It is a huge accomplishment to own your own rental property. However, this feat can sometimes come with a burden.

If you do not use a service to help you with your investment, you will need to know about the stipulations on breaking a lease.

What can and can’t a tenant do? What are your options if a tenant requests to break their lease? Read further as our experts at S&D go over the answers to these questions.

Reasons why a lease may need to be broken

Although the situation is never ideal, here are some reasons why you can expect a tenant to need to break their lease:

  • A family member is sick, and they need to move away to take care of them
  • They got a job offer and need to relocate
  • The tenant has decided to move in with a significant other
  • There have been issues in the neighborhood the tenant would like to move away from

There are plenty more where these came from, but these are some common explanations you may expect to hear from your renter.

Breaking the lease

This situation can play out in many different ways. It is all dependent upon the type of rental agreement you had the tenant sign when they moved in.

Every lease should include a termination clause – so read it carefully.

The most common is an “opt-out” clause. This agreement states that should the renter break the lease, they will pay a set fee plus a month’s rent. This fee is pre-determined by the landlord and considers any charges that the landlord will face having to place a new tenant.

However, it is also not uncommon to see that some landlords will require the tenant to be responsible for the rent due from anywhere between three months’ rent to the remainder of the lease.

This type of agreement will have to be taken into consideration when you draft up your leasing agreement.

Struggling on how to put everything into words? Leasing agreements and tenant placement are one of our Property Management Division’s specialties.


Just because a clause was written in the contract does not mean it can’t be broken. Of course, this decision is entirely up to you as the landlord.

A landlord can negotiate that the tenant pays their “opt-out” fee but forfeits their security deposit. Depending on the situation, this option can be a win-win for both parties involved.

Additionally, the landlord and renter can negotiate that fees will not be owed if the renter can find a sub-leaser in a timely manner. This is a quality tenant that will take over the remainder of the leasing agreement.

Your worst-case scenario is that the tenant will walk out without paying any dues. In this case, you can seek legal ramifications. This can be a headache, especially if you are already taking the time to tend to other investment properties.

The good news is that there are services out there that can help you with this. A good Property Management company can advise you on your legal rights in this situation. However, they will screen your tenants so thoroughly that this type of situation should not arise in the first place. Read more about the pros of hiring a Property Management company.