When Can You Legally Break Your Lease?

When you have a lease on an apartment, you might find that its length is becoming a headache. Or maybe you wind up running into problems in your neighborhood, or you’ve reached a point of no return in your relationship with your landlord. Perhaps a new job offer has come up that means you need to move away now. However, breaking your lease is not easy. 

Most leases, if broken early, can become very expensive and problematic. So, when can you legally break your lease? When can you make sure you can “escape” without any penalties? Below, find some instances when you can legally break your lease.

When the property is not maintained 

A simple reason for breaking your lease is when the property is not in a safe or habitable condition. If you are living in an apartment without essentials like running water, electricity, and heat, you can contest your lease.

If you have any concerns about the property, check it against the health and safety regulations for where you live. If a landlord isn’t adhering to these regulations or working towards adherence, it can make breaking your lease much easier. If the landlord doesn’t act within a certain legally specified timeframe, you can move out and stop paying rent.

When rules of entry are broken

Just as you must agree to certain conditions in a lease, so must a landlord. Any landlord breaking the rules of entry can lead to you breaking your lease. A landlord is only allowed to enter your apartment to make repairs, inspect the apartment, or show the unit to new tenants if your lease is ending. Generally, the landlord needs express permission from you to make any of these reasons permissible.

If the landlord tries to enter your apartment for reasons not related to the above or makes numerous attempts to enter (or does actually enter) without proper notice, you can break your lease. Doing so, though, would likely require a court order.

When you are being harassed

Sadly, some landlords do not know where to stop in terms of boundaries. This can lead to feelings of harassment. If you believe your landlord is harassing you, then you should take regular stock and note of their behavior.

Once you have enough proof, you can take your landlord to court. You can then work toward breaking your lease ahead of time. Proof, though, will be needed to show that you are being harassed.

You are a victim of abuse

Similar to the above, anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse can utilize protections to escape. If an act of domestic violence has taken place in your apartment in the last three to six months, you could provide the landlord with notice to break the lease due to violence.

However, you must provide the notice at least 30 days prior to breaking the lease. The landlord can request proof of violence, which could come from a police report or a court order for protection. The proof required may vary by city or state.

The apartment is not legal for rent

If you ever find out that an apartment you are renting is not legally suitable for habitation, you can break your lease immediately. Some state laws ask you to prove this, and if you can provide proof, then you can both break the lease and demand compensation for the rent paid for the duration of your stay. In some cases, you might even be able to get more money from the landlord to help you find another accommodation.

While every property is different and every state has its own regulations, you can indeed legally break a lease. You just need to ensure that one of the scenarios listed above has taken place, and then, you can work towards breaking that lease. If you feel like you need any help, then you should reach out to a local housing agency, an estate agent who helped you land the property, or a legal professional. 

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