Your Top FAQ Answered: Terminating a Lease Agreement

An eviction differs from a termination of tenancy. A termination occurs when the landlord ends the lease and requests that the renter leave the rented property. Without being evicted, a tenant has the option of ending their lease and leaving. The actual court procedure and lawsuit to have a renter evicted from the property if they don’t depart is called an eviction.

What occurs if a renter violates their lease?

Generally speaking, a tenant is obligated to stay for the duration of the lease unless the landlord materially violates the terms of the lease, such as by neglecting to perform required repairs or by disobeying a key provision. A few states have regulations that permit tenants to terminate a lease due to medical issues or a career change that necessitates a long-term migration. Tenants who join the military or other relevant government positions are eligible for early lease termination under federal law and many comparable state statutes.

A tenant who breaches a lease without justification is liable for the balance of the rent payable during the length of the agreement. Regardless of the tenant’s reason for leaving, a landlord is required by law in the majority of states to make an effort to find a replacement tenant before collecting the balance of the money due on the lease.

When is it permissible for a landlord to legally end a lease and end the tenancy?

If a tenant repeatedly violates the terms of the lease or the law, such as by failing to pay rent on time, keeping a dog despite the lease’s no-pets provision, seriously damaging the property, or engaging in illegal activity on the property or close by, such as selling drugs, the landlord may legally terminate the lease.

A notification informing the tenant that the tenancy has ended must be sent by the landlord first. The specifics of how a landlord must draft and distribute (serve) a termination notice are outlined under state legislation. Depending on what the tenant did incorrectly, the termination notice can indicate that the tenancy is over and warn the renter that they must leave the property immediately or risk legal action for eviction. The notice may also provide the tenant a little period of time to straighten up, such as a few days to pay the rent or find a new place for the dog. Consult the rent laws of your state for more information on terminations related to rent.

What guidelines apply to the repayment of security deposits?

As long as they do it properly and for a legitimate reason, landlords are permitted to withdraw money from a tenant’s security deposit. The provision of a documented itemized accounting of deductions for unpaid rent, repairs for damages, and necessary cleaning that go beyond ordinary wear and tear, as well as payment for any overdue deposit amount, is mandated by many states.

States have different dates, but in general, landlords have 14 to 30 days after the tenant leaves — willingly or through an eviction — in which to repay deposits.

Learn more from California Lease Termination article.


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