A Clear Guide on Lease Termination Letters

tenant lease termination letter is a document to formally notify your landlord that you are terminating the current agreement. This letter should be written for purposes such as a job change, medical emergency, or dissolution of a legally-recognized partnership.

The main purpose of a rental lease termination notice is to inform your landlord of three things:

  • Your intention to vacate the property.
  • The reason behind your decision to vacate the property.
  • The date of when you plan to vacate the property.

A lease termination letter is different from an eviction notice in that the former is a document written by a tenant. The latter is a document written by the landlord or court ordering the tenant to vacate the property. Moreover, a tenant lease termination is a voluntary action whereby the tenant elects to vacate the property. An eviction notice is a mandatory order that commands a tenant to leave the property.

To fully understand the essence of a lease termination letter, you first need to understand the core principles of a rental lease agreement.

What is a Rental Lease Agreement?

A rental lease agreement represents an agreement between two parties over a particular property. A lessor (lender and property owner) leases out a property to a lessee (borrower or tenant). 

Leases differ from sales in terms of ownership. Normally, when you buy an item, you gain full ownership of it. This is not the case with a rental lease. While a lessee can exercise limited rights of ownership pertaining to the leased property, the law recognizes the lessor as the property’s true owner.

In essence, a lease agreement grants the lessee the right to use but not own a property for a set period.

Photo by Jose Alonso on Unsplash

The Importance of a Tenant Lease Termination Letter

Managing a property is a complex process that requires a good deal of organizational skills. Moreover, property rentals have a direct impact on a landlord’s revenue.

Finding new tenants takes time. Moreover, landlords may need time to prepare the property for new occupants. Due notice is important because it allows landlords to prepare for this change.

A lease contract is one of many sources of obligation. Leases have a set period of validity. A tenant agrees to use the property throughout this set period. Landlords plan based on the contract’s terms.

By terminating a lease early, a tenant essentially breaches the lease contract. However, it should be known that contracts are not indelible bindings. The law provides for leniency, taking into account conditions that may hinder a lessee from fulfilling the contract.

(Conditions such as loss of income, medical conditions, job change, or divorce/annulment)

An early notice allows landlords to make the necessary adjustments and negotiate with a tenant. More importantly, for tenants, a tenant lease termination letter provides them protection from legal action from landlords. (This applies only to tenants who have a legally-protected reason for leaving.)

Lease Termination Notice for Landlords

Lease termination letters aren’t just for tenants. Landlords may also write them. Again, this is also considered a breach of contract because it essentially uproots a tenant from a place of comfort. However, the law provides some reasons that make it legal for landlords to have tenants vacate the property. Some of these reasons are:

  • The tenant’s violation of the lease agreement’s terms and conditions.
  • The landlord plans to sell the property.
  • A failure to pay rent.
  • New zoning codes and ordinances
  • Property damage that deems the residence unfit for occupancy.

A landlord is also obliged to return the tenant’s security deposit. A landlord may keep the security deposit as long as the tenant gives a written statement allowing the landlord to do so.

In Summary

A tenant lease termination letter is a document expressing a tenant’s intention to vacate the property. While this is technically a breach of contract, there are legally-protected reasons that allow for such a change. That is, as long as the landlord is duly notified.

A tenant lease termination notice is more than just a courtesy. It is a measure that protects you from legal action. It’s important to note that each state has its own set of rules. Remember to take the time to look them up so as to avoid any missteps in the process. While there’s nothing wrong in writing the letter yourself, it’s best to have a lawyer review your terms and write the letter for you.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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