How to termante a lease without penalty?

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How to termante a lease without penalty?

I am in 1 year lease of a house and I am 3 months into the lease and have to terminate my lease due to a death in the family. I must move back to California. In my lease it states that I am required to pay the remaining months of the lease if I terminate. I gave 45 days notice in writing to my termination and was also asked to terminate my lease a week before I did because my boyfriend came over a lot and the neighbor didn’t like him and complained to the owner. The property management company called and told me there was an issue with the neighbor and they recommend I move out. I left the house clean and completely in tact with no problems. I also spent my last month there advertising the house for rent and did 20 showings throughout the month. The reality company said they would do whatever they could to re-lease out the property for me. They did absolutely nothing, no advertising and did not schedule one showing. I asked for the leaky shower faucet to be fixed and it never happened as well. I am now in California and do not want to pay for a house I am not living in. What can I do, is there a way out or a loop hole.

Asked on June 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A death in the family does NOT provide grounds to terminate a lease, so the landlord does not need to let you out of the lease for this reason. Generally, you can only terminate a lease if 1) the landlord breaches its terms in some material, or significant way (such as by not providing possession of the full premises you were renting; or not providing habitable premises), or 2) the lease itself provides some mechanism for early termination, such as a clause stating that you could terminate on proper notice. From what you right, however, there was no such term in the lease and the landlord did not materially violate its obligations, so on the face of it, you would appear to be obligated for the full length of the lease.

IF there was an agreement between you and the landlord or its agent (the property manager) that you would be allowed to terminate the lease early, you MAY be able to enforce that agreement. However, if the lease itself states that any modifications to it must be in writing (which is common), then an oral agreement would be ineffective. Even if the lease allows oral modification, or you had a written agreement with the property manager to move out earlier, you'll still need to prove the existence and terms of the agreement (which is obviously much easier with a written agreement).

If there was no actual agreement to let you move out early, and/or you cannot prove the existence of such an agreement, then it would appear you are obligated for the full length of the lease.


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