- Non-Payment of Rent
- Multiple Lease Violations
- Illegal Activity in the Unit
- Major Renovations
- The Lease Has an Early Termination Clause
- Tenant Agrees to the Lease Break in Writing
1. Non-Payment of Rent
The most common reason a landlord can break a lease is non-payment of rent by the tenant. The landlord must maintain a habitable environment for their tenants. However, tenants are also expected to uphold their end of the bargain and pay their rent on time every month. If the tenant does not pay their rent on time, the landlord may order them to pay back rent or vacate the premises. They can then break the lease and begin the eviction process if the tenant does not pay what they owe.
2. Multiple Lease Violations
Landlords can also break the lease if they discover the tenant has violated the terms of the agreement in any other way. Examples include causing substantial damage to the property, having loud parties, smoking in a non-smoking building, keeping an unapproved pet, etc. Typically, they must warn the tenant to stop the behavior or leave the property. But if they’ve been sufficiently warned and the behavior continues, the landlord can break the lease and evict them.
3. Illegal Activity in the Unit
If the landlord discovers the tenant is doing something illegal inside the unit, they can break the lease and order them to vacate immediately, depending on the severity of the crime. But they should also contact the police to report the crime and have them deal with the tenant if needed.
4. Major Renovations
If something unexpected happens and the unit requires substantial renovations, the landlord may break the lease to make the necessary improvements. An example is if there is a fire or a flash flood and the unit is severely damaged and uninhabitable without significant renovations. In that case, the landlord may break the lease and ask the tenant to leave temporarily or make other arrangements so they can get the property back to a decent condition.
5. The Lease Has an Early Termination Clause
An early termination clause allows either the tenant or the landlord to break the lease before the end of the term with proper notice. Usually, it’s 30 to 60 days’ notice, and both the tenant and the landlord must agree to the clause by carefully reading and signing the contract. So, if the lease has an early termination clause, the landlord can break it at any time for any reason, provided they let the tenant know ahead of time.
6. Tenant Agrees to the Lease Break in Writing
In certain cases, the tenant may also want to leave and be willing to break the lease before the end of the term. Keys for cash is a popular strategy where a landlord will offer a tenant money to leave the unit if they want to sell the building or occupy it themselves. If both the tenant and the landlord agree that they no longer wish to continue the relationship, they can do so without penalty. However, it’s best to get everything in writing to avoid future disputes.
There is no set penalty for breaking a lease, however, it is a legally binding contract. So, if either party does not uphold their responsibilities, they can be sued. If the landlord has a valid excuse for breaking the lease, like one of the circumstances mentioned above, then there will likely be no penalty. But if the landlord breaks the lease and kicks the tenant out of the building without a solid reason, they can bring them to court and may be entitled to damages.
It depends on the reason they broke the lease. If the landlord is breaking it because the tenant violated the lease terms first, they will begin the eviction process to have them removed. If they need to renovate the property, then they must begin the work immediately. But regardless of the reason, the tenant should try to make arrangements to find somewhere else to live because it’s never wise to live on someone else’s property without an enforceable contract in place. They should also contact a lawyer if they believe they’ve been asked to leave illegally.
Unless the tenant breaks the lease first, the contract allows early termination, or a sudden event renders the unit unlivable, a landlord must honor the agreement until the end of the term. If they do need to break the lease, they must provide their tenant with adequate notice, and if they don’t follow the proper procedures, the tenant can take legal action.
Can a Landlord Break a Lease to Sell a Property?
Landlords are permitted to sell their building at any time, even with tenants living in it. However, the new owner must honor the lease until the end of the term or negotiate with tenants to leave amicably.
Can a Landlord Break a Lease Before it Starts?
A landlord can only break a lease before it starts if the tenant agrees. If they suddenly change their mind and want to bring in a different tenant or live in the property themselves, they must get the tenant’s written permission to void the contract. Otherwise, they must still honor the agreement.
Can a Landlord Break a Lease Before Signing it?
Technically, there is no lease to break if the paperwork hasn’t been signed. Even if the landlord verbally told the tenant they would rent the property, they can change their mind if no contracts have been signed. But if they already took a deposit or any other money, they must refund it as soon as possible.