How Do You Break a Lease?


Quick Answer

A lease agreement can be broken by giving a landlord early notice about moving out, agreeing to find another tenant for the property or moving out without advanced notice. Tenants are legally allowed to break a lease under certain conditions.

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Full Answer

In the eyes of the law, there are some valid legal reasons to break a lease, including serious health issues, active-duty military service or serious damage to the rental unit caused by natural weather conditions or criminal activity. Disagreements about how the landlord is caring for the property or treating tenants, might or might not fall under allowable legal justifications under state law. Situations that are usually not considered legal reasons for vacating a rental property early include moving due to a job transfer or divorcing. Check state law statutes under tenant rights for specific legal allowances for breaking a lease.

In many instances, breaking a lease triggers legal penalties that allow a landlord to sue a former tenant for any remaining rent owed under the rental contract. Penalties may be reduced or avoided by volunteering to help find a replacement tenant before leaving. Another tactic is to send the landlord a mitigation letter that explains why breaking the lease was necessary, and the landlord's responsibilities to re-rent under state law.

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