Have you ever been offered a promotion or the job of your dreams in another state or city? Or maybe you graduated ahead of schedule? Maybe you experienced a life-changing event? Whatever the reason, you might find yourself at a point where you must terminate your lease early prior to the full term. As a tenant, before you break your lease early, you need to take several factors into consideration. First of all, keep in mind that you are bound to the contract terms because you signed a rental agreement with your landlord.
What happens if you break a lease early? In most cases, tenants initiate the early lease breaking either intentionally or unintentionally, so it’s important to remember that the lease will significantly affect your options, especially if it contains obligations for a scheduled period of time. However, there are specific scenarios that require consideration, and we’ll try to cover the most common ones. Here is what happens in different scenarios when a lease is broken early:
Lease Breaking with an Advanced Notice
In most cases, the tenant will seek to terminate the lease or tenancy agreement, because they must relocate. If you have been a tenant for some time and you graduated or need to relocate due to a job change, you should definitely wait to terminate the lease early instead of waiting for it to end.
It’s crucial for you to give advanced notice to provide the landlord with enough time to assist you and make the move as painless as possible for both of you and her. An advanced lease termination notice allows the property owner to cover himself financially by trying to find another tenant to fill the vacancy immediately after you move out. Besides, he will do this through the normal process of tenant screening. The primary goal of the landlord is to have a paying tenant in his rental unit for as long as possible, in order to eliminate vacancy expenses. If you break the lease early and the landlord cannot arrange for a new tenant to move in, you’ll most likely pay for the days in which the unit is empty.
Lease Breaking with Proper Notice
In most jurisdictions, you must give your landlord 30, 60, or 90 days notice before leaving the premises. That provides the landlord with enough time to find a new tenant. In some jurisdictions, even when you give thirty days in advance notice, you might still need to pay for rent, provided that your unit has not been occupied by another tenant. It’s important to know that a landlord cannot have another tenant move in and continue collecting rent from you!
Conditions Under Which You Can Break a Lease Early
Sometimes the law recognizes that the tenants have justifiable reasons to move out of the rental before the lease expires. Some of these reasons include:
Eviction due to Construction
The landlord’s failure to maintain a conducive and habitable housing may be a legitimate reason for leaving. The legal term to go due to such situations is “constructive eviction,” which means that when you rent an uninhabitable house, the owner has eviction for all practical purposes. If you think you have been constructively evicted, consider asking your local tenancy attorney before moving out – some states do not recognize constructive eviction or allow the tenant to terminate the lease in extreme or exceptional circumstances.
Violation of Peaceful (or quiet) Pleasure
If the property owner severely interferes with (or allows others to hinder) your ability to use and enjoy the rental, you may have reasonable grounds to terminate the lease. Quiet enjoyment right may include a wide range of property owner behaviors, like entering your apartment without adequately notifying you, allowing illegal activities on the premises or ignoring recurring complaints about other tenants’ (whose he can control) bad behavior. Again, if you think that your landlord has violated the right to use the rental safely before you move out, consider consulting your local landlord-tenant lawyer.
Active Military Duty
In almost all states, tenants who engage in active military service have the right to vacate before the end of the lease without penalty. Tenants who must terminate the contract due to active military service must notify the owner of their intention to leave with a copy of their orders. When the landlord receives a notification, the rental period for a month-to-month will expire 30 days after the day on which the rent will be due. In the case of a lease, the rental agreement ends on the last day of the month following the month in which the notification is delivered.
Several state laws mention other reasons that allow tenants to break a tenancy agreement, for example, due to a transfer of work or family health problems or due to domestic violence. If you have a valid reason for sudden traffic, check the landlord’s obligation in your state law to see if you are still on the hook for the remainder of your tenancy.
If you want to genuinely break a lease early, ensure you contact your landlord, give proper notice after reviewing your contract and meet the lease breaking conditions. You should prepare yourself thoroughly before notifying your landlord of your early lease breaking plan. Always seek legal counsel if you have any concerns about your constitutional rights regarding lease obligations.