There are many reasons why someone may want to break their lease early. They may be required to move to another city for a new job, they may be getting a divorce and need a new home, or they may have received a raise and can afford a better place.
Whatever the reason, they should look at their contract to find out if there are any conditions that pertain to breaking a lease early before they send an early lease termination letter. There are also state Landlord Tenant laws that will govern the situation if the laws differ from what’s in the contract. These laws can be found online.
It is important to give the landlord notice that the tenant plants to vacate the property, so he or she will have enough time to find another tenant. Thirty days are considered enough advance time, but the contract may stipulate a different time. It is also important to follow the conditions of the contract, otherwise the landlord could take the tenant to court.
The letter should be clear, concise and to the point. This is not the place to complain about the upkeep of the house or beat around the bush. It should state in the first sentence that the tenant plans to terminate their lease early. Any added points can cause confusion and lead to a wrong interpretation of the letter by the landlord.
Some of the points the landlord will look for in the letter are:
It is important that the letter contain a forwarding address even if it is not the tenant’s new residence. Landlords typically have 30 days to return a security deposit, so they will need a new address for the tenant.
The tenant may allow the landlord to show the property to prospective new tenants, and give a time when this would be possible. In any case, the landlord needs to know when the property will be vacant, so they can bring new tenants as soon as possible. Their finances may depend on the property being rented.
The tenant should request the landlord to walk through the house or apartment to see if there is any damage. Ideally, the tenant will have photographs of any previous damage when they first moved in, so they are not charged for damage caused by others.
In many cases, it can be very difficult and expensive to terminate a lease early. Sometimes, landlords request liquidation damages that are excessive. Most courts frown on these clauses.
If the landlord is not sympathetic, it is recommended that the tenant contact a real estate lawyer. Sometimes, simply receiving a letter on a lawyer’s letterhead is enough to make the landlord agree. Another possibility is to contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The tenant can inform the landlord that they plan to ask the BBB to resolve the situation. This will be a lot of inconvenience for the landlord, which they may want to avoid.
If the tenant is breaking the lease early because of a failure by the landlord or property management company, he or she may be entitled to compensation.
Here is a sample early lease termination letter. Since it may serve as notice given according to the time stipulated in the contract, it should be a formal business letter and sent by certified mail. This will give the tenant proof of the date the letter was received in the event any dispute arises later.
Sample Early Lease Termination Letter
20 Henry Avenue
Crystal City, VA, 12345
123 Landlord Road
Crystal City, VA, 12346
Dear Mr. Round:
This letter is to formally notify you that I am required to break my lease before the stipulated termination date in the contract. My wife and I are divorcing, and each of us will seek a new residence.
In my lease contract, it gives provision for early termination if I notify you 30 days in advance, pay any outstanding rent and pay one month’s rent as a fee for early termination. The date you receive this letter will begin my thirty days notice, and at the end of that time on DATE, I will give both the remaining rent and an additional full month’s rent. My forwarding address is ADDRESS.
I will be available any day after 6:00 pm if you would like to view the house to determine that it is in good condition, so you can refund my deposit. You can contact me at 555-123-4567 or a Name@email.com if you have any questions or requests for me.
Signature of Gina Jay
Printed Name of Gina Jay