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How Can You Break Your Lease Without Penalty?

One of your biggest responsibilities as a tenant is always ensuring you pay your rent on time and fulfill all other terms of your lease agreement, especially when it comes to the lease length. However, some unforeseen circumstances may force you to break your lease early, forcing you to incur various fines and other legal actions. The main question now is: how can you break your lease without penalty? Unfortunately, the right answer to this question eludes many renters. Not knowing what happens when

you break a lease, who to report to, or the right procedure to follow can lead to even more mistakes down the road.


When Can a Tenant Break a Lease Without Penalty?

As impossible as it may sometimes seem, getting out of your lease early without consequences is quite possible. The lease will often outline all the processes and potential ramifications for terminating it before the agreed date. However, you will still find a myriad of reasons where you can terminate your lease without serious repercussions.

These may include:


Illegal Rental Unit Some landlords may illegally convert basements, garages, or other commercial structures into rental units to make some extra bucks each month.  Most states allow you to break your lease early if you don’t know of the illegality of the rental unit. You may also get back the full rental amount you paid or a portion of it in some situations.


Non-compliance With the Local Health and Safety Codes


The landlord's inability to maintain a habitable housing environment should be enough cause to vacate the premises without penalty. A rental unit that doesn't comply with your state's health and safety codes may lack one or more of the following:

Running water



Trash bins

Stable walls

Proper roofing

If your landlord fails to resolve any of the above issues, then you should be within your legal rights to terminate your lease without



Violation of the

Tenants Privacy



Unfortunately, not every tenant knows that their landlord must provide at least 24-hour notice before entering their property.

Moreover, the landlord should have a good reason for visiting your rental unit. The building may technically belong to them,

but your lease agreement entitles you to privacy. You can obtain a court order to start processing the early termination of your lease without penalty if your landlord continues to invade your privacy without prior notice or proper reason.


Military Service Renters who are also active-duty military can get out of their lease agreements and other legal obligations if they receive a last-minute call to relocate. All full-time active-duty military personnel are protected under the Service members Civil Relief Act. This act allows them to terminate their rental lease agreements without penalty when called upon to relocate or on a long-term mission.


Domestic Violence, Stalking, Harassment, or Sexual Assault


Another legal reason to break a lease is when you're a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual harassment. The

victim must also inform the landlord that they are facing a real threat of possible future violence on the premises. This must

be done in writing.


Possible Consequences for Early Termination of a Lease Agreement

A lease is a legal contract between the property owner and the tenant. And like most contracts, breaking them often comes with repercussions, especially if you don't have the legal justification for breaking your lease. Potential ramifications for breaking your rental lease early. A lawsuit, Lowered credit score, Difficulty finding a new rental unit, or Difficulty getting a loan.


Whenever possible, try negotiating with your landlord first before seeking alternative options to break your lease. Most landlords might understand your situation if it's justifiable and let you off the hook for terminating your lease early. But this isn't always a guarantee. Find a replacement tenant: If your lease allows for subleasing, you may be able to find a replacement tenant to take over your lease. However, be sure to get your landlord's approval before subleasing and make sure the new tenant meets the qualifications and requirements in the lease agreement. Negotiate a buyout: If you're unable to find a replacement tenant, you may be able to negotiate a buyout agreement with your landlord. This involves paying a fee to break

the lease early, which may be a percentage of the remaining rent or a set amount.

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