Can My Landlord Keep the Security Deposit if I Break the Lease?
With every rental agreement, you have a lease to protect both you and your landlord. The problem is, what looks good when you sign it, may not meet your needs later. What do you do if you need to be out of your lease and can a landlord keep a security deposit for breaking the lease?
If you are in a situation where your rental property no longer meets your needs, there may be things you can do to avoid extra fees and penalties. DoNotPay can help you.
What Happens if You Break a Lease or Move Out Early?
Every lease agreement is different. They provide the tenant with a set of rules for living in an apartment or room and a guideline for what the property owner or landlord is responsible for in the agreement. For instance, the rental agreement will often state clearly:
- The amount of your rent, late payments, and grace periods
- The things your landlord will repair
- The rules regarding house guests or new residents (if not immediate family)
- How long the lease will last and what happens if you or the landlord terminate the lease early
- And other stipulations
If you break a lease agreement, you may be subject to a few penalties. These penalties may include rent payment advance for up to three months or forfeiture of security deposits. It may also mean that damage is done to your:
- Credit report: Not all landlords will report you to the credit bureau, but it is possible, especially if you leave with money owed to your landlord. This can damage your credit.
- Rental history: Part of renting a home will be your ability to get references from past landlords saying whether you were a good tenant or not. Their negative reference for you could mean it is harder to get started with a new rental in the future.
There may also be possible legal repercussions. By terminating your lease early, you are, essentially, taking money from your landlord. It will cost them time and money to find a replacement tenant. This can mean that your landlord will attempt to take you to court for some rental payments you will not be paying if you leave. So, what are you, as a tenant, supposed to do?
Is it Ever Justifiable to Break Your Lease?
The question, "do you get a deposit back if you break the lease?" is a big one. Life is unpredictable and sometimes it can be difficult to commit to a lease agreement. If you are struggling and want to get your security deposit back despite breaking your lease, there are some things you should know. You should keep in mind that purely wanting to move is not a valid reason to break your lease, nor is:
- Buying a new home
- Relocating for personal reasons (new job, school, partner, pet, etc.)
- Wishing to move closer to be with family or friends
With that, you can sometimes break a lease and get your security deposit back with minimal consequence if certain things apply to your situation. For instance, many states may allow you to legally break your lease agreement if:
- Active military, called to serve in a different area, and you can provide written notice, your lease will end in 30 days
- Health or safety concerns and violations can allow you to break a lease without consequence. For this, your rental must be without:
- Working heat or power
- Proper locks
- Running or heated water
- Functioning smoke detectors
- Garbage removal services
- Clean common areas
- Structural soundness
- Domestic violence Is a justifiable reason if you need to break the lease for personal safety.
- Harassment from your landlord is a justifiable reason for you to break your lease in some states.
- Senior care needed can be a reason If the tenant is breaking the lease to live in assisted living.
- Hardships may also allow you to break the lease. This may include losing your job, getting a divorce, etc.
None of these options assure you will get your entire security deposit back. However, if you hope to minimize the cost, they are good places to start. You should also keep in mind that every state is different. Your state of residence may have different laws and legal requirements regarding how you can break your lease in the following:
- New York
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- Washington State
- South Carolina
- Washington DC
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
How to Break Your Lease Without Consequence on Your Own?
Landlords are human beings. Many understand that life can sometimes change your circumstances. As a tenant who wants to break the lease, you may be able to talk to your landlord about your options. You may also be able to:
|Search Your Contract||Look for termination of lease clauses or things that may have been done by the landlord to break your agreement.|
|Offer to Find New Tenants||If you need to be out of your lease and have a friend that is needing a place to live, you can try to work out something with your landlord. This will give the landlord their income and give you a way out of your lease.|
|Offer Sublet||When you sublet, you are the primary resident which means you aren't breaking your lease. However, it isn't always something a landlord will approve of if they don't wish for you to let someone else live in your home|
None of these options will be effective in every situation. This means that your best course of action may be simply to write to your landlord to describe the situation and the reasons that you wish to break your lease early. If you do not get the response that you want from your landlord, it may be time to ask for help. DoNotPay can be your guide and help you save your reputation as a renter.
How to Keep Your Security Deposit When Breaking a Lease With DoNotPay
A lease is a legally binding contract that you must do your best to follow. However, when life throws a curveball, and you must move before the lease is up, DoNotPay feels you shouldn't be penalized with high costs.
Therefore, DoNotPay created the Break My Lease product to help tenants find a way to deal with life's curveballs while minimizing financial damages. Here's how you can get started in 3 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.
- Send your landlord an SCRA Protection Letter to help you prove active-duty services.
- Send your landlord a letter detailing why you plan to leave as covered by your state's tenant laws.
- Send your landlord a hardship letter so you can plead your case and try to reach a mutual agreement.
- Send your landlord proof of their requirement to mitigate damages and help you minimize the rent you will have to pay for breaking the lease.
DoNotPay Helps Relieve the Stress of Leases and More
With DoNotPay in your corner, we can help you discover information about reasons your landlord may keep your security deposit and how to prevent it even if you break the lease. For you, our services are always fast, easy, and convenient no matter who your landlord is.
We solve the question of can a landlord keep security deposits for breaking a lease but this isn't the only service DoNotPay has to offer. Our services also include:
- Dealing with a breach of contract
- Changing Your mailing address
- Creating a power of attorney
- Lowering property taxes