Is It Impossible to Break a Lease before It Begins?

In the matters of real estate, leasing and renting become complicated with the lease or renter’s agreement between tenant and landlord. It is when the paperwork has been signed by both parties that it may not be possible to end the lease itself without breaking the terms which then may invoke a clause that permits the landlord to collect contractual breach fees and other monetary amounts.

Sometimes, circumstances do not permit a tenant to initiate a rental situation. If this is the case, he or she may need to break the lease agreement before moving in, and this could affect how things progress forward. This is often due to either moving, not moving, transfers for work, family events, emergencies and emotional issues about moving into a new place. However, once the documents have been signed, the clauses and conditions contained within the contractual agreement are in place. This would require the terms for breaking the lease to commence, and these often include additional fees or months of rent to discontinue the lease itself.

Breaking a lease before the tenant moves in is considered an early termination. While no actual moving has occurred, the agreement commenced once a security deposit and application were completed. The legal binding paperwork has been filed and the landlord has supplied the space with no one else taking the unit until the agreement has ended. However, if this is how the person wants to move forward, he or she must contact the landlord to end the agreement, or he or she may pay rent for a unit that is not in use. It is best to have a lawyer look over any legal work if there is any possibility the agreement will end early, if another situation may arise or if the matter is confusing for the potential tenant.

Breaking the Lease

Even if the tenant has not entered or occupied the unit, the document signed becomes a legally binding contract between both landlord and tenant. If he or she decides not to move in, this could be considered an intent to break the agreement. Breaking the lease in this manner could provide the landlord with a way to obtain a new tenant and may not incur the full early termination fees. However, it is important to have these notifications in writing with a 30-day notice for the records of the intention of breaking the lease. Most states require landlords to make a good-faith effort of acquiring a new tenant so the one breaking the lease does not need to pay the entire lease period’s rent as is often proposed in the agreement.

The rent must be paid until a new tenant occupies the property by the current one. It does not matter if he or she is physically in the unit. There are options at this point in rent and the security deposit. The deposit could be used as a portion of the rent and any remaining may be returned once a new tenant has occupied the unit. Or, the landlord could continue collecting rent and return the deposit in full once a new renter has been found. Negotiations are necessary when the lease document does not specify what to do in these situations.

Rights of the Tenant

When the state has provided more rights to the tenants than landlords, it is possible that a standard lease may have provisions for tenants that want to back out of a lease after documents have been signed by both tenant and landlord. These would need to be clearly defined as a clause that is kept in the lease agreement. Often if this is the case, these are limited in scope and time. To take advantage, the tenant may need to provide a notice in writing within a specified time period such as 48 hours after the lease date has started. However, if these provisions do not exist, the landlord may uphold the terms and conditions in the contract in full. This would remove any other rights the tenant might have had in the situation.

Legal Help in Lease Termination

If there are complications with the lease, the landlord has made a mistake or there are certain laws that are in favor of the tenant, it is essential to hire a lawyer to break these leases with few or no consequences. The legal representative may also explain any issues with the situation or ways to reduce or eliminate additional fees.

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