Landlord tenant law rarely describes whether or not it is possible for you to break your lease. State laws may, however, limit the amount of money that your landlord can expect you to pay them as a penalty. There are two common scenarios:
- Your landlord expects you to pay a lease break fee of one to three months rent
- Your landlord expects you to pay for all of the remaining rent
In some states, the amount of lease break fee that can be charged is capped. For example in Florida if a landlord offers you a lease break fee it can't be more than two months.
In many states, a landlord is required to do whatever they can to minimize the rent they lose from your departure. This means that they can't expect you to pay them for all of the remaining months - they need to find a new tenant as fast as possible and can only charge you for the rent they lost while they were looking for the new tenant.
Across the country, tenants who want to break their lease because of unsafe or unlivable conditions are protected by the warranty of habitability and the constructive eviction process. In many states, tenants who need to leave because they are being threatened or attacked in any way can break their lease without consequence as long as they get local law enforcement involved. Lastly, anyone serving in the US Military can - according to the Service Members Civil Relief Act - break a lease without being held responsible for lost rent or a lease break fee.
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