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Early Lease Termination Letter | Landlord-Tenant

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Early Lease Termination Letter | Landlord-Tenant

Updated July 11, 2024

An early lease termination letter is a formal request by the landlord or tenant to cancel a current and existing lease. Most commonly, this is written by the tenant when requesting to be released from the contract due to financial circumstances. In most cases, the landlord will release the tenant by charging them their security deposit amount. The rent also must be paid-in-full if the tenant would like a formal release.

Sample Early Termination Letter

August 22, 2022

Dear John,

This letter is to formally notify you that I will be breaking my lease before the termination date listed on the contract. I am being relocated out of state for a new job and intend to vacate this unit by September 15. Per our lease contract, this 30 days’ notice waives any penalty fees imposed for early lease termination. I will make sure all utility accounts—internet, cable TV, and electricity—are fully paid and closed by the official end of my lease on September 30.

You can send my security deposit within the legally mandated timeframe to my new address listed below:

123 Farben St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Please let me know when I can schedule a move-out walk-through of the apartment to assess the condition with you. You can reach me anytime at (718) 123-4567 or via email at bob@email.com.


987 Hole St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

How to Get Out of a Lease (6 steps)

  1. Communicate
  2. Negotiate
  3. Request to Sublet
  4. Ask for a Buy-Out
  5. Seek Legal Help
  6. Move Out

The process of terminating a lease early really depends on the tenant and their relationship with the landlord or manager. To the furthest extent of the law, the landlord has the right to collect the rent until the end of the lease whether the tenant is occupying the property.

1. Communicate

landlord and tenant discussing early termination

A lease represents a legal and financial commitment to pay rent through the end date of the contract. For tenants who wish to leave early, often the best that they can do is to ask and present your situation.

If the tenant has lost their job or is relocating, the landlord will usually be understanding if proper notice is given.

2. Negotiate

landlord and tenant in negotiation

The more notice that is provided to the landlord the better. This is a question of courtesy, but it can also impact whether a tenant is ultimately on the hook. Most jurisdictions require that a landlord make an earnest effort to re-rent an apartment vacated early before trying to recover rent from the previous tenants. So, the more time that the landlord has to find replacement tenants, the less likely tenants will be made to pay for the remaining months.

3. Request to Sublet

tenant showing potential sublessee on phone to landlord

If the landlord is being resistant to allowing the tenant to terminate the lease he or she should request that they be allowed to find a sub-tenant themselves. This can be completed by adding a lease addendum, if subleasing is forbidden, to allow the tenant to find someone new to occupy the property and pay rent.

Under this arrangement, the tenant and sub-tenant would complete a sublease agreement. The sub-tenant would pay the tenant monthly rent and the tenant would continue paying the landlord under the same terms of the original lease.

4. Ask for a Buy-Out

landlord discussing buy-out with tenant

Another negotiation tactic is to seek a buy-out from the landlord. This would consist of the landlord freeing the tenant of all liability for a cash payment. This is usually done by electing to have the landlord keep the security deposit, typically 1-month’s rent.

5. Seek Legal Help

tenant meeting with legal counsel

If the landlord is unwilling to break the lease it may be in the best interest of the tenant to look up the laws in the State or seek the advice of a local attorney. There are typically loopholes that can lead the tenant to be able to exit the lease, for example, if the tenant attempting to leave is the victim of domestic abuse there are laws in almost every State that allow the tenant to break the lease without penalty.

6. Move Out

tenant packing up boxes

After the landlord and tenant have agreed to terms on terminating the lease it’s time for the tenant to move out of the property. If the tenant was able to retain their security deposit they will be entitled to be paid within the Required State Return Period.

It is recommended, although not required, that any deal made between the landlord and tenant be in writing. Any oral agreement made will not be recognized by a court and could be viewed as the tenant breaking their lease and lead to financial consequences.

Related Forms

Month-to-Month Lease Termination Letter

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