Featured News 2016 Breaking a Residential Lease

Breaking a Residential Lease

When you sign a residential lease, it will last for a fixed amount of time, usually one year. Once the year is up, you must decide whether you will: sign a new lease with or without the same terms, move, stay but switch to a month-to-month contract, or face an eviction if you stay but the landlord wants you out.

What happens if you want to move out before your one-year lease expires? People find themselves needing to break a lease for all sorts of reasons, including:

  • They need to relocate for their job.
  • They marry someone in another state.
  • They want to move in with a new partner.
  • They need to take care of a sick relative.
  • They are in the military and they deploy.
  • Their landlord keeps violating their privacy.
  • The home is in deplorable condition.
  • They feel threatened by their neighbors.

If you're lucky and you have a nice landlord, he will let you leave on friendly terms. This response comes from landlords who are decent characters, or when the rental market is robust, or ironically, if your landlord considers you a pain and would be glad to say "goodbye" to you.

If You Move Out Early

Let's say that your landlord is against you breaking the lease and you move out anyway. While state laws vary, generally when someone breaks a lease they will lose one month's rent, even if their state's law requires landlords to take reasonable steps to re-rent the property.

But being asked to cough up the last six months of your lease is another story. If your landlord sends you a letter demanding payment for six months' rent, countering that with a polite letter citing your state's law may end it.

If your letter doesn't produce the desired result and you're sued for half a year's rent, you'll be headed for court. In that case, contact a real estate attorney for help!

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