How to break your lease without breaking the law: Finding a loophole

Life is hard to plan for. Sometimes you have to move before your lease is up – like if your roommate flakes out on you or you saw an awesome place on RadPad you just couldn’t give up (we don’t blame you). We’ve been looking at various ways someone can legally break a lease – using the warranty of habitability, or simply working it out with their landlord. The last option (and arguably the most difficult) is to find a loophole in your agreement that will necessitate your landlord letting you out of your lease.

Option #3 – Finding a loophole

If your home isn’t affecting your health, and your landlord isn’t willing to work with you (what a Scrooge), turn to your lease for loopholes, usually identified through ambiguities or clauses. Many leases will contain a buyout clause – this will let you legally end your lease if you pay a certain amount of money (a few months’ rent) and provide notification of move-out (usually 30-60 days). While this will still cost you some money, chances are it’s better than paying out the remainder of your lease.

Your lease is probably not the most interesting reading material, but comb through it for any areas that are unclear and don’t make sense. This might require some dedicated research – for example, if your lease says your security deposit is non-refundable unless you continue the lease for a certain amount of time, this is illegal, and could make your lease void. (But how would you know that? Well, besides us telling you.)

Many states (and therefore leases in those states) require you to have the right to “quiet enjoyment.” This means the landlord has to ensure that all tenants are not disruptive. If your neighbor constantly has loud parties, or their dog barks for hours on end, you have notified your landlord and they have not done anything to fix the situation, you might have grounds to break your lease.

Does your landlord have a “no pets” policy? Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landlord cannot enforce this policy on tenants who require a service or therapy animal. If your landlord has tried to make you get rid of a service animal, that may be grounds to break your lease.

If none of the above options work, and you’ve read our posts on the warranty of habitability or working it out with your landlord, you may just be stuck with your lease until it legally ends. There are a few other reasons to legally break it (active military duty, victim of domestic violence, necessity of moving to an assisted-living facility, bankruptcy), but these are situations you must be actively involved in for your lease to be rendered void.

If you do have to stick it out, sign up for Pay with RadPad, which automagically charges your debit or credit card, then mails your landlord a check for your rent every month. You don’t even have to think about it, so you can focus on finding that lease loophole while still paying your rent on time.