If you want to terminate your lease you need to (typically) send a letter to your landlord (or to your tenant if you’re a landlord). We have free downloadable lease termination letters and will go over some of the important things you need to mention. The sample letters are all in Microsoft Word.
How can I terminate my lease?
If you are a tenant, then the way you can end your lease is dependent on the contract terms of your rental agreement. In most cases a simple letter will suffice, but you need to take care of a few things:
- Timely delivery of the termination letter: it doesn’t matter when you SEND the letter, but it does matter when the letter to the landlord is DELIVERED. If you need to end the lease 1 month before the new month, then the letter should not arrive 4 weeks before then new month as the landlord can hold you to another month of rent!
This is why you’ll typically use a registered letter or you’ll hand-deliver the notice (with a witness present).
- Using the proper clauses: if you need to terminate your rent due to special circumstances, then you need to make that absolutely clear in the termination notice. Especially if the circumstances are the landlord’s fault (for example: bad maintenance, harassment etc) then you’ll typically find yourself in a battle and you need to create the proper chain of evidence and write everything down properly. If you don’t terminate due to these “breaches of contract” on paper, then you’ll be held to the regular termination clauses.
- Proper delivery of the property: you should make sure that you’re able to deliver the property back to the landlord in the agreed condition in a timely manner. If you painted it while you were living there, then it could be that you need to paint it back in the original color. Check your contract details for condition requirements and inspection date details!
If you don’t deliver it in the right state then you may lose your deposit!
What do I do when I get a lease termination letter?
In a lot of case you’ll know upfront that your rent will be terminated. After all, most people will have a decent relationship with their landlord and he/she will have indicated this before already.
If the termination notice comes as a total surprise to you AND you don’t want to move out (or didn’t plan to). Then of course you need to make a plan. Step 1 of that plan is would be to CALL your landlord and find out more about the reasons and whether she/he is open to let you stay longer. Talking is always the first (and best) course of action. It’s also the fastest approach. You don’t want to waste precious time sending letters back and forth or create confusion by sending emails or text messages.
If you can’t agree with your landlord on the termination (or the termination date) then the next step is to go back to the contract and figure out what your rights are. This may be the time to lawyer up or at least check some websites on your rights as a tenant (in the USA hud.gov is a good place to start).
This may also be a good time to make a contingency plan. Can you get another place easily? Or can you decide to stay anyways and fight an eviction? What kind of terms are you willing to agree with your landlord if push comes to shove?
Early termination of rent
If your landlord terminates your rent early, then she/he will do this due to breach of contract or to a “force majeur”-clause. Examples of reasons are:
- You’re late on rent: the number 1 reason why landlords terminate lease agreeements
- You’re being a bad tenant: you behaved poorly in ways such as:
- you took a roommate
- you took a pet
- you subletted the place
- you’ve caused disturbances (usually noise)
- you’ve taken poor care of the property
- The landlord is selling the property: in a booming real estate market your landlord may want to cash out
- The property is damaged due to an external event: if the building got hit by a flood or a hurricane and the landlord can’t/won’t be able to restore it
The above are all (more or less) valid reasons for a landlord to terminate your rent early. That doesn’t mean you should agree with them though! And it also doesn’t mean that you should just go along and accept them.
First of all: even if the given reasons are true, the landlord typically needs to prove that they’re true. That’s quite easy if you’re late on rent, but a lot more difficult if you’ve got a pet for example. It may be that you were just taking care of a friends pet for a week or so. A judge would find it unreasonable in most cases that you’re kicked out of your apartment for that (especially if you’re otherwise a good tenant).
Second: some of the reasons may not be valid at all! The fact that your landlord wants to sell the property doesn’t mean that he can! In lots of places the tenant’s rights supercede the right of a landlord to sell the property!
So again – in these kind of situations it’s important to stay calm, talk to your landlord, read the contract and start doing your due diligence before moving out.
Rent Termination Letter Samples
Landlord terminating lease during Covid
As we speak (2021), COVID is still ravaging the planet. Unfortunately it doesn’t only hit people, but only businesses / jobs – in short: the economy.
Many people are out of a job and not being able to pay rent. And landlords are feeling this in their wallets too of course. This is resulting in many landlords seeking to terminate leases of tenants that aren’t able (or willing) to pay.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out of this. In many countries and jurisdictions, governments have put a temporary stop to evictions, but this can not last forever. The reality of the matter is that landlords ALSO need to eat. We often think of them as wealthy capitalists that are driving around in Lambos and eating steak. But that’s certainly not the case. And even for those landlords who have it good – why should they now be forced to bleed dry?
This is an ethical dilemma for which the answer is not easy. We can only advise tenants to open the discussion with their landlords as soon as they can. Avoid getting your rent terminated and then being to late to do something about it! Try to see if you can find common ground and a long-term solution that works for both of you.
Lease Termination Agreement Templates
What is a notice to vacate?
A notice to vacate is any notice (letter, whatsapp, email, text message or even a conversation) by your landlord – or their lawyer – that tells you must vacate the property by a certain date.
This usually follows AFTER a termination notice, but in some cases it is basically the same document. A notice to vacate usually screams a more formal and forcing tone than a rent termination letter. Therefore you’ll see this wording reserved for situations where there’s a bad situation between landlord and tenant.