Breaking a Lease in California
When renting a space, a tenant signs a contract with a landlord and one of the most important aspects of this contract is the lease agreement. A lease, typically lasting for one year, sets out the time for the rental of the unit and the cost of rent. Taking into consideration exceptions and any agreed upon provisions otherwise, a tenant and landlord are obligated to carry out the lease. But what happens if the tenant needs to leave the unit and stop making payments? That is called breaking a lease and this article will provide some of the basics. If you are looking to break your lease and have any questions about your rights as a tenant, reach out to us at Law Advocate Group for more help.
Breaking a Lease – Do You have a Legal Right?
According to California law, tenants can only break their lease if they meet certain criteria, which are as follows: the landlord harassed the tenant, the unit violated health and safety requirements, the tenant was a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking, and/or the tenant had to begin active military duty. Other than these situations, a tenant does not have the legal right to break their lease.
If a tenant has to break their lease for any other reason, even personal emergencies, they can break their lease, but they can face costly fines from the landlord. If the tenant’s rental agreement does not allow for the breaking of a lease outside of legal justifications, the landlord can choose to make the tenant pay the remaining amount of rent on the lease. However, landlords are legally required to rent their unit as soon as possible. If a unit gets rented again, the landlord may not want any additional payments or may only require the previous tenant to pay for the time the unit was vacant.
Ask the Landlord and a Lawyer
In some cases, a tenant can present a solid and justified (although not legally) case for needing to break the lease and the landlord may agree. Make sure to speak with the landlord prior to breaking the agreement and find out if they are willing to help. If you do want to break your lease and are not sure of how to go about the process, contact us for experienced legal counsel.