Is there a way to get out of a lease early without having to pay for the whole year?

I was wondering if you could help me with a lease contract problem. We have signed a years lease and do not want to stay here the full year. The landlord wouldn’t accept a month-to-month lease or even 6 month lease. Is there a way to negotiate a deal where we will not be penalized for a full years rental payment if we leave early?

Asked on October 25, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You don't indicate why you want to leave. Since you didn't mention any issues with habitablity of the premises, a job transfer, etc. I'll assume that you want to move for other reasons. Accordingly, first of all have you read your lease? Possibly there is language relating to how to legally vacate early. If not, the law is that a tenant is still liable for the remaining rent until the end of the lease term. That having been said, a landlord is under a duty to "mitigate damages" once a tenant moves out. This means that they must use reasonable efforts to find a new tenant. If and when this happens, the tenant who moved out is relieved of any further rental obligation. 

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