When it comes to finding the perfect property to rent, sometimes it can take a few weeks till you find the most ideal rental property for your needs. Once you have found your perfect home and apartment it is time to sign the lease/rental agreement so that everything is in order and then you can move in. But what happens when something comes up in your life and you need to end your lease agreement early? This is a common question and we want to provide you with all the information on ending a lease within this article so that you are not caught in the dark if you find yourself in the situation where you have to end your lease agreement early.

A lease rental/rental agreement is a legal document that outlines everything that you agree to when it comes to your rental property and typically a lease is not meant to be terminated early. You absolutely can end your lease early, however it may come at the cost of a few penalties which we will discuss in this article. Let’s first go over some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this topic.

ending a lease

What Can A Landlord Do When A Tenant Moves Out Before Their Lease Expires

It is very important to know that legally a tenant may not end a lease before it has expired, unless there is a state law applied. When it comes to the state law, every state will have a different landlord-tenant regulations that state under what circumstances a tenant may end their lease/rental agreement early. As an example in some states a tenant may start the process of ending a lease if the home becomes unsafe or inhabitable to live in and the landlord has not taken any measures to rectify the situation. 

If the tenant has a good reason as to why they are ending a lease early then what the state requires the landlord to do is to re rent the property unit to another tenant to make up for the loss. The landlord needs to re rent the property to make up for the loss of income but only if the tenant is a qualified one that will actually be able to pay the monthly rent and not cause any damage to the property. 

If the tenant terminates their lease agreement early without a valid reason for the termination then the landlord has every right to sue the tenant for the loss of income according to state law. The landlord has every legal right to sue the tenant if the loss of income as a result of the early lease termination exceeds the amount of their security deposit. It is important to know that a landlord should only sue the tenant after they have rented out their property unit to another tenant. Doing it this way will allow the landlord to get a better idea of how much to sue the past tenant for. The landlord is allowed to sue the past tenant for the cost of finding a new tenant, the length of time that the property unit was vacant for and the difference in rent amount between them and the new tenant. 

How Much Notice Does A Tenant Need To Give In Order To Terminate A Month To Month Lease?

This will all depend on the state that a tenant is renting in, however in most states a tenant will have to provide the landlord with 30 days prior written notice before their month to month lease can be ended. Typically a tenant is allowed to give their termination notice on any day of the month. But in some lease agreements it will state that a tenant may only give their written lease termination notice on certain days of the month. In that situation the tenant will have to wait until that specific day to hand in their termination notice to the landlord.

Should You Hire A Lawyer To Help You With Ending A Lease Early

When it comes to rental laws things can get pretty complicated sometimes and when you as a tenant are put in situations where you absolutely need to end your lease/rental agreement early then oftentimes it is difficult to know what to do in these tough situations. One option that you have as a tenant to seek out information on ending a lease early is to head on over to Google and read articles like this one on the topic of ending a lease

However articles like this one, while they have good practical information. They do not serve as a source of legal guidance, so you may want to seek the help of a professional if you have absolutely no idea of how to proceed. While hiring a lawyer will add to your costs, it may be worth it in the long run to help you with ending your lease and streamlining the entire process so that you have the least amount of headaches and frustrations.

Now that we have covered some of the most frequently asked questions, let’s now dive straight into some of the reasons as to why a tenant would terminate their lease agreement early.

A Mutual Agreement To Ending A Lease Early

This will not be the case in every situation but sometimes if you have a very understanding landlord then you may be able to come to a mutual agreement when it comes to ending a lease early. A mutual agreement may be agreed upon for a number of reasons, some of these reasons include:

ending a lease
  • Avoid disputes between tenants
  • Avoid the court costs of the eviction process
  • Receive a fee that the tenant offers to pay
  • Avoid the cost of a Building Inspector if repairs are needed
  • Have access to the apartment to make repairs, or
  • Have access to the apartment so they can sell it

These are 6 of the most common reasons why a landlord and a tenant may mutually agree to ending a lease early. In our opinion the most common reason out of this list would be to avoid court cases. A court case can often be a long drawn out thing and most landlords and tenants do not want to go through with a court case, unless it is absolutely necessary. So for that reason they would just mutually agree to end the lease early to avoid the hassle of a court case.

