How to Break a Lease Due to Domestic Violence

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If you have a fixed-term lease, you have to stay until the end of the lease term to avoid having to pay monetary compensation to your landlord. Depending on your state laws, you may be able to break your lease without consequences if you are a victim of domestic violence. However, you need to follow certain procedures to successfully break your lease. The details of the process may vary from state to state, so contact your local housing authority for advice before you start.

Call the police to report about the incident of domestic violence, and retain the police report. Seek medical help, if necessary, and keep the report as evidence. If you have to go to court as a result of the domestic violence, request a court report so you can give it to your landlord.

Contact a local victim services or rape crisis organization for help. Request a statement from an employee of the organization confirming the incident of domestic violence.

Write a letter to your landlord before you move out. In your letter, state that you have to break your lease because of domestic violence. Depending on your state laws, there may be a requirement that you send the notice at least a certain number of days before moving out. There may also be a requirement that the domestic violence incident occurred within a certain number of days prior to the date of this notice. Attach a copy of the medical, court or police report, a copy of a restraining order, or a copy of the statement from the victim services or rape crisis organization.

Continue paying rent. The length of time for which you have to pay rent depends on the minimum notice period according to your state laws. If your landlord re-rents the unit to a new tenant before the end of the minimum notice period, you only have to pay rent up to the time the new tenant moves in.

Tips & Warnings

  • After you move out, your landlord usually has to return your security deposit in the same way as if you had moved out after the end of the lease.

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