Is It Better To Break A Lease Or Get Evicted?

Editorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help.

Is It Better to Break a Lease or Get Evicted

If you are faced with the choice of you may be unsure which is the better choice for you. It could depend on why you need to leave the lease early. Breaking a lease, or leaving early, can be done legally if certain criteria are met. If the lease is broken illegally, it can have a negative impact on your credit, and you could be held responsible for the rent for the duration of the lease and other costs of breaking your lease, even if you are no longer living there.

On the other hand, evictions are initiated by the landlord and most states allow evictions for non-payment of rent, damage to property, or criminal activity. For evictions, you could be held responsible, and it could include court proceedings. Breaking your lease illegally and getting evicted have very similar consequences.

Understanding when breaking a lease is legal can be complicated. In this article, DoNotPay can show you how to legally break your lease, explain how to help notify your landlord with documents outlining the legal reasons that you need to break your lease, and help you avoid the consequences of getting evicted or breaking your lease illegally. DoNotPay also makes it quick and easy to legally break your lease in just three easy steps.

Why Is My Landlord Evicting Me?

Landlords, as well as tenants, are governed by a lease, which is a legal document. In most states, landlords must exhibit just cause to start the eviction process. Things that constitute just cause for eviction could be any of these four things:

  1. Non-payment of rent
  2. Criminal activity on the property
  3. Destruction of the rental property
  4. Violating your lease in other ways such as unhallowed pets or occupants, noise violations, etc.

In most cases, renters are given a time frame to cure the reason for eviction. For example, they may have thirty to sixty days to catch up on the rent or fix the damage. If you intentionally withhold rent or violate your lease in any way to prompt an eviction, it could end up costing you fines, penalties, late fees, and damages.

What Are the Potential Consequences of Breaking Your Lease?

If you break your lease illegally, like by moving out without telling your landlord and not having a sufficient reason, then you may face these consequences:

  • Pay the entire rent until your lease officially expires
  • Your landlord may evict you, and then you will have an eviction on your file, which can make it hard to rent again in the future
  • Credit damage
  • You may get sued by your landlord
  • Legal fees for going to court

Which Is Worse: Eviction or a Broken Lease?

Ultimately, an illegally have similar consequences, like credit damage and trouble renting an apartment again. However, if you are able to break your lease legally, whether you have a legal reason or can convince your landlord to legally terminate your lease, then breaking a lease is much better than getting evicted. You will avoid all the penalties, legal issues, and repercussions from getting evicted.

How Can I Break My Lease Legally?

If you have a reason to potentially break your lease without penalty, try explaining it to your landlord. In some cases, if you are on good terms with your landlord, they may not pursue legal action or eviction when you speak with them.

If that fails, consider the following legal reasons for prematurely breaking your lease. Keep in mind that each state has slightly different laws for landlords and tenants.

Service Members' Civil Relief ActIf you are currently an active member of the military, and you have been reassigned to a new duty station, you may qualify for federal protections when breaking a lease.
Habitability ViolationsIf your property has conditions that make it unsafe or uninhabitable and your landlord has not repaired or responded by repairing the violation, most states allow for a break of lease.
Landlord HarassmentLandlords are required by law to give adequate warning before entering your rental property. They are prohibited from locking you out of your residence for any reason. If your landlord has violated either of these laws or in some way is further harassing you, you may legally be allowed to break your lease.
Domestic ViolenceIf you, or one of your dependents, is a victim of domestic violence, most states will consider your safety as legal criteria for breaking a lease.
Seniors/Health ConcernsIf age or disability requires you to move to an assisted living or nursing facility, you may legally break your lease in most states.
Breach of Lease by the LandlordIf your landlord has violated any of the lease provisions, or if you find out that a provision in your lease is illegal, you may legally break your lease.
Mandatory Disclosure LawsCheck with your state to see if it mandates that landlords must disclose the presence of pollutants. It may be grounds for legal lease termination.
HardshipYou may be able to show that you are suffering a hardship that would facilitate that you break your lease. This may not be a legal reason to terminate your lease, but it is worth talking to your landlord and explaining your issue.

What Do I Do Next to Break My Lease Legally?

To begin the process of legally breaking your lease, you need to prepare a document to offer you the protection you receive under your state's tenant laws. For instance, if you are moving because of active military reassignment, you need to prepare an SCRA Protection Letter. For other legal reasons, you will need to file your State's Tenant Protection Letter or a hardship letter. These letters should be sent to the landlord to start the proceedings of breaking your lease legally.

What if I Can’t Break My Lease Myself?

If you cannot do it yourself, or simply don't know how to get started, DoNotPay can help. We can get your letter written and sent to your landlord, saving you time and money. Here's how you can get started 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.

Here are the methods that DoNotPay can use to break your lease, depending on your specific situation:

  • 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.
  • 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 will send the appropriate letter on your behalf. You should hear back from your landlord within a few weeks with a response.

What Else Can DoNotPay Do to Help You?

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