July 6, 2022


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Legal reasons to break an apartment lease?

4 min read

How to Break a Lease on Your Apartment | Rent.com Blog


A lease is an agreement between a tenant and a landlord. It legally binds each party to a transactional service. It is in place to protect both party’s interests, and it leaves no ground for exploitation from either side.A lease also spells out everything that a renter  could possibly want to know about his/her rights during their stay in the community. 


A lease has a time period period. In most cases, it is for a year. A tenant can extend it depending upon their needs. The tenant will be liable to pay the agreed amount – the rent – for the duration of the lease in return for the services from the landlord. After the lease term ends, the lease may then go on a month to month basis. Other communities may ask the renter to sign another apartment lease for another 6-12 months. 


There are times when you want to break your lease. There are a whole host of reasons why the tenant might want to terminate the term earlier . It could be as simple as the renter found a place with a better rent rate somewhere else.. In such cases, termination of the lease is what you will be looking for. But the question is whether breaking the lease makes you liable for a penalty.


And the answer is, in some cases, yes. Remember the lease protects both party’s interests, and you leaving in the middle of the agreement will incur losses for the landlord. A renter should make sure and read their apartment lease about early termination. 


However, there are situations when breaking the lease is legally correct. Be sure and check with your local laws in your state before you break your lease. 


Active Military Service


If you are in the armed forces, then you have the fundamental right to break off the lease. The state provides you with the right. You can send a letter or an email to the landlord a month prior informing him or her regarding your situation. This should be sufficient enough for you to exit your lease on good terms.  You do not have to worry about a penalty or fine


Victim of Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault, or Stalking


Another situation where you can break off your lease agreement is if you are a victim of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Again, check your local state laws before you terminate the lease. This may require you to file a policy report, etc. 


The other situation is if you are a victim of stalking. Things can take an ugly turn if you fear for your safety in your place. If your apartment home doesn’t provide you with security and feels unsafe, you can make a claim to break your apartment lease. 


Health Code Violations

Sometimes, the apartment or neighborhood you live in might be unsafe to live in. The landlord is required to fix/remediate certain issues in your unit. Maybe you can move to a different apartment in the same community?  If it persists or the landlord cannot correct it, you have full right to break off the lease.


Anything that violates the health code or renders the home unsafe for living, is enough for legally getting out of it. An example could be mold in your apartment or if the lock on the door malfunctions and the landlord refuses to make the repairs 


Look for an Early Termination Clause

It might be as simple as a clause in your lease contract. Your lease agreement might contain language that allows you to exit your apartment home in good terms as long as you pay the required fee. It might be 2 month’s rent. Some renters think this is steep. Remember that the landlord or apartment manager must re-rent your unit 


Harassment and Violation of privacy


You are under no obligation of the agreement if the landlord is harassing you or violating your privacy. Landlords might get snoopy and or make living in the community impossible. For example, cutting off your utilities or changing locks without your permission is an offense. Removing doors and windows are other reasons that are enough for you to file a complaint and get out of the lease.


The state protects the tenant under situations where relocation is a matter of safety and health. If you are active in military service, you can break the lease. If you are a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault or stalking, you can break the apartment agreement. If the living standards are not up to code, you have full right to get out of it. Lastly, if the landlord is violating your privacy and harassing you can make a claim to get out. 


Sometimes it is as easy as asking the apartment manager to let you out of the lease. If there aren’t any vacancies in the community, the manager might simply let you leave. Having a vacancy in the apartment complex can be a good thing. Leasing agents and managers want to be able to tell renters they have something available. 

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