Can a Landlord Break a Lease?| Lease Agreements

Can a Landlord Break a Lease
Can a Landlord Break a Lease

In Florida, the question of whether a landlord can break a lease for any reason after signing an agreement can be difficult to answer. A rental agreement is a legally binding document that both the landlord and the tenant must follow. A lease cannot be terminated early unless there is a serious lease violation. However, certain circumstances allow a landlord to break a lease for any reason after signing an agreement to evict a tenant.

Every landlord’s goal is to find a great tenant who pays their rent on time. You conduct thorough screening during the rental application process to ensure the tenant is a good fit. Despite your best efforts, you may have to deal with a lease violation and consider terminating the agreement early.

Before terminating a rental agreement early, make sure you have a solid legal foundation. The last thing you want is for a disgruntled tenant to sue you for a rental lease violation. This article examines the various legal reasons for a landlord to break a lease for any reason after signing it in Florida.

Can a Landlord Break a Lease?

In Florida, a landlord can break a lease for any reason after signing it for one of two reasons: a tenant’s lease violation or an early termination clause in the agreement. For example, if a tenant fails to break rent or violates another rental lease clause, the landlord may evict them. A landlord may also terminate the lease in order to sell, renovate, or move into the rental property.

Violation of Lease Agreement

A violation of the lease conditions is a common reason for breaking the lease. Unpaid rent, having an unapproved pet, breaking occupancy rules, or causing severe property damage are all common lease violations. In some cases, engaging in illegal activity may be grounds for issuing an unconditional quit notice.

If the tenant has violated a contract provision, the first step is to serve a lease violation notice. A “pay rent or quit” or “cure or quit” notice gives the tenant a set number of days to resolve the problem. For example, if rent is not paid on time, the tenant may be required to pay the arrears.

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State laws on initiating an eviction process differ. As a result, before serving a termination notice, it’s critical to check with local laws and initiate eviction proceedings. You can avoid making a costly eviction mistake if you give your delinquent tenant reasonable notice. According to Colorado lease termination laws, a tenant must pay rent within three days of receiving notice. Many states have landlord-tenant laws that are similar.

Here is a list of common lease violations that can break to a lease termination:

  • Late payments.
  • Pets in an apartment with a no-pet policy.
  • Long-term visitors who become occupants.
  • The property has suffered significant damage.
  • Engaging in illegal activity
  • The tenant converts the rental unit into a commercial space. This does not, however, include working from home.

Lease Termination with Cause

You may need to break a lease without cause in some cases. This means you want the tenant to leave, but there is no violation of the lease. Selling the property, carrying out extensive renovations, or wanting to move into the property yourself are all reasons for terminating the lease before it expires.

Let’s take a look at three scenarios in which a landlord in Florida can break a lease for any reason after signing it.

Selling the property: 

You can require tenants to vacate the property before the lease expires if you decide to sell it. You can still ask tenants to leave if a new landlord buys the property. However, you can only break the lease and sell the rental unit if there is a clause in the rental agreement that allows you to do so. In general, tenants have the legal right to remain in a property after it has been sold.

Major renovations:

Assume you need to renovate the house. However, the extent of the repairs means that a tenant cannot live there safely. In that case, you have the option to terminate the agreement. However, this must be specified in the rental agreement. Furthermore, states with rent control laws may require you to provide proper notice to tenants. Alternatively, you may be required to renew the tenancy after the repairs are completed.

To relocate to the property:

An “owner move-in” eviction is legal in most states, as long as the landlord gives proper notice. To avoid legal complications, the landlord must live in the property as their primary residence. Failure to do so may give tenants grounds to sue for wrongful eviction.

What to Break a Lease Early? It Depends on the Clause in the Lease

In rental agreements, it is a good idea to include a clause about breaking a lease without cause. You could have an early termination clause for specific situations if your state laws allow it. In general, these are if you sell the property, make major renovations, or decide to live in it yourself.

Month-to-month rental agreements

A month-to-month lease is typically easy to terminate. Most states require you to give the tenant 30 days’ notice before they must vacate. You should, however, check the landlord-tenant laws in your area. In Colorado, for example, lease termination laws require only 21 days’ notice.

