Lease Break: When Is It Okay To Break A Lease in 2023?

There are many reasons why someone would want to break a lease early. Let’s look at how to break your lease early and a few reasons why you might need to do so.

March 28, 2023

Break A Lease

Break A Lease

As a renter, you may find yourself in a position where you may need to break your lease. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. At times, due to no fault of their own, some tenants seek an early termination of their lease agreement. A landlord may also seek to break a lease early if the tenant doesn’t abide by their lease terms.

Lease breaks are more common than you might think, but as a tenant, you might incur fines and, in some cases, be obligated to meet the lease terms in full depending on which state the property is located in.

Before you decide to break a lease early, there are a few things you must know:

You should thoroughly review and understand the specific terms of your lease agreement.

Depending on your lease terms, you may need to pay an early termination fee; it usually amounts to 1-2 months of rent.

You will need to provide your landlord with written notice.

This article will discuss when it is possible to break a lease early and what you need to do to minimize your obligations.

What Does a Lease Break Mean?

A lease is a formal written agreement to rent a property for a predetermined period, typically one year. The lease expires once the predetermined period, or its “term,” has passed. The agreement is broken if a tenant or property manager/owner terminates a fixed-term agreement before the end date. This is referred to as breaking a lease.

A tenancy agreement is a legally enforceable contract. If it is broken, compensation will most certainly be required. There are several potential scenarios and/or legal reasons to break a lease. Let’s see what they are.

Reasons for Breaking a Lease

There are many reasons for breaking a lease.

1. You’ve been offered a job in another city:

If you’ve been offered a job in another city, it is quite common to break a lease agreement.

2. You need to move in with a family member or friend:

Another common reason to break a lease agreement is if you plan to move in with a family member or a friend.

3. You’re in the military and have been called to active duty:

Active-duty military personnel are given some protections under the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). When they receive orders for a change of station, they are protected.

When a military member signs a lease and later receives orders requiring them to move for at least 90 days, they are entitled to cancel the lease by giving written notice to the landlord. Typically, this notice must be given at least 30 days before the planned termination date. Additionally, the renter must offer verification, such as a copy of the military orders for station change or deployment.

4. Your apartment is uninhabitable due to a lack of proper repair by the landlord:

Landlords are required by law to keep the property in habitable condition. Some of their obligations are:

  • Ensuring that tenants always have access to running water
  • Supplying appropriate trash containers
  • Maintaining cleanliness in the communal areas
  • Making repairs
  • Observing health and safety regulations

If the property is not maintained, the renter has the right to make a health or safety complaint. Due to habitability concerns, the renter may also give written notice of their plan to break a lease agreement.

Unless the health or safety violation is so grave that the renter must vacate immediately, the tenant has to wait a specific number of days after giving notice, depending on particular state legislation.

5. You’re a victim of domestic violence:

Many states have laws that protect victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence victims may be able to break a lease early without incurring fees. A violent incident must have occurred recently, usually within three to six months.

In this case, the tenant must:

  • Give written notice to the landlord of their intention to break a lease early due to domestic abuse.
  • Give this notification at least 30 days before the intended termination date (some states call for a longer notice period).
  • Pay rent up until the move-out date.

A landlord has the right to ask for documentation of a domestic abuse incident.

These are just a few reasons to break a lease agreement. Remember, breaking a lease should not be taken lightly. You need to be aware of financial and legal implications before deciding to terminate your lease.

What Happens When a Tenant Breaks a Lease Early Illegally?

A lease is a legally binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant. If a tenant violates this agreement for any reason other than the exceptions mentioned above, they risk legal repercussions.

For instance, the tenant could be sued for any rent owed until the apartment is re-rented along with other costs due to early termination. A potential lawsuit could also be filed for damages and breach of contract.

The tenant could then have an eviction recorded, which could harm their rental and credit history, which could harm their ability to rent in the future.

Therefore, ensure you carefully read the contract of your agreement and talk to the landlord before breaking a lease. If you find the lease terms too difficult to comprehend, we recommend you seek legal counsel.

If you find the penalties required for a lease break are too onerous, you can opt to sublease your apartment or have someone take over your lease with your landlord’s approval.

Summerfield Management is one of the leading property managers in the USA. We work hard to maintain good relations between the landlord and tenant. We always strive to find common ground when resolving any dispute, like breaking a lease.

Break A Lease: FAQs

Q: What happens if you break an apartment lease?

A: Typically, your landlord will impose penalties as per the terms of the lease agreement. Your credit rating could be negatively impacted if you don’t pay these penalties. Your landlord may send the debt to a collection company. This might lower your credit score for up to seven years, hurting your ability to borrow money and obtain credit.

Q: How can I legally break a lease?

A: You can legally break your lease agreement by abiding by the terms of your lease agreement or renegotiating the terms if your landlord is willing.

Q: How can I break my apartment lease without penalty?

A: Occasionally, a renter may be able to break the terms of the lease legally. The tenant has the right to legally terminate the rental agreement if the property is uninhabitable, or illegal in nature, the landlord is harassing them, the tenant is on active service in the military, or the tenant is a victim of domestic violence.