Renters: Terminate a Lease Without Triggering Legal Issues
While leases are legally binding contracts, there are ways to terminate a lease while avoiding financial penalties or getting sued by your landlord. LegalShield is here to help you exercise your renter rights, so you break your lease in a way that avoids legal problems.
Avoid Financial Penalties When Breaking a Lease
Renters have significant rights under state and federal law and in some cases have valid reasons to terminate a rental agreement early. For example, if your landlord has breached a lease term or failed to provide a safe living environment, you may have a right to withhold rent or terminate your lease without penalty.
Terminating a lease without following the rules can land you in court and cause negative financial impact. A personal plan from LegalShield allows you to speak with an attorney about your specific situation, have them review your lease and provide valuable guidance based upon the laws in your state. Your attorney can even defend you in court should you be sued due to a lease termination dispute. All for as little as $24.95 per month.
The first step in successful lease termination is to read the lease. However, leases often contain legal terminology or language which is difficult to understand.
- Has your landlord failed to maintain the property or provide a safe living environment such that you can terminate without penalty?
- Does the document list reasons for which you’re allowed to break your lease?
- Are there any specific financial terms or penalties discussed?
- Be on the lookout for terms like “early release” or “sublet” to find all of your options.
- Take note of any language that dictates how much notice you need to give, as you’ll need to follow those rules.
Federal and state laws can make certain provisions of a lease illegal or unenforceable.
An attorney with experience in this area of law can help you decide on the best course of action. Rather than stress and guess, get a personal legal plan from LegalShield. You can be on the phone with a provider attorney within as little as 4 business hours of membership approval. You also will have 24/7 emergency access for covered legal emergencies.
While most landlord and tenant relationships are different, it’s generally a good idea to communicate your intention to terminate your lease sooner rather than later. While landlords may not be happy to hear the news, they typically appreciate the chance to minimize lost rent.
Prepare for this conversation by getting legal advice from an attorney experienced in this area of law. Attorneys can help you understand the terms of your lease and any applicable laws and recommend the best way to communicate with your landlord.
Our members get unlimited consultation with their attorney for as little as $24.95 a month. The attorney can write letters or call your landlord on your behalf for no additional fee.
Approaching your landlord with a solution, rather than handing them a problem, is a great way to terminate a lease early. If you have someone that can take your place, with minimal interruption to your landlord's cash flow, you’re in a much better position to negotiate a mutually agreeable termination.
- Some state laws actually require tenants to help find a new renter. Is that the case in your state?
- Does your lease allow you to sublet your rental property and have someone else fulfill the lease term?
- Can you find a new renter acceptable to your landlord to sign a new lease and then terminate your lease?
- What’s the best way to present a new renter to your landlord?
- What if they reject the person you find? Do you still have to pay penalties?
Whether legally required or not, it may be in your interest to help find the next renter and minimize any potential vacancy period. Have an attorney review your lease and advise you on your rights and obligations based upon the laws in your state.
Ending a lease can be confusing. We've created this free resource to help you ensure you understand and protect your rights when terminating a lease.
Many leases spell out the penalty for breaking a lease early. It’s common to have to pay two or three months rent and forfeit your security deposit. Remember to read your lease to better understand your options and the potential financial impact of each one.
In the right situation, having a lawyer call to negotiate or write a lease termination letter on your behalf can get even better results than handling the situation on your own.
With an early lease termination you may still be required to meet your lease conditions as to the cleanliness and maintenance of your unit, particularly if the landlord is showing the unit to possible renters. Be sure you properly document everything, including the final inspection. If possible, have your own witness there who could later testify to the condition of the premises when you vacate. It is important that you have evidence of the condition of the premises when moving out. A landlord may seek to hold you liable later or refuse to return all or part of a deposit based for alleged problems.
The information on this page, along with our lease checklist, may be all you need to successfully terminate your lease early.
However, if you’re confused by your lease terms or unaware of the rights you have under state and federal law, working with an attorney can make everything go much smoother. A LegalShield provider attorney can help you avoid extra financial penalties, lawsuits and unnecessary stress.