Renting isn’t always blissful. Tenants may encounter unpleasant rental properties, such as uninhabitable units or harassment, that require them to terminate their lease early.
But how to break a lease legally, and is it possible? In certain situations, the answer is yes, and knowing the intricacies of how to get out of a lease legally will ensure you’re well-prepared. If you need to relocate or change living arrangements in the future, this article delves into the potential legal grounds tenants may have for breaking leases, potential penalties, and effects on rental history.
Disclaimer: This article provides general legal information regarding residential leases. For advice specific to your situation, consult with a qualified legal professional. The information presented here should not be construed as legal advice or a guarantee.
Finding oneself in a situation where breaking a lease becomes necessary can be challenging and overwhelming. Whether due to unforeseen circumstances or changing needs, tenants may seek ways to terminate their lease agreement. Here is an overview of potential legal reasons to break a lease.
When renting an apartment, tenants have the right to a habitable living environment that meets certain safety, cleanliness, and functionality standards. Unfortunately, there are instances where rented properties fail to meet these habitability standards, posing significant challenges for tenants.
If you find yourself in a situation where your apartment violates habitability standards, it may be possible to get out of an apartment lease early.
A violation of habitability standards refers to conditions within an apartment that make it unsafe or unsuitable for living. These violations can encompass a wide range of issues, including the following:
Experiencing habitability issues does not automatically authorize tenants to break their leases. Tenants should first notify the landlord or property management about the problems and allow them the opportunity to address the issues.
If the issues are not resolved within a reasonable timeframe, the tenant may be able to legally break their lease.
Instances of landlord harassment can create a hostile or uncomfortable living environment for tenants in rental properties. Landlord harassment refers to actions or behaviors by a landlord that are aimed at mistreating tenants and can include unwarranted intrusions, verbal abuse, withholding services, or engaging in retaliatory actions.
Some common forms of landlord harassment include:
To substantiate claims of landlord harassment, tenants should keep written records of incidents and, if possible, gather evidence such as photos. It is worth noting that landlords may present their own evidence to counter the claims.
If tenants need to terminate a lease due to landlord harassment, they may need legal intervention. This may involve filing a complaint with the appropriate court and presenting evidence to support the claim of harassment. If the court determines that harassment has occurred, the lease may be legally terminated.
Active-duty military members enjoy specific rights and protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to ensure their housing needs are met during their service. These protections include the ability to terminate a lease early or adjust rent in case of military-related reasons such as permanent change of station (PCS) orders or deployment.
Military members may be required to provide proof or documentation, such as official military orders, to invoke their rights under the SCRA.
In addition to lease termination and rent adjustments, the SCRA offers additional safeguards, such as protection against eviction for nonpayment of rent while on active duty. It is advisable for active-duty military members seeking to break their lease under the SCRA to seek legal advice from an attorney or a legal assistance office familiar with military and tenant law.
Many jurisdictions have enacted laws that offer specific protections for survivors of domestic violence. These laws typically allow survivors to terminate their lease early without facing penalties or the eviction process.
Such provisions aim to ensure that survivors have the freedom to seek safety and create distance from their abuser without being tied to a lease agreement that may pose a threat to their well-being.
Here are a few steps typically advised:
When a renter breaks a lease illegally, they terminate the lease agreement without following the proper procedures or meeting the contractual obligations. This can occur by abruptly moving out without providing notice.
Breaking a lease illegally can lead to legal action, financial penalties, and damage to the renter’s credit. The consequences vary but commonly include lawsuits, owed rent or fees, and negative impact on credit history.
When figuring out how to break a lease legally, tenants should know their rights and the legal reasons that may justify this termination. While each situation is unique, documenting violations, seeking legal advice, and understanding local regulations are all steps to consider. Remember to approach the process cautiously and consult a qualified professional.
Breaking a lease negatively affects rental history, making it harder to secure future rentals. It may result in limited options, higher deposits, or stricter requirements from landlords due to concerns about reliability.
To mitigate the negative impact of breaking a lease on rental history and improve future rental prospects, renters can:
The impact can vary but tends to diminish over time as a more positive rental track record is established.
When a renter breaks a rental lease, the penalties and consequences can vary depending on the lease agreement terms, local laws, and federal regulations. Here are some common penalties that renters may encounter: