Breaking A Lease In Washington D.C. Without Any Expenses

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How to Break a Lease in Washington D.C.

When it comes to signing a lease for a rental property in Washington D.C., it is expected that the tenant will reside in the property until the end of the lease. If a Washington, D.C. tenant wishes to end their lease, they have to give the following amounts of notice:

Rent PaymentNotice TimeStatute
Week-to-week7 daysD.C. Code § 42-3202
Month-to-month30 daysD.C. Code § 42-3202
Year-to-yearNo statuteD.C. Code § 42-3201

However, different circumstances can arise in which it could become necessary for a tenant to break a lease. What qualifies as an acceptable reason to break a lease, and what are the steps to take? Read on to learn about DoNotPay's guide for

Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities When Taking on a Lease in Washington D.C.

As mentioned earlier, tenants and landlords must adhere to a lease's terms when one is made. However, a written lease is not required in Washington D.C., but it is a good idea to agree to one to avoid confusion and disputes that may arise later on. If a lease or application is made, the following information is required to be in the agreement terms:

  • The amount of rent
  • Any security deposits
  • Application fees and interest on payments - if applicable
  • The dates of when the application or lease was signed and when the lease expires
  • Proper proof of rental property upkeep - such as mold prevention steps taken
  • Party responsible for utilities and repairs

Reasons That Justify Breaking a Lease in Washington D.C.

The following are the five reasons for which you can with possibly no penalty fee (depending on the circumstances):

Active Military Duty

A tenant that has enlisted in a military branch has the right to break a lease legally. There are three things that a tenant must provide to the landlord to break the lease penalty-free; they are as follows:

  1. A copy of their deployment letter
  2. Proof that they will stay in the military for at least 90 days or longer
  3. Proof that they enlisted in the military after signing a lease with the landlord

Domestic Violence

If a tenant was the victim of a domestic violence situation, the tenant has the right to move out without penalty. The tenant can give the landlord a 14-day notice as long as the notice is made within 90 days of the incident.

Early Termination Clause

Before signing a lease, a good idea is to agree with the landlord to include an early termination clause. This is to ensure that you will not have added fees (except what was agreed upon), and you will know how the process will go to terminate a lease early, if necessary.

Harassment by Landlord

If a tenant feels threatened or harassed by a landlord, they have the right to terminate their lease early. The following are several types of harassment that qualify for breaking a lease in Washington D.C.:

  • Changing locks without notice
  • Invading tenant privacy in contrast to the lease agreement
  • Turning off utilities
  • Removing features off the rental property - such as doors or windows

Uninhabitable Unit

When a landlord neglects or fails to keep their maintenance responsibilities as stated in the lease, a tenant can legally break the lease. Unless otherwise specified, a landlord must maintain the following five areas:

  1. Appropriate heat for the rental unit
  2. Running water
  3. Strong foundational building structure
  4. Ordinary wear and tear incidents
  5. Proper area for trash disposal

How to Break a Washington D.C. Lease

To break a lease in Washington D.C., you will need to make sure that you have an acceptable reason to ask for early termination of the lease. You must also speak to your landlord and have written documentation that you are officially breaking the lease. You have another option of either sending the notice or delivering the notice to your landlord directly. You may need to give the landlord a specific time frame that shows the day the landlord receives the notice to the day you move out. If you want to break a lease but don't have one of the reasons mentioned above, you may have to pay a penalty fee as well as any other costs if necessary. Not paying the fees could result in a negative effect on your credit.

Breaking a lease may seem difficult. A landlord may even try to make it harder for you to do so. What if there was a way in which you could send the appropriate notice in a stress-free and efficient way? That is where DoNotPay comes in!

Breaking a Lease With the Help of DoNotPay

DoNotPay offers the best solution when it comes to breaking a Washington D.C. lease, all in a fast, easy, and successful way! You can easily form the correct letter using DoNotPay's Break My Lease feature, and DoNotPay will send it to the appropriate destination. If you want to break your lease but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 3 easy steps:

  1. Search Break My Lease on DoNotPay.

  2. Prepare a signed copy of your lease that you can use as a reference and enter the state the lease was signed in.

  3. Let us guide you through the 4 potential options.

  • If you're a uniformed servicemember breaking a lease to fulfill your service obligations, we'll send your landlord an SCRA Protection Letter.
  • If you're breaking your lease for a reason protected by your state's tenant laws, we'll write your landlord a letter detailing your protections for breaking the lease under the relevant law.
  • If your reasons for breaking your lease aren't protected by federal or state law, but you'd like to try to convince your landlord to let you break the lease through mutual agreement, we'll draft a hardship letter making your case to your landlord.
  • If there are no remaining options for breaking the lease with protection, but your state requires landlords to mitigate damages to tenants who break their leases, we'll notify your landlord of that obligation and minimize the remaining rent you have to pay.

DoNotPay Works Across Multiple Areas

DoNotPay is the perfect solution when breaking your lease in Washington D.C. DoNotPay also offers help in a variety of other areas. To learn more, check out the following list below. Try DoNotPay today to see how it can help you easily break your lease.

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