Breaking Your Lease After A Burglary
Breaking a lease is an extreme measure. However, when unforeseen circumstances like a burglary come up, you may want to know if you can break your lease after a burglary. Dealing with a break-in is already a lot of stress, so you won’t want the added trouble of violating your lease.
One of the most important tenets in the landlord/tenant agreement is renter safety. With that gone, what happens if you break your lease? DoNotPay will walk you through the rules for breaking a lease after a burglary and introduce an easier way to break your lease.
Your Tenant Rights and Responsibilities When Signing a Lease
The outline of many rights and protocols is in the lease. Others are understood based on the landlord-renter relationship, and the law pretty much governs every facet of the agreement.
Not following lease terms is a breach of contract. In that case, a landlord could sue to collect damages.
What's Expected of a Renter
Examples of common lease terms include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Length of lease
- Rent amount
- Rules for security deposit
- Procedures for paying rent
- Terms for rent non- or late payment
Other tenant expectations include:
- Adhering to housing and building codes
- Keeping the dwelling sanitary and safe
- Garbage disposal
- Maintaining plumbing fixtures in the (hopefully) good condition in which the landlord delivers them
- Managing appliances that come with the unit
- Taking responsibility for damage you caused
- Respecting neighbors' peace and quiet
Justify Breaking a Lease
While the rules vary depending on locale, here's a look at the legal reasons for breaking a lease.
- A member of the armed forces—even if you join after signing the lease—can end their tenancy with written notice.
- Victims of domestic violence with a court order can choose to leave a rental. However, this may not be a requirement in all regions.
- If you're feeling harassed or violated by the landlord, some statutes let you walk out.
- A renter unable to live independently can terminate. But they must move to a nursing home or some form of assisted living.
- The landlord isn't maintaining an inhabitable space.
How to Break a Lease Because of Burglary
While many states let you break your lease for reasons like harassment or domestic violence, burglary is not as commonly considered an acceptable and legal reason to break your lease. If you can legally break a lease after burglary depends on the details of the robbery: how the burglar entered, the severity of damages, and how the state you live in requires you to deal with the situation.
Here is what you can do on your own if your rental was broken into:
- If you can prove the crime was the result of landlord negligence, you have a strong case. Perhaps the front door had a faulty lock or there was a broken window.
- Look at your lease to see if there is a clause about ending your lease early. It may allow it or add a stipulation, like paying one more month of rent. If not, try negotiating with your landlord. They may be sympathetic to the situation. Get any agreement in writing.
- Your region may not allow a broken lease without consequences, regardless of the burglary. If you want to stay in your rental or feel like you have to, you can ask your landlord to make the building more secure.
- If you do decide to break your lease and leave, put your reasoning and evidence for the break-in in writing. Your landlord may sue you for breaking the lease. In this case, you may need to hire a premises liability lawyer.
What if I Move Out Without Telling My Landlord?
Your lease is binding. Like any contract, breaking it could lead to an unpleasant legal situation. You see, regardless of why you left, the law expects you to follow procedure. Fail to do so and you're in judgment.
The law calls the act of leaving without notice "abandonment." The landlord has the right to retrieve their losses. They could:
- Take you to court
- Sue you for any rent owed or damages (even those resulting from the crime)
- File for eviction and make it difficult to find a new place
- Hurt your credit score via judgments and legal eviction
Some Reasons That Cannot Be Used to Break a Lease
The most common reasons why you can't break a lease include:
- Buying a house.
- Finding a new place to live.
- Wanting to move in with someone else.
- Getting a new job or planning to go to school.
How to Break a Lease by Yourself
In general, a burglary is not legal grounds for breaking a lease. An exception is you proving, if not for landlord negligence, the burglary couldn't have happened.
Take a look at your lease. Find terms like "early release," "sublet," or "sublease." See if there's a reference to "advanced notice to vacate early" or the "landlord or renter finding a replacement tenant." The lease may mention forfeiture of your deposit or early termination fees.
Talk to your landlord. If you reach an agreement, get it in writing with both your signatures. The agreement may include financial restitution, or you may need to try to get a new tenant to relieve the burden the landlord might feel over an empty unit.
Next Steps for Breaking a Lease After Burglary if You Can't Do It Yourself
Even the easiest route, which is getting an agreement with your landlord, requires a ton of work and patience. Worst case scenario is going before a judge and spending cash you don't have, beyond the costs of breaking your lease, and you may still lose.
If you've done everything right to get out after a burglary and gotten nowhere, here are a few tips for the next move.
- Talk with a tenants' rights attorney
- Reach out to a local housing authority
- Speak with a realtor to find a replacement renter
- Sue the landlord
- Get the help of DoNotPay
Break Your Lease Now With the Help of DoNotPay
Breaking your lease after a burglary is not an easy process if you do it yourself. Turn to DoNotPay instead for legal assistance.
Here's how DoNotPay can help break a lease in three easy steps:
- Search Break My Lease on DoNotPay.
- Prepare a signed copy of your lease that you can use as a reference, and enter the state the lease was signed in.
- Let us guide you through the 4 potential options.
Here's what DoNotPay can do based on the circumstances.
- 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 protection 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.
Why Use DoNotPay to Break Your Lease After a Burglary
DoNotPay tackles bureaucracy, fights corporations, and files complaints and court papers. If you want out after someone burglarizes your rental, we'll help you get justice. Our system is fast, easy, and successful.
DoNotPay Helps Everyone With Renters' Rights
A church is fighting an eviction. A small business needs to curtail a rent increase. A tenant wants to end landlord sexual harassment. DoNotPay can help.
We can also help with breaking your lease in all 50 states. Here is more information about renters’ rights in each state:
What Else Does DoNotPay Solve?
A better question is “what doesn't DoNotPay do?” Here are just a few more ways we can help you quickly solve problems: