A lease protects property owners and tenants through the means of outlining the responsibilities, expectations, obligations, and time expectations of each. It’s an agreement that is legally binding, so breaking a lease may be difficult, it isn’t impossible.
Can a Lease Be Broken?
While a lease is a legally binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant, there are some instances where breaking a lease may be possible. In these situations, yes, it is legal to break a lease. As a property manager, it’s important to know the situations when a lease may be broken and the processes commonly associated with the task.
“If it appreciates, buy it. If it depreciates, lease it…” – J. Paul Getty
Legal Methods for Breaking a Lease
In most instances, a lease is broken by the tenant.
While many property managers believe that this is not legal, it is.
The following outlines the circumstances where your tenant may opt out of the legally binding agreement that they made with you upon taking up residency in your structure:
- If the tenant is able to justify or prove that the property is considered to be unsafe or unlivable, they may legally break their lease. In some instances, you may be required to pay any legal fees associated with establishing the safety of the structure. If it is found to be unsafe and not appropriate to live in, you may even find yourself responsible for paying the moving expenses incurred by your tenants.
- Tenants who are members of the military may be able to legally break a lease. If they have received orders to relocate – for one reason or another – from the government, for a period expected to last at least 90 days, they are entitled to legally break a lease through the Civil Relief Act. To comply with this act, they must provide a copy of their orders or a direct letter from an immediate commanding officer. Additionally, they must provide you with a 30-day notice.
- If an individual has been subjected to domestic violence, they may legally break their lease in order to protect themselves. The victim will need to submit a copy of the legal documents surrounding the event, as well as a written notice of their intent to vacate the property and/or break the lease. In many instances, these victims may be able to break their lease without suffering from any type of penalty.
- Renters that choose to break a lease may do so without reason; however, they may need to cover any financial consequences as outlined in your initial agreement. In most instances, these tenants are only required to provide a written 30-day notice.
How Do I Get Help When a Tenant Breaks a Lease?
In many circumstances, you may find yourself taken off guard when a tenant is breaking a lease agreement. In these instances, it is best that you enlist the assistance of a property management company. The professionals that work in these companies will help you compose lease agreements that cover you in the event that a lease is broken.