You’ve found your ideal home and you move in expecting to be settled for a while, at least for the length of your initial lease which is generally a year. Then something happens and your plans are thrown into disarray. Maybe you’ve been offered a better job in a new location, you’re getting divorced, the property has lots of flaws or your neighbours are a noisy nightmare. Many contracts have a clause about breaking leases early and this usually includes a penalty payment. One option you have then is to simply bite the bullet, pay up and move on.
How can I get out of my lease without paying this penalty?
Is your house or flat as initially described, is it even legally habitable? There are strict tenancy laws that lay down minimum requirements for safety, sanitation and living conditions for interiors and common areas. These include usable utilities, drinkable water, closed sewers, smoke detectors and no pest infestation. If you’ve identified a serious fault let your landlord know in written form accompanied by photographic evidence and keep a copy. Your landlord now has a reasonable time limit to solve any issues. If he doesn’t the law is on your side.
What other methods are there for breaking a lease early?
Firstly, see if you can work amicably with your landlord, maybe help him to find a new tenant. Do you know someone who’s looking for a new home? Your landlord has a legal obligation to relet, he can’t leave the building empty and still take your rent. Now pay close attention to your lease. Is it actually a set period lease, or a month by month rental agreement? Maybe it contains some legal loopholes that work in your favour. If it says, for example, that security deposits won’t be returned if you leave early, this isn’t allowed as deposits always have to be returned. Does your lease give you “quiet enjoyment” of the property and other tenants have noisy parties every weekend? Loopholes like these give you a penalty-free way to leave your lease early.