Reasons to Break a Lease: Emotional Trauma

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Reasons to Break a Lease: Emotional Trauma

Staff Writer · Dec 17, 2010

It’s difficult for you as a tenant to break a lease, because it’s a legally binding document. One way to do it without legal consequences is when your landlord breaches a provision of the lease and doesn’t do anything to fix it within the time period specified in the lease. There are other reasons to break a lease that’s allowed by real estate law, but emotional trauma is not one of them.

Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse is traumatic, and you may need to leave your apartment in order to cope with the loss. Daily reminders about the time you shared with your spouse in your apartment can be too much to take. Many statues allow you to break a lease if you spouse dies, but not due to emotional trauma. It’s because courts deem the death of a spouse the end of a joint tenancy or cotenant relationship. Your landlord cannot sue you if you leave the apartment. Most laws do require you to give the landlord notice about your spouse’s death and your intent to vacate the apartment. You could be liable for damages that result from you not sending adequate notice, or if you don’t notify the landlord in a timely manner.

Breaking up with a Loved One

You cannot break a lease because you’re traumatized by a breakup. If you were living with someone who was a cotenant and that person leaves, then you’ll be responsible for paying all of the rent and meeting all of the obligations under the lease. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get much sympathy from your landlord about the breakup or a willingness of his part to release you from the lease. At the same time, it’s worth trying to negotiate a release with your landlord instead of abandoning the lease.

Emotional Trauma from Bad Memories

Living in an apartment can be miserable if it’s filled with bad memories. The emotional trauma can impact many areas of your life, including your job performance, ability to concentrate at school or raise a family. While the negative effects are real and even unbearable, it does not give you license to break a lease. The way to resolve the issue is to talk to your landlord to see whether you can get a release from the lease agreement. You should offer to find other tenants, pay for newspaper classified ads if necessary, post free ads on websites like Craigslist, and be flexible about letting prospective tenants view the apartment. These concessions may not persuade your landlord to release you from the lease and end your rental obligations, but it’s worth trying. Some landlords would prefer to have a tenant who wants to live there and they want to avoid a potential legal proceeding to collect rent down the road.

Don’t make the emotional trauma that you’re experiencing worse by inviting a legal battle with your landlord. Before you break your lease, speak with your attorney before you speak with your landlord.

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