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When Can a Resident Legally Break a Lease?

For many property owners, the ideal resident is one who commits to a long-term lease on their rental home and complies with the lease for the entire term. There is a lot an owner can do to encourage this kind of situation, but sometimes, and despite your best efforts, a resident may still break their lease. A broken lease is always an inconvenience, but there are times when it is legal for a resident to do so. Knowing when this rule applies and how to respond are important to your long-term rental success.


Military Duty

Residents who are members of the military and their families often face uncertainty long-term. For this reason, the Service Members Civil Relief Act states that if military personnel receive orders of transfer (deploy or induction) more than 35 miles from the property, discharge, or if there is loss of life, they can legally break their lease. They do need to provide written notice and proof of their orders or a letter from a commanding officer. These laws are outlined in the Servicemembers Relief Act.


Employer-Mandated Job Change

In some areas, a resident who is forced to move due to an employer-mandated job change may also be able to legally break their lease. The circumstances and terms under which you may need to comply with their request will vary, so be sure to check state and local laws on the matter.


Unlivable Conditions

By law, a rental home must be safe and habitable in order for your lease to be binding. If needed repairs are not made, or the property is neglected to the point that it is not safe or livable, a resident may have a good case for breaking their lease. In some cases, the landlord may also be liable for the resident’s moving expenses.


Domestic Violence

Many states allow a resident to break a lease if the resident is a survivor of domestic violence. The resident is usually required to provide proof, such as an emergency protective order, as well as written notice of their intent to vacate. Some areas also allow a resident who has been threatened or assaulted with a weapon to break their lease without penalty, as long as the person responsible is placed under arrest for the incident. It’s important to know whether your state or local laws make such provisions.


While most leases can be legally broken for these and other reasons, the financial consequences of doing so may vary depending on the location of your rental property and the specific circumstances of your resident. When you use Real Property Management Pittsburgh to manage your rental homes, you are assured to have professionals on your side who know when a resident can, and cannot, legally break a lease, and in either case, get your property rented again quickly.

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