How to Break Your Lease for Security and Safety Reasons

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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.

12 Responses to “How to Break Your Lease for Security and Safety Reasons”

  1. May 13, 2010 at 2:24 am, D'Ann Stefano said:

    one of my roommates just hung himself ,dead in the garage. everyone moved out. I never signed a lease or rental agreement. I want my 800 deposit and the prorated rent from the day the guy did that. Is that possible in California?


  2. June 09, 2010 at 11:43 pm, kristin said:

    D’ann, it was not your landlord’s fault your room mate made that unfortunate decision. I DO know in the state of Utah that you can get out of your lease for an experience (case in point, a neighbor commits suicide, the body was not found for several days, neighbors left after the odor became intense)

    also, you state you had no lease or rental agreement? How was your deposit made? To whom? You will most likely have to file in small claims if you can prove you paid a deposit. Good luck, but personally IANAL but I play one on TV 😉


  3. June 09, 2010 at 11:49 pm, Monica said:

    Question: I want out of my lease early for a security reason. I am in Glendale AZ. I had my room mate move in almost a year ago, I asked my landlord if they need his ID to get on the lease. She declined and said nicely “no problem, we don’t need his ID he can just move in” this really worries me, what if he is a sex offender (he’s not) don’t the neighbors need to be alerted? I found out they let just anyone in, they don’t check them. This means I might be living next door to felons, sex offenders, child molesters and god knows who. They also lease to illegal immigrants (hey i dont mind the immigrants but isnt this against the law?)

    Also, this complex was a member of the Crime Free Community when I moved in, but a few months ago they lost their status.

    Does anyone have ANY advice they can give me?


  4. February 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm, Desperate said:

    I just moved into my place several days ago. Today the maintenance man came to fix my toilet and check the furnace. I soon found out the furnace is placed under the townhouses in a crawl space (which I was never told about) when he left I heard a cat meowing like it was being murdered. I went to management and told them I thought a cat had gotten caught under the crawl space they told me to call Animal Control which I did. When I got back to my place it smelled of cat urine and feces so bad I could hardly breath!!! The Animal Control person showed up and went to talk with management. She then came back to my place and told me that they said more then 10 cats live in the crawl space which means they are using it as a litter box. It smells so awful!! Is this a health violation?? I live in Utah. I’m seriously reconsidering living here! HELP!


  5. August 26, 2011 at 11:26 am, Tracy said:

    We have been broken into 2 now ..Once in my appartment and 1 in the truck, and my boyfriend works out of town 3 weeks out of the month and I just dont feel safe..Can I break my lease


  6. November 09, 2011 at 11:07 am, mommy2be said:

    Hi everyone I have been living in my apartment for a couple of month(3or4). I’m pregnant with twins, and have complained to my landlord about me not having a working stove, my fridge that was suppose to be new when i move in that has rust which is falling into my ice trays everytime i open it, and mold that is growing in it.I have complained constantly about this due to the fact mold can make someone very sick, i have also complained about the gate that never gotten fixed that was suppose to get fixed before i moved in and still broke, and the two sliding glass doors that are hard to open and close, as well as my toilet that you have to flush 3x for it to properly fluch correctly, and my shower that backs up water when your trying to take a shower, and your left standing in dirty water. what should i do i want to break my lease get my deposite, and the money i have been paying for the last couple of months,that i have been paying with nothing getting fixed. The Village In Tallahassee fl on Pensacola Street I recommend no one to move their its horrible,


  7. February 03, 2012 at 1:20 pm, sherry said:

    My son is a freshman and goes to the Univsity of Kentucky. We signed a one year lease in a new apartment complex. Since he has lived there the police activity has increased substantially. They have even had to send in the swat team on occassion. We as parents have witnessed management encouraging loud partying. There has been violent crimes reported at the complex and we are currently waiting on a police report stating all the occurences. Last week my son was robbed a gun point at the complex. We have currently moved him out and put him in a safe place, but now we have to pay two rents. How can we get out of our lease? Please help!!!


  8. August 14, 2012 at 2:51 am, Tired said:

    So, my roommate and I have only lived in this place for a few months and our neighbor was murdered. We heard the yelling, the screaming and the gun shots. To make matters worse, I was on the news saying that I heard everything. They still havent caught the guy and our anxiety level has increased ten fold. I can’t sleep, and am constantly late to work because of it. My performance at work is also slipping and my managers are starting to notice. The emotion and medical effect that its had on me is making it hard for me to function as well. We want to break our lease early, but our landlord says that our anxiety isnt a reason to break a lease and that domestic violence happens everywhere? Is there any way around this? Anything I can do at all? I live in Oregon.


