Early Lease Termination Letter | Landlord-Tenant

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The early lease termination letter is designated for a Tenant who wishes to cancel a standard rental agreement before its end date. This request does not guarantee that the landlord will grant a release to the Tenant. Although, the Landlord may be motivated to cancel especially if the Tenant has lost their job, fallen sick, or any other extenuating circumstance that may pose a threat to the landlord collecting rent.

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Month-to-Month Tenants

If the tenant entered into a month-to-month rental agreement he or she will have legal grounds to break the lease at any time in accordance with their State notice period. The tenant will need to use the lease termination letter and send to the landlord by certified mail with return receipt.

How to Terminate Your Lease Early

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 or not the tenant is occupying the property.

At the same time, the landlord does not want a situation where they have to go through the eviction process. In most States, this can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days. Therefore if the tenant must vacate and terminate the lease before the end date, it’s in the best interests of both parties to have an amicable solution.

Step 1 – Communicate with the Landlord

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.

Step 2 – Negotiate the Conditions of the Termination 

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.

Step 3 – Request to Sublet the Property

If the landlord is being resistant in 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.

Step 4 – Ask for a Buy-Out

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.

Step 5 – Seek Legal Help

If the landlord is unwilling to break the lease it may be in the best interest of the tenant to lookup the laws in the State or seek the advice of a local attorney. There are typically loopholes that can lead the tenant being 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.

Step 6 – Move-Out

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 in accordance with 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.

What to Expect Breaking a Lease

In the best case, lease termination is a mutual and cooperative process: the tenant expresses the desire to leave, clearly and with sufficient notice, and together landlord and tenant reach a satisfactory solution. The worst cases can end up in court.

Often, the difference maker is communication and tact. Since lease termination can be a sensitive matter, it is best to broach it strategically. Document communications and send letters when necessary, but do not let documents substitute for conversations.


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