Ending a Lease or Rental Agreement FAQs

Ending a lease or rental agreement is a process that is usually accompanied by a great deal of ill feeling between you and your landlord. If the landlord has filed a notice of eviction of against you, it may be worth your time to fight it. At the very least, you deserve to know how to defend yourself against the claims of your landlord so that your credit and tenant histories are not damaged. Here is a list of ending a lease or rental agreement FAQs that may prove useful to you in your hour of need.

Is It Legal to End a Lease Before It Expires?

It is normally not legal for you to end your lease before it expires unless you have reasons for doing so that are protected by state or Federal law. You may legally do so if you plan on moving to a nursing home or will be in a hospital for an extended period of time. You may also end a lease early if you are required to do so by the terms of your service in the military.

If you leave under any other type of circumstance that is not authorized by law, you may find yourself being sued by your landlord to collect damages that they incurred after you left. This may include income lost from the apartment sitting vacant, the difference in rent between what you paid and the new tenant pays, and the amount that it cost for the landlord to find a new tenant.

Can a Landlord Ask You to Move Out When Your Lease Expires?

A landlord may have any number of reasons for requesting that a tenant to vacate the premises after the expiration of the lease. They are legally well within their rights for doing so. Although a lease will usually specify a certain amount of time to be given to a tenant to find a new residence, most states will mandate that the time be officially set at 60 days.

Can You Continue to Pay Rent after Your Lease Has Expired?

In some states, if you choose to continue paying rent even after your lease has expired, this may indicate that you and your landlord have agreed to move to a new monthly basis. If this is the case, the landlord basically has to honor the terms of the original lease and can only make changes to the arrangement after giving you 30 days’ prior notice.

Continuing to pay your rent past the end of the original lease may also result in you and your landlord coming to a new lease agreement. At this point, the landlord is entitled to change the terms of the lease, for example by raising the rent. If you agree to these terms, this will become the new agreement between you.

How Can You Legally End a Monthly Rental Agreement?

Most states will require the tenant to give their landlord a written notice of their intention to vacate the premises 30 days before doing so. You can usually do so at any time of the month. However, if the terms of your rental agreement state that you can only give notice on a certain day of the month, you will have to wait until then to do so.

Is Your Landlord Required to Give Back Your Security Deposit?

In most cases, a landlord is legally required to return your security deposit when you vacate the premises. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The owner of the property may legally deduct the amount of any unpaid rent from the deposit. They may also use all or part of your deposit to fix any damage you may have done to the area that is noticeably in excess of acceptable wear and tear.

If this is the case, the landlord will normally be required to send you an itemized list of these deductions along with the balance of your rent within 14 to 60 days after you leave the property.