How Much Does It Cost to Break a Lease?
Before breaking a lease, consider your reasons for doing so, local laws on breaking a lease, how much more time you have, and what early termination clauses the contract has on the same. How much it will cost you to break a lease and the repercussions of breaking a lease will depend largely on these factors as it can cost you nothing or thousands of dollars.
To manage tenants who break the lease before the contract expires, most landlords include a flat fee in the lease or other conditions like paying monthly rent until a new tenant is found. The problem is that these landlords try their best to charge you as much as they can before you leave their property.
However, DoNotPay can help you evade most of the fees depending on the specifics of the contract, your reasons to move, and the condition of the residence. You'll only need to submit the required documents and information to DoNotPay and walk through the process for the best deal.
What Happens if You Break a Lease?
While local laws may protect against the landlord's exploitation, you may end up paying some fees as per your lease agreement. However, there's no specific amount indicated that you must pay, and that leaves you with four scenarios.
- An early termination flat fee according to an early termination clause in your contract. The landlord will ask for one or two months' rent as a flat fee in most cases.
- Pay the rent for the remaining months before your contract expires. For example, if your rent is $1500, and you still have three months remaining, you may have to pay $4500 to cover the remaining months. Also, you may not get your security deposit back.
- Pay the rent until the landlord gets another tenant to occupy the space. This is common law in most states.
- The landlord could sue you for early termination. If he wins the case, you could incur costs like attorney fees, court fees, damages, and lose your security deposit.
Should you be charged any fees for early termination of your lease, skipping out on payment could result in a lower credit score.
When Is Breaking a Lease Justified?
There are different situations when the law allows you to break a lease at no cost. That means the landlord will let you go without demanding that you pay any rent for the remaining months, charge an early termination fee, or charge you in court.
Some of these reasons are:
- Active Duty Military Change of Station Orders - If you are leaving for uniformed or military service duty, you may qualify for federal protections to break your lease as per the Service Members' Civil Relief Act.
- Landlord Failing to Maintain Property - You can break the lease if the living conditions in the rented space are deplorable or are uninhabitable. This concerns heating and cooling, appliances, cleanliness, security, and various other issues defined in law that the landlord does not meet.
- Constructive Eviction – If your landlord constantly harasses you while you are on the property, the law allows you to break the lease and go without paying anything as fees.
- Domestic Violence – Most states will allow you to break the lease if you or your dependent is a victim of domestic violence. Moving away from the property may help keep you safe.
- Senior citizens or the disabled can break a lease to commit to an assisted living home.
- If the landlord breaches the contract for any reason, you are allowed to break the lease. However, not all states allow that, so check your state laws first.
- Mandatory Disclosure Laws - Some states mandate that landlords disclose the presence and testing of certain pollutants in a rented unit. If the landlord fails at these disclosures, the tenant can break the lease.
When Can You NOT Break Lease?
You may not break the lease for the following reasons:
- Lost your job
- Moving closer to family
- Getting married or moving in with a partner
- Purchasing a home
- Disliking the property location
How Much Does It Cost to Break Lease With the Help of DoNotPay?
DoNotPay will look through your case and find ways to minimize the costs for you through its Break My Lease product. Some approaches may be:
- Filing an SCRA Protection Letter
- Filing a State Tenant Law Protection Letter
- Sending a Hardship Letter
- Notify the Landlord of the Requirement to Mitigate 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 four potential options:
- If you're a uniformed service member 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.
- Suppose 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. In that case, we'll notify your landlord of that obligation and minimize the remaining rent you have to pay.
And that's it! DoNotPay will send the appropriate letter on your behalf (mailing is more effective in these cases since it's traceable). You should hear back from your landlord within a few weeks with a response.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay can help you break a lease in any state. Choose your state and click on the link below to get started.
Check out DoNotPay's Break My Lease Product page to get started.