Do I have legal options to break a lease?

I signed a lease for an apartment but I have since decided I want to live
elsewhere. The lessor refuses to break my lease unless I personally find
someone to take my place. Do I have any legal options in this case? I’d like to
break the lease.

Asked on June 2, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You cannot legally break or terminate a lease unless:
1) The lease itself contains some term or provision allowing you to terminate it, and you comply with all its requirements or conditions.
or
2) The landlord him/herself violates his/her obligations in a material, or important way, such as by--
a) Not leasing you the space you rented (e.g. "bait and switch" on the unit; or the unit does not meet the description of the unit you agreed to rent in some significant way);
b) The space is not safely inhabitable (e.g. no heat; mold; outside door to the uniits doesn't lock and so is not secure; no hot water; large holes in windows or leaks; etc.) and does fix the problems within a reasonable time after you provide written notice;
c) The landlord does not allow you the "quiet enjoyment" of your space--such as by entering repeatedly without permission or for a property reason, on notice.
Othewise, if there is no early termination clause in the lease and the landlord honors all his/her obligations, you are lockd into the lease, and if you break it early, the landlord can sue you for the rent you'd owe under it.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.