is Your Landlord Violating Your Privacy?
Your landlord can legally enter your apartment to examine its condition, make required repairs, and to present the abode to potential renters provided that they give you 24 hours’ notice beforehand. Entering your home for illegal reasons, to harass you, or without notification violates your rights.
A court order can put an end to the lessor’s inappropriate behavior. Getting a court order is necessary if you wish to break your lease. If your lessor violates the order in place you do not have to continue with the lease.
How to Get Out of a Lease Early
If you do not have a monthly contract you are bound to the time period set forth in your rental lease agreement. Unless you are in one of the above subgroups there may not be anything you can legally do to avoid the financial consequences of upending your rental agreement; however, some options exist that may help you circumvent undesirable ramifications.
Some consequences of breaking your rental contract include facing debt collectors, being sued, and losing your security deposit. Unless you are independently wealthy you will want to conserve your resources. Operating in good faith with your landlord could help you avert a gloomy outcome.
1. Knowledge Is Power
Grab your rental agreement. Look for included sections on how to break a lease early. To end your contract the lessor may only need the terminate lease letter. The lessor may want to avoid long drawn-out litigation and take the situation in stride. The lessor might be more inclined to accept your early contract withdrawal if there is not much time left in the life cycle of the contract.
Most agreements demand stricter terms. Finding workarounds may become necessary. A subsection about subletting could give you an additional avenue to explore when getting out of a lease.
2. Speak to Your Landlord
Be honest about your situation with your landlord. Give the lessor as much advance notice as possible. Explain why you require a termination of the lease agreement. You might be able to come to a suitable arrangement with your landlord. There may be things you can do to facilitate an early exit from the lease.
3. Consider Referring Renters
Your landlord may return your security deposit in exchange for you finding a suitable renter. Your landlord may be more accommodating if your leaving does not impact their financial security.
Finding a new applicant is not always easy. Lessors scrutinize potential renters. They have to undergo security and financial investigations.
4. Sublet as an Alternative to Moving Out
If your landlord will not let you out of your rental agreement you can always sublet the apartment. That way the landlord gets his rental income while you are not stuck paying penalties for an apartment you no longer need. if you sublet your apartment you are responsible for any damage the subletter’s actions produce.
5. Get Everything in Writing
If your landlord agrees to the termination of the lease agreement, get everything in writing. Maintain copies of your early termination of lease letter. Notarized agreements and discussions can keep communication between both parties on track. Setting up clear expectations can make terminating a lease easier for both the landlord and the tenant.