Is there a way to break my lease due to medical condition?

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Is there a way to break my lease due to medical condition?

I have a medical condition that has gotten worse. I got fired from my job due to the condition and being unable to work. I can no longer live alone. Is there anyway to get out of my lease without having to pay the penalty price?

Asked on June 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First of all, have you checked the terms of your lease to see if this situation is covered in it? Typically it won't be won't be, however there may be a general provision for ending a lease early with a stated period of notice to the landlord (i.e. 60 days). If not, then you will then need to check the laws of your state and/or your specific city. The statutes differ everywhere (though generally speaking is not legal to break a lease for medical reasons). Next, you can contact a tenant's rights organization or consult with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant cases. Finally, you can explain the situation to your landlord and see what, if any, arrangements regarding your termination they are willing to make.

 

Otherwise and unfortunately, a lease is a contract and if you break it you are liable for the remaining rent until the expiration of the lease (plus any applicable fees/penalties). That having been said, landlords have a duty to "mitigate" damages". This means that they are legally required to try and minimize damages by re-letting the premises as soon as possible. Therefore, if you break the lease your landlord has to advertise the unit and try to find a new tenant. If they do, they have to let you out of the remainder of the term. However, that will still almost certainly result in your paying at least a month or two (or more). Still, some financial relief is better than none. 

 

What you can do is to assist your landlord in finding a new tenant; maybe a friend or someone from work? Also, if your lease allows or the landlord will permit, you can try to sublet your unit. Then, even as you are paying the landlord rent, someone else is paying you.  You can more easily accomplish this by subletting to your subtenant for less than what you pay in rent yourself; you then make up the difference. While it's not the perfect solution, getting something is better than getting nothing at all.

 


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