Breaking Your Lease? Here’s What It Could Cost You – Get Informed Now!

Getting stuck in an uncomfortable and inhabitable apartment is miserable. Breaking the lease may be your only way out, but that’s a scary prospect. Many people must also break a lease because of military duty or medical disabilities. So, how much does it cost to break a lease?

It costs at least 1-2 months’ rent to break a lease without a valid reason. However, you can break a lease without paying penalties for several reasons, such as violence, harassment, and military duty. You can also get out of your lease if you prove you have a qualifying disability. In that case, you must provide medical documents and 30 days’ notice.

Landlords must fix problems that make your home uninhabitable. If they fail to fix these problems, you can get out of the lease early. Follow along as we explore how much to break a lease and see how you can avoid penalties.

How Much Do Most Apartments Charge to Break a Lease?

Depending on the landlord, it may cost up to 2 months’ worth of rent to break a lease. Landlords typically impose steep fees to discourage tenants from breaking the lease. In other cases, you may be required to spend as much money as the landlord would lose from you breaking the lease.

For example, if you break the lease with 3 months left, you may have to pay 3 months’ rent. In some cases, there is a cap to this. You may not have to pay all the money the landlord lost out on if you break the lease shortly after signing. In that case, you’ll likely only need to pay a few months’ rent.

Some states and municipalities require tenants to give ample notice before breaking a lease. You must typically provide at least 30 days’ notice before you break your lease. The landlord may still penalize you, but it won’t likely be as bad as breaking the lease with 7 days’ notice.

Can You Break a Lease Without Paying?

You can break a lease without paying in many states under special circumstances. However, you must typically be able to prove that your reason for breaking the lease isn’t frivolous. Let’s see how you can break a lease without paying, or at least without paying much.

Your Home is Uninhabitable

Landlords have a responsibility to make sure your home is a safe environment. A house or apartment is deemed uninhabitable if it violates building codes or has safety hazards. For example, fire hazards, mold, pest infestations, and defunct HVAC equipment can make a home uninhabitable.

Your landlord has a grace period to fix these problems. That said, you can legally break the lease without penalty if they fail to fix the problems. The landlord can dispute this if you never made maintenance requests.

That’s why it’s important to document your maintenance requests as a tenant. Take pictures and or videos of the problems as well as backup evidence if they dispute it.

Moving Because of Military Duty

People in the military often have to move unexpectedly. This makes it hard to stick with a lease in some cases. Luckily, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects active military members from penalties for relocating.

The catch is that you must prove to the landlord that you are moving because of military obligations.

This is easy, and you can simply attach the deployment papers to a letter and send it to your landlord. If they object, you can ask your superiors for more clarification or documents. You may still need to pay one month’s rent if you don’t give ample notice, but that’s better than steep penalties.

Victims of Harassment and Violence

Sadly, some people must break their leases to avoid harassment, violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Luckily, many states understand this and won’t penalize tenants for breaking a lease over it. In many cases, you can even get your security deposit back if you break the lease for this reason.

Simply provide police records, medical records, or documentation like a protection order or restraining order. Otherwise, you can reach out to a social worker and request a letter that verifies your claims. This is an emotionally tough process, but it’s worthwhile to break the lease for your safety.

You Must Move Because of Your Health

Breaking a lease because of poor health or a disability is quite understandable. Most states have laws that protect tenants who must move because of disabilities. Each state has a list of qualifying disabilities that may require a tenant to break their lease.

If your disability isn’t on that list, you can try to negotiate with your landlord to avoid penalty. You must provide 30 days’ notice when you move because of a qualifying disability. Landlords also require documentation that verifies your disability so they can waive the fees.

Your Landlord Doesn’t Uphold the Contract

Lease agreements are just as much about the landlord as they are about the tenant. Tenants are expected to adhere to the rules, and so are landlords. If your landlord violates the terms of the contract, you can typically break the lease without a problem.

For example, your lease agreement may say the landlord cannot enter without permission. If your landlord enters without permission and violates your privacy, they will have violated the terms of the agreement. You can also break the lease if you discover that the landlord failed to disclose something they were supposed to.  

It also counts as a violation if your landlord doesn’t notify you about it with the proper notice. Check your local regulations if you are concerned about your landlord’s actions. The rules are different everywhere. A contract violation may be your chance to break the lease without penalty.

So, How Much Does Breaking a Lease Cost?

Breaking a lease typically costs 1-2 months’ rent. However, the landlord may require you to pay for more months that you miss paying. You can legally break a lease without penalty due to active military duty, violence, and harassment. Tenants can also break a lease if the landlord violates their end of the contract.

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