Please note that when a landlord and a tenant mutually agree to terminate a lease early, the termination should be in writing and also that every single person that is included in the lease/rental agreement needs to agree to the termination as well. In some situations the landlord will ask for payment. The tenant legally does not have to pay any amount that exceeds the cost of operation of terminating the lease early. Things such as the cost to find a new tenant and the difference between the old tenants rent and the new tenants rent and any advertising costs that the landlord has incurred. 

Constructive Eviction Due To Any Health and Safety Concerns

Not every rental property will be perfect and the home/apartment may be in perfect living condition when the tenant moves in. Over time things can go wrong in the home due to a number of factors and these things that happen within the rental unit could pose significant health and safety concerns for the tenant that is living in the property.

As an example if the rental unit suddenly has toxic mold all over the place and this has been brought to the attention of the landlord. Legally the landlord is required to rectify the situation and get rid of all the toxic mold. The main problem comes in with the time frame that it would take to get rid of the mold. Sometimes it can take just a few days, but sometimes it can take a couple of weeks. Especially with everything that is going on in the world right now, most things are delayed and will take much longer than usual to get anything done.

Obviously a landlord cannot expect a tenant to live in a home that has toxic mold for a few weeks so in a situation like this then the tenant may decide that they would rather move out of the rental unit and terminate their lease early because the home is inhabitable. The other option that the tenant has is to find another place to live while the toxic mold is being removed. But let’s be honest this is a time consuming task of trying to find a new home at a moment’s notice that will not require them to sign a new lease for example if the tenant moves in with friends and family for those few weeks. This is usually not the option that tenants facing this problem opt for. It is much easier for them to terminate their lease early and then find a new home or apartment that is in perfect living condition.

How The Safe Housing Act Relates To Ending A Lease Early

The safe housing act is defined as A law that gives you or anyone in your household who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence (including dating violence, stalking, child abuse, and elder abuse) the right to:

  • End your lease (written or oral) early and leave the home. Tenants who properly use the law will not be responsible for rent due after they leave.
  • Change the locks to keep the abuser out of the home in an emergency. You can do this with a written or oral lease.

When a tenant suspects that they may be in danger from the above mentioned things they must write a written letter to the landlord stating this and under which law they would like to end their lease. 

When A Regular Lease Ends

Whether you are renting on a month to month basis or have a 1 year lease, it is important to know what the regular procedures are when your lease comes to an end. Keep in mind that a landlord is not obligated to renew your lease just because it has run its time. If you would like to renew your lease or terminate any lease agreements once your current lease is up then you need to communicate this to your landlord via a written letter stating that you would either like to renew your lease or to terminate it and find a new place to live.

The landlord has no legal obligation to renew the lease, unless:

  • The landlord is choosing not to renew for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
  • There is an automatic renewal clause in effect, and the landlord hasn’t given appropriate written notice to stop this. 


So whether you are renting on a month to month basis or have a fixed term lease/rental agreement. We think the information contained in this article will serve you greatly and help you make a better decision when it comes to ending a lease before it is supposed to end. 

We tried to cover all the most important key points within this article. But if for some reason you still have any questions or concerns then please feel free to get in touch with us here and we will be more than happy to help you and answer all of your questions. With many years of experience in the rental industry, we are more than qualified to assist you with anything that you might need. 

If you would like to set up a call or a meeting then head on over here and you can do that and feel free to browse the rest of our website where we have covered a handful of real estate topics that we think you will get great value out of. Providing you with a good service is our number 1 priority and we love to help you with all your rental needs.

Ending A Lease
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