Changing or Breaking Your Lease
Fixed-term leases typically obligate tenants for a set period of time, such as one year. Depending on the state, tenants may have the right to move out before the lease term ends—for example, if the rental unit violates health or safety codes—without further liability for payment of rent. In addition, in many states, landlords must take reasonable effort to re-rent a unit (no matter what the tenant’s reason for leaving) without charging the tenant for rent through the end of the lease term. This is called the landlord’s duty to mitigate damages. Read on to learn your state rules covering tenant rights to break a lease, including when it is legally justified (often the case if the tenant is a victim of domestic violence), and tenant options if they want to break a lease without a legally acceptable reason.