Unfortunately, at times you may need to break your lease for security or safety reasons. Breaking your lease is a serious move because it is a one-sided rejection of obligations to which you previously agreed. The following tips will help you to properly break your lease and with the fewest repercussions.
Take Thorough Notes
While most states permit a tenant to break their lease for serious security or safety reasons, you must have documentation of these violations to support your walking away from your obligations. Therefore, you should record the date, time, any notice given to the landlord and any action taken by the landlord to resolve the issues. If possible, take pictures and keep any evidence that supports your claim, and print any email conversations and make note of any telephone conversations. Also make note of the landlord’s failure to fix the problems or damage.
Notify the Landlord
You cannot break your lease without giving the landlord proper notice of the violations you intend to rely upon; a landlord cannot fix what he did not know needed fixing. Notify the landlord in writing of security or safety problems and keep a copy for your records. It is important in your letter to clearly state that the unfixed problems are a security and safety threat and that they are serious enough to qualify your breaking the lease if they remain unresolved. Send the notice by certified mail with a return receipt to confirm that it was received by the landlord. Should you be prevented from living in your apartment because of the safety violations, notify the landlord that you will be deducting the cost from any amount owing.
Should the problem remain and the landlord has taken no action, send him one last letter stating your intent to break the lease due to the security and safety problems. This way, the landlord will be unable to dispute that he was unaware that the problems existed, that he had failed to act or that he misunderstood the severity of the problem.
File Your Claim
Each state has laws that protect a tenant’s rights. Typically, these laws set forth the means by which a tenant can break lease obligations for security or safety reasons. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your actions are proper and indisputable.
Should you be unable to find these laws or should they not exist, a letter sent to the landlord and the county or city’s housing department should be sufficient. In this letter you should explain the safety and security problems and include copies of your evidence of the landlord’s failure to repair it and also your intent to break the lease and move out. Also include that due to the landlord’s failure to maintain a safe residence your obligations to pay rent will terminate upon your leaving the property. Include a bank or certified check for any amount due to the landlord.
It is advisable to send a copy of this letter to the property owner, should it be a corporation or individual other than the landlord. Once again, send these letters by certified mail with return receipt to show that they were received by the intended party.
The most important thing to properly breaking your lease for security and safety reasons is to make sure you have thoroughly documented the violations and provided notice of these violations to the landlord. Of course, do not stay in a residence that is dangerous.