In most situations, before you move into a rental property, your landlord will ask you to sign a lease agreement. A rental lease is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant that states the tenant is allowed to live in the property for a limited period of time. The lease also includes rental terms, such as monthly rent, late fees and rules regarding pets.
A rental lease provides protection for both the landlord and renter, ensuring neither has their rights infringed. As part of the lease, you are agreeing to pay rent and live in the property for the agreed upon duration. So, what happens if you need to break the lease early? Read on to learn some potential drawbacks of ending your lease early.
Read and Understand Your Lease
Depending on your lease agreement, you may already know the consequences of canceling the lease early. Some landlords include cancellation stipulations, such as keeping your security deposit or charging a penalty to terminate the lease. Some of the strictest leases include a stipulation that you must pay for rent until you or the landlord finds another renter to take over the property.
These stipulations may seem unfair, but it helps protect the landlord. It takes landlords time and preparation to get their property ready to rent. If they are expecting you to stay for a year but you end up leaving after a few months, they not only lose their source of income, but they are on the line for finding a new tenant, which is often a lengthy process that involves interviewing candidates.
Ending a Lease Early without Penalties
While the penalties may be harsh for ending a lease, there are methods to end your lease without triggering a penalty. If you are considering ending your lease, the first step is to talk with your landlord. The reason landlords include cancellation penalties is to protect their interests; they usually aren’t trying to keep you prisoner. If you express you want to leave and are willing to work with your landlord to make the process go smoothly for both parties, he or she may be more likely to work with you.
Landlords might be more understanding if they know your reasoning. If you end the lease without warning, your landlord may feel you are disrespectful and do not care about them. However, if you explain you are moving because of a job or you are struggling financially, he or she might work around your needs.
Legal Reasons to Terminate a Rental Lease
In addition to negotiating a peaceful lease cancellation, you may be able to end your lease early for legal reasons. It is important to note, not all states have the same rules regarding rental agreements. Even if you are violating your lease for legal reasons, you may have to argue the case before a court if your landlord challenges your claim.
In the majority of cases, you might be allowed to violate your lease if the rental unit is unsafe or is in violation of health and safety laws. Before moving out, make sure you document the violations so you can prove it in court. This also prevents the landlord from fixing the issue and claiming it was not there when you rented the property.
In some states, you are allowed to terminate a lease early if you join the military and must leave for deployment or training. Many states also provide early termination if you are leaving because you were a victim of domestic violence and need to get away from your abuser.