Some states prohibit breaking a month-to-month lease so quickly. Before breaking a month-to-month rental agreement, you may be required to give 60 or even 90 days’ notice.

Cash in exchange for keys

If it is impossible for a landlord to break a lease for any reason after signing early, a “cash for keys” arrangement may be the best option. If there is no termination clause in the lease, you can offer a tenant cash to move out. Additionally, offering cash in exchange for keys can help you avoid a costly and time-consuming eviction process.

Here are a few examples of how a “cash for keys” agreement could help you break a lease early.

Assume you have a tenant who causes noise disturbances and occasionally misses monthly rent payments. Despite the fact that you have the ability to serve a “cure or quit” notice, you realize that the eviction will take too long. Additionally, during the eviction process, the tenant may cease making rental payments entirely. You could therefore offer them one month’s rent plus a security deposit. You could, however, offer a different amount depending on the circumstances.

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Alternatively, you may wish to sell the rental unit as vacant, with no existing tenants. The rental agreement, however, contains no provision for termination without cause. In that case, you could make a “cash for keys” offer to the tenant.

When using a “cash for keys” arrangement to break a lease early, keep the following in mind:

  • Put it in writing: Have an attorney draft an agreement for you and the tenant to sign.
  • Don’t harass the tenant: Keep in mind that you are at the tenant’s mercy. They are not required to accept a “cash for keys” deal.
  • Maintain a record: Never pay the tenant in cash; instead, pay by check or bank transfer so that you have a record of the transaction.
  • Do not attempt a self-help eviction: Changing the locks, disconnecting utilities, or rendering the rental unit uninhabitable is illegal and a lease violation. If you try a self-help eviction, you may face an eviction lawsuit.

Can a Landlord Break a Lease For Any Reason

Generally, a landlord may break a lease without reason after signing it at the expiration of the lease term. That is, unless you are able to invoke an anti-retaliation law, your landlord is under no obligation to renew your lease or allow you to stay in the property for an extended period of time. Your landlord will usually give you 30 days’ notice if your lease will not be renewed, but tenants are generally responsible for making lease extension arrangements.

When Your Lease Expires

Because landlord-tenant laws are handled at the state and local levels, laws may differ from one state to the next. Regardless, it is always best to maintain open lines of communication with your landlord and to avoid waiting until the last minute to renew a lease. If a landlord does not wish to renew a lease, he or she must not accept rent or agree to new terms beyond the original lease term. A court may interpret this as a default extension of the lease, at least on a month-to-month basis.

Retaliation

It may be difficult to prove that a landlord acted in retaliation when he or she decided to break your lease without reason after signing because the actual reason is the end of the term. However, if you can demonstrate that the landlord agreed to a lease extension and then canceled it without notice, leaving you unprepared for an abrupt move, you may have a valid claim.

Conclusion

A breach of lease is typically the only reason for a landlord to break a lease for any reason after signing an agreement early in Florida. You can serve a notice to cure or quit if a tenant fails to pay rent, damages the property, or violates another provision of the rental agreement. Assume you have an early termination clause. If you decide to sell, renovate, or move into the property, you may be able to end the tenancy early.

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It is always best to consult with a lawyer before taking action to break a lease to ensure you get legal advice that is applicable to your state and situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a landlord break a lease act?

There are two ways to end a tenancy agreement if your landlord commits a serious breach. To begin, you can file an application with ACAT, detailing the serious breach by the landlord and requesting that ACAT terminate the tenancy agreement. ACAT may terminate the tenancy if the breach is severe enough.

Can a landlord terminate a lease early in Florida?

In Florida, a landlord can evict a tenant for a variety of reasons, including failure to pay rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing an illegal act. To end the tenancy, the landlord must first provide written notice to the tenant.

Can a landlord terminate a lease early in Georgia?

A landlord must have a cause, or a legal reason, to terminate a tenancy early. In Georgia, these legal reasons include failure to pay rent or breaching the terms of the lease or rental agreement.

Can a landlord break a lease in Ontario?

A landlord may terminate a tenancy only for the reasons specified in the Act. In most cases, the first step is for the landlord to give the tenant written notice that they wish for the tenant to vacate. The Board provides the proper forms that a landlord must use when giving the notice to end the tenancy.

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