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How to Break a Lease without Penalty

It’s not uncommon for there to be disagreements between tenants and landlords, but often times it is not enough reason for the tenant to move out of their property before their lease is over.  Often times, when you break a lease, you face a penalty, but there are ways to avoid having to pay a fine.  If your landlord is not respecting the lease, or you’re experiencing any of the situations below, you may be able to break your lease without penalty.  (Related topics: tenant buyout attorney, real estate lawyer NYC, landlord-tenant law NYC)

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Landlord Violates Rules of Entry

Usually, a landlord has to give a 24 hours’ notice to the tenant before entering their property.  Reasons for them entering include inspection, making repairs, or to show the unit to prospective tenants.  If a landlord enters the property without notice or valid reason, it could be enough reason for the tenant to break the lease without penalty.



Harassment against a tenant includes physical and verbal threats, changing locks without notice, removing possessions from unit, or filing false charges against the tenant.  If this is occurring, the tenant should keep as much proof as they can, so that it can assist them in legally breaking their lease.


Safety Violation

If a landlord fails to make repairs that was agreed upon in the lease, especially when there are health or safety violations, the tenant may be allowed to break the lease.  This can also include the infestation of vermin or other harmful pests.


Military Relocation

Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), if a service member is ordered for active duty or a permanent change of station, they are allowed to break their lease without penalty.


Domestic Violence

If there has been a recent case of domestic violence in a home, that tenant has a valid reason to break the lease.

If you are having problems with your landlord that you can’t seem to civilly resolve, it may be in your best interest to hire a tenant lawyer to help dispute the issue.  With probable cause, your lawyer can help you break your lease without penalty.