Reasons to Break Your Lease and How to Do It

Blog posted On July 22, 2020

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One of the reasons people choose to rent instead of buy is because it gives them greater flexibility if they are new to an area or only plan to stay there temporarily.  In any legal rental arrangement, you will have to sign a lease agreement with your landlord, and there are times when you may need to break the lease.  When the time comes to break a lease it’s important to talk to your landlord first.  Many leases have clauses or instructions already outlined if there comes a need to break your lease.

Common Reasons to Break a Lease

  • The rental unit becomes uninhabitable. As a tenant you are entitled to live in a safe and well-maintained property that meets health and safety codes.  If the condition of your rental home deteriorates over time and your landlord does not fix anything, you can use this as a reason to end your lease.  Some issues that may make the home inhabitable include black mold, plumbing problems, or structural concerns.  Address these issues with your landlord first and if they are unwilling or unable to fix it, you can ask to break your lease.
  • The landlord enters the rental unit illegally. Depending on local laws and ordinances, your landlord may need to provide verbal or even written notice before entering your home for any reason including maintenance or inspections.  If you feel your right to privacy has been violated by your landlord entering your home without notice, you can use this as a reason to request to break your lease.
  • You have to move because of active military duty. If you or your spouse is active duty military, you have a right to break your lease because you are deployed or required to relocate to another base. 
  • You can no longer pay the rental payment. If you are experiencing financial hardship and can no longer afford your rental payment, talk to your landlord right away, especially if it is related to wage or job loss due to the pandemic.  You may be able to work out a payment plan or they could let you break the lease so they can replace you with another tenant.

Breaking your lease early may come with an added cost, but it’s not impossible.  Renters choose to rent because of the added flexibility.  If you need to move before the end of your contract, familiarize yourself with your lease, find out what any payment penalties are, and discuss everything with your landlord as soon as possible.

Many renters may be interested in buying a home because of today’s exceptionally low mortgage rates.  If you’re interested in buying a home and you are currently renting, make sure to review your lease and find out what you will need to do to get out of your lease and factor those costs into your home buying budget. 


Sources: MarketWatch