  9. August 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm, Kudzu said:

    I’ve lived in my Apt for 7 years. Every couple of years the mold growing in the window get so bad that I have to request the landlord do something about it. One year, in 2007, they came and bleached over the mold and painted it. in 2009, I got really sick with raised red hives, breathing problems and erratic weight gain, and I discovered the entire width of the back wall covered in mold up to 2 ft high and higher in some places, I also found mold in the front window and surrounding the in wall AC Unit. I cleaned the mold MYSELF and sent a certified letter to the landlord asking for professional mold service. He sent an official reply that someone was coming to check it, but send an unofficial verbal reply via on of his crew that the only thing he would allow was bleaching and painting. Since I’d already cleaned the mold myself, they were only going to paint the walls yet again, but that didn’t work in 2007 or in 2005 because the mold just eats up the new paint. Since I was too broke to move out, aand I had no insurance for hospital tests or mold tests to prove anything, I was stuck. The maintenance had pity on me and scraped off the old flaking water damage paint and sealed the walls and repainted with a fungicide as well as putting special sealing paint outside my wall, bu they never bleached or painted my front window and AC and the mold immediately started growing there and in the windows again. Since 2009, I’ve been spraying the windows and walls, and new mold growth I find with 40volume peroxide, and looking for a new place to live. Like I said before, I’m low income and this is the cheapest place in town, so I got a third job and worked extra hours and was luckily able to buy a house on mortgage the same as my rent in 2012. But now my Landlord refuses to let me out of the lease I had to renew my lease in January for a lease that ends in June otherwise I would have lost my chance to renew a couple of months before the lease ends, which was when I found the house. Not only that, but he told me if I left anyway that they would refuse to rent out my unit so that they could keep collecting rent from my empty unit, and on TOP OF THAT, I’ve been bringing in people to re-assign my lease, like he said I could do, but He is DENYING their applications so they are not eligible to be assigned my lease. Plus to make it funnier, I put in for work request last week that included my toilet not being able to flush because the arm is rusted away, and the hot water tank not making hot water, and it’s Tuesday and I’ve heard NOTHING from them. What remedies do I have, Since my Landlord is walking all over me and doesn’t care about my health, finances or comfort ( toilet and hot water)? I didn’t give written notice to move out cause i thought i could get someone to reassign but he’s blocking that, so now even if I gave notice I’d have to default on the rent or pay at least 2 more months but he said Ihave to pay the rest of the least equal through next June in 2012. HELP! HELP! HELP! ( to ice the cake I’ve lost two of my three jobs last week and the third has cut my hours!! HELP!!!!!!!!!)


  10. January 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm, Kayla said:

    I have had my car broken into. I also have people walk up to me while I’m out walking my dog asking for drugs. Along with that New Years night we had .44 caliber gun shells outside my door on my porch and down our staircase. Not 3 days later there were gunshots in 2 different directions cars speeding away and sirens. Not to mention my ceiling busted open with no known cause and water came pouring in my apartment all over my counter and carpet. I called for maintenance and told the front office since I don’t have a number for my landlord. It’s now a month later and my carpet has not been cleaned even though I was told they would come the Friday after it happened and my ceiling has not been fixed. I wasn’t notified upon move in of the crime rate in the area. And my lease says I owe 2000 if I break the lease. Do I have any grounds to break the lease without paying and if so how?


  11. March 01, 2013 at 12:44 pm, Worried said:

    My husband and I moved into a townhouse (Richmond, va) about 8 months ago. For the past two months there have been gun shots heard every night. The property owner knows about this because a bullet went into a neighbors apartment and they sent out a notice. I do not feel safe knowing that one night the bullet could be going through my window. Another safety issue I have a problem with is that the owner of the property is not enforcing their rules. They only send out notices thinking that everyone reads them. There are several tenants that let their dogs roam around without being on a leash. It is really hard to take my own dogs out because I never know when a random dog is going to come by and try something. I need help, I want out of this place without having to pay all these fees!!


  12. September 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm, Taylor said:

    I want to break my lease due to the fact my ac runs all day and night and never shuts off. And the house never gets below 85 degrees. The land owner refuses to replace the old and worn out central heat and air. Do I have a case or do I need to stick it out.


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