Most people have rented a house or an apartment at some point in their lives. While it is fairly straightforward to get into a rental lease, it can be much more stressful to get out of a rental lease before the official end-date.A lease of residential property is a contract between a landlord and a tenant. It is governed by state landlord and tenant law.
The law anticipates that both parties will honor their obligations or somehow compensate the other party if the contract is breached. Ending a lease before its term expires tends to be an exercise in acceptable loss for both the landlord and tenant.
Type of Lease
The ability of a landlord or tenant to end a lease depends on the type of lease. If the lease is a month-to-month lease, either the landlord or tenant can end it by giving notice to the other party. To protect tenants, many states regulate the process of ending a month-to-month lease by requiring that the notice be in writing and by setting a minimum number of days, usually 30, for notice. If the lease is in writing and for a fixed term, like one or two years, breaking the lease will have consequences for both parties and will usually require a trip to landlord and tenant court.
Lease Termination by Landlord
Tenants break leases all of the time. A tenant may have a new job opportunity that requires a move to a different state. Or perhaps a tenant is recently unemployed and needs to find a cheaper apartment. Whatever the circumstances, the only legal way for a tenant to end a lease is to have the landlord agree to an early termination.A landlord cannot force a tenant to live in a rented property for the remainder of a lease, but a landlord can sue the tenant in civil court for the remaining rent that is due under the lease. Just like any other creditor, a landlord can pursue collection of a court judgment for breaking a lease.
Many landlords protect themselves against a broken lease by requiring a security deposit. A security deposit is an advance payment made by the tenant to ensure that the tenant performs under the terms of the rental agreement. It is typically a sum equal to rent for one or two months.
A Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the early ending of a residential lease can be complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a lawyer who focuses on landlord/tenant matters.