Can You Terminate A Lease Early?

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Whether the lease is for a year or longer, signing it is a serious commitment. It indicates that you're committing to making a fixed monthly rent payment and that you agree to abide by the contract's terms and conditions. But what if your situation changes and you have to vacate the apartment before the contract expires? Can you terminate a lease early? Yes, but it's not always obvious how to do it. What you should know is as follows.

The Lease Contains An Early Termination Clause

Some leases nowadays include specific terms that allow tenants to end the lease early by paying a reasonable penalty fee, usually equivalent to one month's rent. Check your lease agreement for this clause before attempting to terminate it.

You Have Been Deployed On Active Duty

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), service members who have been deployed can terminate their lease without obligations under the lease agreement. You'll need to provide your landlord with proof that the lease came into effect before entering active duty, prove that the deployment will last at least 90 days, and give your landlord written notice accompanied by the deployment letter.

The Unit Is Uninhabitable

Rental properties must meet certain habitable standards. If your landlord fails to maintain those standards, you may break the lease without further obligations. This situation would be considered "constructive eviction" by the court.

Your Landlord Is Harassing You

Landlord harassment is enough reason to terminate a lease. If your landlord repeatedly enters the property without giving you a 24-hour notice or changes the locks without your permission, they are violating the landlord-tenant laws and you may have grounds to terminate your lease.

Your Landlord Has Violated The Lease Agreement

If your landlord violates the terms of the lease or fails to follow its rules, you may be justified in ending the lease early.

You Are A Victim Of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence victims may break their lease early without further obligations by meeting certain conditions, such as obtaining a protection order.

Your Landlord Failed To Disclose Important Information

Landlords must disclose important information to tenants before signing a lease agreement, such as the presence of defective drywall or proximity to a military air installation. If they fail to do so, you may be able to terminate your lease early.

If you need to terminate your lease early, you have a few options:

  • Negotiate with Your Landlord: If you have a good relationship with your landlord and you're in good standing, you may be able to come to an agreement on early termination
  • Exercise Your Termination Clause: If your lease agreement includes a termination clause, you can exercise that clause to terminate the lease early. However, make sure to read the clause carefully to understand the conditions and penalties for early termination.
  • Sublet the Property: If your lease agreement allows for subletting, you can sublet the property to another tenant. However, make sure to get permission from your landlord before subletting the property.

Break the Lease: Breaking the lease is the last resort, as it may result in penalties such as losing your security deposit or being sued for damages. If you decide to break the lease, make sure to give your landlord proper notice and try to find a replacement tenant to avoid penalties.