What Happens If You Need to Break Your Rental Lease?

In many cases, long-term rental agreements come with lots of GREAT perks! But life happens… And there are times you may need to break an apartment rental agreement before the lease term is up for renewal.

This means you need clarity on what happens when you need to break a lease early. You also need to know when situations causing you to initiate early lease termination may be in your favor.

Here are some situations that could cause you to break or early terminate your lease.

reasons to terminate your apartment or rental home lease

You found or finished constructing your dream home

Building your dream home can be an amazing experience. Top to bottom you’re in control of the style, size, location, and decor. But the construction process doesn’t always go according to plan. In some cases, inspections cause delays, but you CAN get lucky. The best reason to break your lease is when your home is ready for move-in early!  

Job Relocation

There’s always a reason to celebrate a brand new job offer in a different city or state. But after you call your best friend or family it may be time to contact your property management team with the great news. Relocation is also very common for military personnel who receive orders to move to another state or country and may be exempted from early lease termination penalties.

Property damage

In most states, there is a minimum livability standard that your property manager must maintain for your rental. If there’s a life or health-threatening issue, such as the presence of black mold, most property managers will give you an immediate option to part with your lease or move to another apartment home. In some cases, if your appliances are out of order for long periods of time without fixing or replacement, you may be able to break your lease early without penalty.

Property management responsibility

Get to know everyone’s rights and responsibilities as spelled out in the lease and according to state or local laws. Thankfully, reputable property management companies such as Redwood Neighborhoods have strong reputation for quality construction and maintenance of their rentals. In a rare case, if your property manager repeatedly ignores their upkeep and maintenance responsibilities, you as the renter may be entitled to early lease termination.

Incarceration or domestic violence dispute

This is a trickier area, but if a couple is renting an apartment, often both of their wages or salaries are required for living expenses. If one spouse is incarcerated, this means—through no fault of his or her own—the other spouse is unable to meet the rent payment requirements on the reduced household income. The same applies if a spouse needs to leave because of domestic violence. Early lease termination for either of these reasons can normally be worked out with the property manager or landlord. 


The pandemic that began in early 2020 has changed the game in many areas of life, including the ability of many to pay rent and meet their lease obligations. Some states and laws forbid eviction when tenants are adversely affected by either the virus or the temporary economic conditions created by shutdowns and lockdowns. Be sure to consult your area’s laws when it comes to COVID-19 and its impact on early lease termination due to economic hardship.

Before you decide to break your rental lease early for any reason, be sure to do the following:

Document everything including photos, emails, etc.

If liveability or property conditions are the reason for your desire to terminate a lease early, be sure to document the condition and the correspondence. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to this.

Communicate openly with your property management company or landlord.

If you think your early termination is justified, the process can’t be kept secret. Make sure your property manager or landlord is aware of your desire, plans, and reasons for termination.

Understand your lease.

Consult your lease agreement. You may find, spelled out in detail, that your specific reason is—or isn’t—justified grounds for early termination. There may also be fees associated with your decision to move out.

Ask for help.

Sometimes a real estate lawyer or community advocate can give you an edge when it comes to knowing your rights and gaining leverage in your situation.

Give notice within your lease terms.

Even if you’re moving out ahead of your lease term, it’s best to give 60- days notice (or whatever is required in your lease agreement). Sometimes giving the required amount of notice of early move-out means lessening the penalty. 

If you can avoid it:

Continue to pay your rent

Being current on rent payments, where they are paid in full and on time, will normally cause your landlord to extend you more flexibility than when you are behind on rent. 

Avoid damaging the property

If property damage or disrepair is your reason for early termination, don’t cause further damage. It could remove your leverage with the landlord.

Follow the rules and guidelines

When you need to break your lease early, it’s important to avoid any violations for the remainder of your rental agreement. No one wants to resort to eviction, fines, and fees, a negative credit report, or a legal battle. Be sure to review your lease terms, including these, that you should be familiar with. It’s your best bet for an amicable lease separation.

amicably terminating your apartment home lease agreement

All in all, breaking your lease doesn’t have to be a negative experience.

In fact, property management companies and landlords want their residents to enjoy their experience with a long-term stay at their home or neighborhood. 

Even if change comes your way, taking advantage of annual or bi-annual lease agreement promotional offers can deliver the best cost and benefit options. 

As an example at Redwood apartment rental home neighborhoods, long-term lease and renewing residents may be offered a home upgrade or rental discount. 

lease agreement information for redwood apartment rental homes

So if you’re currently looking for your next perfect place to call home, no matter how long you choose to stay, learn more about Redwood neighborhood amenities, leasing options, and locations here.