A Deal Maker,
Not A Deal Breaker

When and how to break a lease legally

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Landlord/Tenant Concerns |

Signing a lease is a commitment, but sometimes unexpected circumstances arise that make it necessary to break that commitment.

However, there are ways to break a lease legally without facing penalties.

When to consider breaking your lease

At the end of 2023, a small apartment (one- to two-bedroom) in California had an average rent of $2,067, so signing a lease is a significant financial commitment. However, there are several cases in which you may have grounds to break your lease. For example, you may need to relocate for a new job, your family circumstances may change, your unit becomes uninhabitable due to safety or health hazards or you face financial difficulties making it impossible to pay your rent.

How to break your lease legally

To break a lease can legally, review your lease agreement. Look for clauses that outline the process and any associated fees. Typically, you need to provide your landlord with written notice of your intent to break the lease 30-60 days from when you plan to move.

Discuss your situation with your landlord and explain why you need to break the lease. Provide documentation, such as a job offer letter or medical records. Some landlords may allow you to break your lease if you find a suitable replacement tenant who meets the landlord’s criteria and is willing to take over the lease. You may also negotiate with your landlord to waive the fees or work out a payment plan.

To protect yourself, keep copies of all communications with your landlord, including emails, letters and any agreements reached. Keep the lines of communication open with your landlord and seek a solution that works for both of you.